It seems a bit ironic to be recommending products to buy (some of which are expensive) to visitors who are looking to increase their savings rate month on month, given that some of the products below are a significant amount of money. But there is method behind the madness so please do keep on reading;
If you’re only just getting involved in the FIRE community, first of all congratulations! You’ve already made an excellent decision in helping to secure a better future for you, your family and loved ones. Your health is also going to thank you, given that today’s work environment (rat race) is stressful at the best of times. In today’s culture which focuses on spending, accumulating debt, keeping up with the Jones’s and believing that you have to work until the ripe old age of 68, you are now going against the norm and making a decision that will work towards changing your life for the better.
Here are a few recommended products and their associated savings that I have bought in my Financial Independence journey which has significantly helped me along the way to cut back on those annoying monthly expenses. Of course, please take this as being my own recommendations – my lifestyle may be totally different to yours! These products will only help if you;
- Buy lunch everyday (when at work)
- Drink at-least 2 cups of coffee everyday (when a work)
Of course, this isn’t an exact science because if you start to slow cook wagyu beef everyday at the cost of around ?69.99 per kg, then you will be spending more than compared to buying lunches out! But on-average, I have saved ?250.00p/m through the purchase and use of the products listed below.
Here’s was just some of my expenses every single month (pre-fire journey):
My Typical Monthly Expenses (Pre-Fire Journey)
|MONTHLY EXPENSES||COST (?) PER MONTH? ? ? ?|
|Coffee (x 2 / 3 per day)||?120.00 p/m|
|Lunch (At work / bought each day)||?130.00 p/m|
|Diesel (Travel 30 Mile Round Trip)||?150.00 p/m|
|Dog Food (Kibble / Pedigree)||?80.00 p/m|
|Fast Food / Dinners Out||?100.00 p/m|
This was my actual, real life expenses each and every month. Some of which of course are situational (I have 3 dogs so the dog food side of things won’t apply to all of course) but in general, there’s a lot which applies to many people’s day to day routines.
Particularly coffee / buying lunches out – two clear easy winners to cut down your monthly expenses and utilise these savings to put into an investment product.
1# Book (To Provide an Insight into Investment)
Smarter Investing 3rd edn: Simpler Decisions for Better Results (Financial Times Series)
Savings / Return: PRICELESS
From my experience so far, Financial Independence requires a can do attitude that requires repeated savings, month on month. It’s all well and good putting your money into a savings account and hoping for the best, but with UK rates (at best March 2019) at around 2% pa (capped) you may be best looking at your original thoughts. You may have read about the beauty of ‘compound interest’ – the interest that your investment makes which creates even more interest on your original interest. In-fact, go have a play around with my favourite compound interest calculator!
If you are someone like me, who walked into the FIRE community from a related blog, lifestyle choice or fed up of the rat race and found everything very over-whelming when it came to deciding ‘Ok I’m saving ?XXX per month, but now what?’ then sit down, put the kettle on and read the book.
Tim Hale has a great way of breaking down in beginner terminology the various acronyms that various financial products use which can cause confusion. The book starts off with the very basis, taking a step by step approach to understanding the difference between active and passive investments, risk tolerance and ending with examples of a balanced portfolio invested in a whole plethora of various financial industries, countries and asset types.
2# Slow Cooker (Easy, ‘shove it in the pot’ cooking)
Savings / Return (1 Person): ?130.00 p/m
Savings / Return (2 People): ?250.00 p/m+
A slow cooker! (A slightly more advanced slow cooker I must say as it includes lots of various functions). I cannot recommend this product enough. On average, I was spending between ?100 – ?130 per month on lunches at work alone for me alone – my partner was also spending a similar amount! This is based on spending around ?5 per working day. Given that this product is priced around ?175.00 (March-2019), this product practically pays for itself in one month. Instead of purchasing meal deals and visiting the supermarket every day which sucks you in to spending more anyway, after dinner each day put the slow cooker on at around 10pm at night and wake up to deliciously smelling, ready prepared, homemade meal for you to take to lunch.
Given this Fast Slow Cooker Pro has a tonne of other features, including pressure cooking and settings for rice, rissotto, soup, stock and desserts (plus many more) it is, hands down one of the best ‘multi-cooking’ devices I’ve ever bought. I have used various slow cookers in the past with the simple ‘High and Low’ dial setting (one of which did just die on us – probably from being used day in day out!), which works perfectly fine as well, however the ability to shove in a joint of meat and cook it in less than 40 minutes with achieving the same texture and taste as one that’s been in the oven for a few hours is such a time saver.
You can cook jacket potatoes, whole chickens, even lasange in these things! Being a lover of a good ole’ jacket potato (of course with chicken mayo) I really can’t fault this product.
To compliment the slow cooker, I would also recommend a recipe book and hot food / storage container, which means when you wake up and your food is still hot in the slow cooker, the moment you transfer it to a hot food flask, it’ll stay hot come until lunch time.
- Thermos Stainless King Food Flask, Midnight Blue, 710 ml
- The Slow Cooker Cookbook: Time-Saving Delicious Recipes for Busy Family Cooks
Both of these products and well worth the investment in my eyes.
3# Professional Coffee Machine (Tastes just like the pro’s)
Savings / Return (1 Person): ?120.00 p/m
Savings / Return (2 People): ?240.00 p/m
Hah! Trust me I’m not some sort of SAGE salesman here – I just find their products to be in line with my purchasing decisions (I.E. Buy quality, buy once type mentality).
COFFEE! I sure do love a cup of old joe – in-fact, more of a coffee snob now since getting this machine. I’ve had this machine for more than well over a year and the savings I have seen from purchasing my own coffee beans and making a coffee at home to start the day off, compared to that of spending at-least ?3 equivalent at Costa / Starbucks, has truly been fantastic. Coffee is a serious expense – I spent at-least ?120p/m to ?180p/m on coffee’s alone throughout the year, totalling a whopping ?1,440 a year in coffee expense! (And this doesn’t even include the weekends / coffee out with friends etc). Now-a-days, I spend a maximum of around ?10-20 per month on a bag of beans, which will last me for the entire month. Bar from the expense of milk of course as well, buying a high quality coffee machine that uses beans (not pods!) provides superior cost savings going forward.
Just like the slow cooker, I have a few complimentary items to go along with this machine;
I use the KeepCup Changemakers Travel mug as my daily coffee transportation device – it fits underneath the nozzle of the SAGE Machine as well, so saves on having to wash up a separate espresso mug. Also the Lavazza Qualita Rossa Coffee beans are definitely my favourite – However the joy of coffee is that there are so many different flavours and combinations – just go wild!
4# Energy Saving Thermostat (Self-Learning)
Savings / Return (Per Home): Good Question! (for me – around ?10.00 p/m)
It’s difficult to put a more meaningful savings figure on this one because your consumption may change on a day by day basis. Essentially, the Nest Thermostat brings your home heating system up to the 21st century, by allowing you to set heating schedules, turn off / on your heating via a handy mobile app / device. There’s lots of savings potential as it makes your heating (ability to turn off / on) more fluid.
Sure, most heating thermostats I imagine have that ability to turn on / off at a click of a button and to set some sort of schedule – however looking through my own consumption, since installing the Nest Device, on average I have saved around ?10p/m on heating oil (I live in an old school house that uses oil so it’s very important to me to ensure that I optimise my heating expenses given the price of oil). The main benefit for me is if I accidently forget to turn the heating down when no-ones at home! Fortunately the Nest covers your back on this and when it picks up that you’re away from your home, it’ll automatically turn down your heating to your desired savings level.
Based on Nest’s own energy stats, the Nest Product in the US has saved (on average) between $131 to $145 per year by installing the device. However I believe the Nest device pays even more dividends than that because it puts you in the mindset of caring about how much energy you are using and without that mindset, then I wouldn’t see the Nest as being as beneficial as it currently is.
5# The Spatty (Basically a long handled spatula)
Savings / Return (Family): Good Question!?It’s more about getting your money’s worth!
So this is quite an obvious one and really it’s not that exciting… You know when you’re using a jar of sauce or trying to get the last bit of ketchup out of the bottle? Most of the time we throw that last bit away and forget about it. Well, if you do that a few times a week (leaving a small amount of sauce in a jar) over the year that’ll sure build up to essentially a full bottle of sauce / jar!
This is a bit of a gimmick, but funnily enough we actually use it quite regularly. Normally when the Ketchup bottle has a small amounts of remnants left in it, we put a bit of vinegar in it just to make it slightly more ‘liquid’ and easier to come out of the bottle. Well now you don’t need to do that anymore! The popular ‘Spatty’ (in the US) has come to the UK under the name of the ‘Norpro’.
I can’t quite make it as exciting as the other products – its a long handled spatula guys… 😀
That’s it so far folks! Of course if there are any products that are worthwhile (in my eyes) mentioning, I shall continue to add on to the list!