Sun Voyager Sculpture in Reykjavik, Iceland – Intended to convey the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress, and freedom.

What if you absolutely had to spend significantly more on housing or another expense? How would you get by? This article is all about putting yourself in a creative state of mind for money savings.

A few years ago I planned a trip to Iceland. It was a fantastic trip and everywhere I turned I saw something new and enchanting from the landscape to the citizens behavior towards women. One of the many interesting things was the cost of food. For a bowl of stew, which seemed to be sometimes the only option in a town, the cost in US dollars was nearly $20. I had always associated prices like that with luxurious living, but it was just the norm there. People still went on living their lives and adapted to the price of food.

I’ve also experienced living in a part of the country where the average cost of a one bedroom apartment was $917 to a part of the country where the average was $2,483. This is without a significant difference in salary. That experience greatly improved my frugal creativity.

My point is, when forced to, you can find money hidden in your habits that could be be saved and invested painlessly.

Take Sweden for example. Their average savings rate from 1999 to 2017 is 12.89%, compared to the United States’ of 8.3% from 1959-2017. Yet the price of food is more expensive. For example, a BigMac costs 4% more in Sweden than in the United States. How are Swedes able to save more when they’re spending more on food?

I know it’s not as easy as looking at a couple numbers and coming to the conclusion that our saving skills are bad, but maybe there is still something to learn from evaluating the habits of countries and cities that are able to save more even amongst a higher cost of living.

So here’s an exercise to fine tune us into sleek and clever savings masters.

  1. Pull up your budget (creating a budget advice can be found here!)
  2. Pretend you moved to San Jose, CA and change your housing cost to the average for that size of apartment size or house in San Jose.
  3. Now go through all other expenses and write down where you could save money to accommodate for this increase in housing cost. Maybe you have to make several changes to your budget such as, find a cheaper cell phone plan, eat out less or at cheaper restaurants, buy toiletries at the dollar store, etc. You may also consider new ways to make money. Continue to evaluate expenses until you are able to afford living in San Jose.
  4. Go through the list created in step 3 and see if any of the expense reducing and income increasing ideas seem mostly painless and would not significantly reduce your quality of life.
  5. Enact the painless money saving ideas discovered and redirect those savings to your savings account.

In a month come back to this exercise and do it again; you will find even more ways to save that do not significantly change your quality of life and are painless.



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