How to Save Money Creatively

Friday, February 28, 2014

Use What You Have: Saving Money Creatively

Earlier this year, I endured a technological cataclysm. There was a three-month period where my phone, laptop, DVD player, headphones and speakers broke. Given that I barely had the money to fix any of it, it was incredibly depressing time. In addition to work as a writer, I do a lot of work as a musician and creative artist. I barely had a single tool left to allow me to do any of it. I had to save a lot of money to get them fixed.

However, when I eventually did (which took me six months), I had an interesting reaction. Rather than becoming depressed that I had spent hundreds of dollars to repair equipment I’d already paid for, I simply rejoiced at all the things I owned. All the things they could do. I actually appreciated them more.

When you’re making horrible music on a toy keyboard (that you can’t actually play - the song was a real winner, I can assure you), you develop a whole new appreciation for that laptop. I’d actually wanted to replace my speakers until one of them broke. Listening to tinny computer speakers for months made me simply love my monitors again.

It made me realise that, a lot of the time, ideas about saving money don’t have involve eventually spending money. Sometimes, that’s true, of course. However, a lot of the time, you only need to shift your perspective to save money.

For example, if you really want some new clothes, go through and really re-sort and clean your wardrobe. It’ll be hard work - but you’ll discover clothes and combinations you haven’t touched in years. If you feel like you need something new to listen to, try only loading three albums you really love on your iPod for a week. Try a different couple of albums later.

It sounds a bit silly. Almost like you have to punish yourself so you can enjoy things again. There’s more than one way to change your perspective, though. Just re-examine your relationship to things. You’ll be surprised at the money you’ll save. Even just accidentally.

If you want to travel, look at your home town or city. There are probably parks, communities, restaurants and venues you’d never imagine living around your corner. You’d be amazed (and probably a little embarrassed at what you could discover). When I first moved to Brisbane, I discovered there was a monthly warehouse concert party on just around the corner from my house. It’s where I met some of my closest friends.

Again, it can seem silly. Maybe even annoying. Like you’re playing make-believe that you don’t need money. However, if you can be happy without spending that money, you can put it aside until you find something you really, truly want. You can dream even bigger.

You may not be able to travel interstate next week, for example - but if you’re happy to explore your own hometown for a little bit longer, you might actually be able to travel to New York next year. And you’ll have had a great time with stuff you already had.