|Pete's Christmas gift currently graces our bathroom|
1. DIY. This is a "duh" suggestion that I never really took seriously until I started making my own bread (yum!) and realized how much dough we were saving (terrible pun intended). Now we're all about finding ways to add thoughtfulness and save pennies with DIY. We loved making homemade holiday cards out of scraps and our low-key Valentine's Day fit right in with this new philosophy.
2. Turn that thermostat down! Last winter, during the coldest week of the year, our heating broke down. We froze for seven days before it got fixed. After some bitter complaining and several evenings spent exclusively in bed (the only warmish place in the apartment) we actually kind of...got used to it. To our surprise, we just sort of shifted from breakfast in PJs to breakfast in an Anorak. The couple seconds after a shower were hellish, but beyond that, we learned that when one is ensconced in fleece, cold is actually okay. Although we certainly cranked the heating up when it was finally fixed, we tend to keep the apartment about seven degrees colder than before...and now we save several hundred Euro a year, without minding at all!
3.Stay in! At the Sophie/Pete/Karl/Zanna house, we LOVE games. We've found an evening of poker or a snuggly movie night on the sofa is just as awesome as a fancy dinner out--for a fraction of the price!
4. Meatless Mondays...and Tuesdays...and Wednesdays. My roommate Sophie is a vegetarian, and though the rest of us identify as carnivores, we only eat meat about once or twice a week. I tend to insist on organic, local, and free-range (for various ethical and health-related reasons) and that's about as expensive as it gets! So we have some morally righteous meat every now and then and enjoy eggs and other protein-laden, purse-friendly alternatives the rest of the week.
5. Car sharing. It took me a while to warm up to this one, but Karl insisted, and now we use it for every car trip and have never looked back. When we travel as a couple, there are two empty seats in the back and it can cover the entire cost of gas to rent those out! We use the two most popular sites here in Germany, Mitfahrgelegenheit and Bla Bla Car, but we learned during our time in France and Switzerland that there are equivalent sites for most European countries. We're heading down south for some skiing this weekend, and the rides we have lined up will reimburse the whole car trip!
In addition to these tips, we also have a couple general rules, such as: no credit card debt, no bottled water, no magazine subscriptions, no take-out, no ATM-stops at non-affiliated banks, no brand-name products, ect.
One thing we NEVER agree on is handymen. Karl always thinks he can fix it, whatever "it" is, and I would rather just call an expert and not make it worse. We're still hashing that one out!
What about you? What are you favorite ways to save pennies and what's worth a splurge?
Look up at the Sky!
PS. Very first "Five Favorites" here!