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What I can give up

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Navel gazing is a great thing to do if you’re one of the 50% of Kiwis who are struggling to make financial ends meet.

I like to challenge everything I spend. Is it a necessity? The answer is usually “no”, no matter how much I try to justify it. With a bit of flexibility of thought even the mortgage isn’t a necessity. I could live in a cheaper house or a cheaper suburb.

I’d love to be able to give up paying tax. On a more realistic note, here are six of my “to give up in an emergency” items:

1. Credit cards: If I couldn’t pay my credit cards off in full each month, I’d cut them up. If I look at what comes through on my credit card statement, it’s certainly not all essentials. My last monthly statement contained eight entries for cafés, restaurants and takeaway pizza.* I’d like to see readers get out their credit card statements and mark every entry as either essential or non-essential. I struggle to see why people think it’s radical not to have a credit card.

2. Wine: I’ve said it before. Booze makes you poor. Even very modest drinking adds up to a whole lot of money. Two $15 bottles of wine per week for a couple would cost $46,800 over a 30 year period. If that money was invested each week at 4%, it would add up to $90,226 over the same period – although that isn’t factoring in tax.

3. Meat: I have to admit that I’d give up meat long before I had to give up good coffee – at least for financial reasons. Meat is downright expensive. We have at least one meat-free meal a week such as black bean stew, and meat-free curries. It wouldn’t be hard to eat vegetarian virtually every day.

4. Packaged food: I’m amazed at some of the food items that come in packets these days. Case in point was the packet of Obento Pickled Ginger that I opened the day I wrote this blog. It’s just ginger, sugar, salt and vinegar, but priced as if it’s a delicacy. Another food item that pops to mind is tubes of ready chopped coriander and basil. These herbs are easy to grow in the summer and can be frozen in ice cube trays. All these packaged foods add up to a lot of unnecessary spending at the supermarket.

5. Laziness: Sometimes I buy things at the supermarket (and elsewhere) because I’m too lazy to shop around. Vegetables are way cheaper at the local market. One great example is Lebanese pita bread. It’s over $4 a packet at New World, but only $1.70 or thereabouts at Indian and middle-eastern shops. I should set up location-based reminders on my Android phone that tell me that I’m entering the zone of XYZ shop and to stock up on whatever it is that they have cheaper.

6. Expensive undies: I love beautiful underwear as much as the next woman. Yet I have picked up a number of Elle McPherson bras from the Bendon Outlet shop at $20 each. That’s saving of $70 a pop. How? I wait until they have a nothing more than $20 sale. Smith & Caughey and Kirkcaldie & Stains have amazing half-yearly sales where they have all sorts of designer labels at bargain basement prices.

Finally I nearly put charitable donations in this list as point 7. Yet when I do some soul searching I don’t think I could give up charitable donations. If you’re cash strapped, however, should you stop giving to charity? I’d love to hear readers’ opinions on this one.

*For a child’s birthday party, so not a regular habit.

Your say: what could you give up?

Quit booze

The anatomy of a debt-free person

Honey, I shrunk the grocery bill

Guerrilla price comparison

Recipe Collection/Vegetarian

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