My brother, in his infinite genius, recently quit his job. Now I can’t really blame him because his boss was to put it in the most polite way possible – an ass. I could list the myriad ways he was an ass, but suffice it to say, it was hell and I probably would have quit years before he did. In any case, he has taken a serious pay cut (think less than half of what he was earning before) and things are not going well for him right now.
The whole family is clubbing in to try to help him keep his head above water, and the task of teaching him how to make his money go much further has fallen to me. So I explained how I keep my costs down every month and told him to go check out some frugal living tips. When I asked him what he thought, his reply was that the advice is okay but that it’s ‘more for chicks than guys’.
And I realized that he was mostly right. While a lot of the advice was unisex, most of the articles were aimed at women. And because men think differently about their money, they might not think the advice they find on these blogs could be applied to them. So I met up with a couple of single men I know and asked them how they keep their costs down every month.
Now I’m sharing the easiest tips with you because the advice is really good! And the more money you save on unnecessary expenses, the more you will have left to spend on experiences!
1. Guys can use coupons too
Now I know that a lot of couponing sites are more aimed at women than men, but I checked all my favorite ones (Discountrue.com, RetailMeNot.com, Coupons.com) and they do have coupons for “men’s stores” like hardware stores, men’s clothing, auto parts stores and electronics stores as well as the most important ones – grocery stores.
So, no matter if it’s Nordstrom or Banggood that you need, there is no reason why men can’t shop with coupons too! It might take a while to figure out how they work, but you would be surprised at just how much you can save on costs – especially if you are a portable black hole like my brother and eat more than should be humanly possible!
2. Be realistic about your wheels
I know how much guys love the newest go-fast cars, and how many of them often buy a car they can’t actually afford because of how much horsepower, torque or chrome (or some other insane reason) it has. At the end of the day, your car needs to get you, and possibly your family, from A to B, so as nice as that other stuff is – it’s not really necessary.
Your car payments should never be more than 15% of your TAKE HOME salary so keep that in mind when you’re shopping for one – or save for a year and put down a hefty deposit to get the payments on the car of your dreams to that level!
3. Service your own vehicles
I believe in buying a car with a maintenance plan because while it is still under warranty, services can cost a packet. But once the warranty has run out, or if you’ve bought a second-hand car, then service your car yourself. The owner’s manual will tell you how often your car needs to be serviced, and often what needs to be done or replaced for each.
Don’t wait until your service is due to shopping for the parts and supplies you need, keep an eye on discounts and promotions and buy when the price is right! Oil and fuel filters don’t really do well with just being cleaned, but you can extend your service intervals by ‘rinsing’ them and your air or cabin filters every month or so. Rotate your tires regularly and keep them pumped to the right pressure to make them last longer. Check YouTube for ‘how to’ videos and other internet resources if you’ve never done something before.
4. Cut down on your gas use
Keeping your air filter clean can help with your gas costs, and it is generally a pretty easy thing you can do on your own. You can also carpool if someone you work with stays nearby, or check out ride share sites to find people headed in the same direction. If possible, try to cut your commute by staying near to work (you’ll need to compromise on this if you’re living with someone) and take advantage of public transport.
My brother sold his expensive car and bought a cheap used car plus a 250cc motorbike which is his main transport. Not only does he have less traffic problems, his fuel costs are a fraction of what they were. He only uses the car when he has to; while grocery shopping, if it’s raining and if he knows there are meetings to go to.
Riding a motorcycle is a lot riskier than a car, but if you have a lot of experience, don’t ride like a maniac and you’re not riding too far every day it is definitely worthwhile. Do not speed too often, because the faster you go, the more fuel you use and you risk expensive fines – no matter what vehicle you use.
5. Rethink fixed monthly expenses
When your budget is tight, one of the first things to go is often your insurance. But that can be a very bad idea and something you’ll regret on the day you need it, whether it is health, car or home insurance! Your car insurance doesn’t have to be fully comprehensive, and there is probably quite a bit to be saved on your household insurance too.
Speak to some brokers, tell them what your budget is, what absolutely has to be covered, and that you want as much coverage as possible. Then let them advise you on the best plans to suit you. With your health insurance, you can get one that has high deductibles and open a health savings account which will earn a few tax benefits too! You can also try to pay some monthly expenses (such as auto insurance, cellular contracts, and cable) annually, this would get you a discount.
6. Learn to make your own meals
When we were going over my brothers budget, his biggest expense every month was by far his takeout bill. Whether breakfast, lunch or supper he would ALWAYS buy something rather than try to make it. And in the quantities that he eats, that makes for some pretty hefty bills!
So one of the first things I did was teaching him to make some basic beginner meals that were leftover friendly. In other words, things that only involved a few steps were difficult to mess up and that he didn’t have to keep too close an eye on, such as casseroles, crockpots, slow cooker meals, pasta, and curries.
I also taught him to make burgers, quick and easy French fries (basically homemade oven fries), pizzas, and other ‘fast food’ that he likes. He’s gotten pretty good at using leftovers for packed lunches, and what to shop for, so that he can still pack lunch on the days there are no leftovers to use. We also created a small grocery club where we buy certain things in bulk then split it between us to cut down on both our costs.
There are tons of other money saving tips that guys would feel comfortable with, and in this case your favorite search engine is your best friend. Just look for ‘money savings tips for guys’ and you’ll find more than a few articles about how men can save money. And who knows, you might just find some couponing or frugal living blogs written by men where you can get even more ‘guy themed’ saving money advice!