Yeah Mr TEA, we’re loving the fancy psychology…but what about some meat and potatoes?…how about some actionable consumer advice for UK FI-seekers. Where can we get stuff for less?
OK, so this week I’m putting up in one place where I buy my stuff from.
In order to beat the system ethically and stick it to The Man, we’re going to be using the principles of life-hacking, including crowd sourcing and alignment of interests.
Crowd sourcing is why Ask The Audience is the best lifeline on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? So the way I’d like this to work is that I put up some suggestions and then you frugality ninjas out there can laugh at my extravagance and suggest smarter / better / cheaper alternatives via the comments section. If you’ve got a better idea than mine, great…leave a comment.
Alignment of interests is when you benefit by being on the same side of the deal as someone smart and well informed. If Warren Buffett is buying, would you rather be buying or selling at the same price? Avoid conflicts of interest. Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.
The stuff on this page is what I actually buy and use. I’m on your side brothers and sisters, so cut me some slack in the comments. I may not always be right, but I’ll always be honest.
Investing can be made simple enough for everyone to manage their own portfolio. If someone else manages your investments, then you are being screwed.
You can use Monevator to find the lowest cost broker / platform as well as lots of free info on investing.
Personally my favourite is The Share Centre. I like The Share Centre for UK and international shares as they don’t screw you with an FX commission (unlike many other platforms). The service is excellent and its really easy to transfer an existing portfolio over to them. They will even pay the exit fees levied by your current platform.
For spending in the UK, I use the American Express platinum cashback card which gives 1% cashback and has no fee. Why wouldn’t you want a 1% discount on everything? Just don’t spend anymore than you would have done if you’d used cash. Pay the balance off every month by direct debit and never, ever pay interest. Obviously.
When overseas, I use the Halifax Clarity Mastercard which is the best way not to get shafted with ridiculous hidden FX charges.
Use Moneysavingexpert to find the best deal. Look for a flexible mortgage that allows over-payments with no penalties. Then pay off your mortgage as if it were an emergency (it is) and 15% interest rates were coming back in a couple of years time (they might be).
Consider an offset mortgage. This is like having a flexible line of credit and has hidden option value.
If you own a house and have a spare room, rent it out. If you want cheaper rent, share a house or flat. Either way, take a look at www.spareroom.co.uk.
I think of cars as Money Incineration Units. The bigger the car, the more money it can burn.
If you want a large and super-luxurious family car that’s cheap to run, the Skoda Octavia works really well and is what we have. The (smaller) Skoda Fabia is even cheaper. You can also check out the Seat Toledo or any small car by Toyota or Citroen. Diesel not petrol. Used not new. Cash not finance. Obviously.
Can you live with 1 car rather than 2? Do you have a bike? Legs? If you drive distances less than 5 miles, you are at risk of Car-Clown Syndrome.
Buy real food that grew in a field or used to walk / swim / fly. Read the book The De Vany Diet (also called The New Evolution Diet).
Avoid ready meals and other stuff made in factories. That means avoiding brands, packaging and processed food.
We use Tesco home delivery which is the height of decadent luxury. Why pay more? Frugality ninjas should check out Costco, Aldi and Lidl.
Don’t confuse saving money with deprivation. Experiment with blind taste testing to see whether its really worth paying more. For example, I blind taste-tested Lidl’s fruit and nut chocolate versus Cadbury’s and am now a huge fan (Lidl’s is a fraction of the price).
Here’s a clue…anything on a multi year contract is probably a rip-off. Why the fuck would you allow yourself to get locked into a 3 year contract when telecoms bandwidth expands exponentially and the price of IT related shit comes down every year? Respect Moore’s Law and the value of optionality.
Check out the smaller brands (3, Giff Gaff, Lebara). I’m on the 3 network with a pay as you go tariff which is as cheap as chips…even when you are overseas.
Are free from your local library. Or can be bought used from Amazon for next to nothing. You can get a better education (virtually free) by reading the right books than you can from any university.
Satellite / Cable TV
Are you kidding? Why would you pay money for the privilege of having someone beam adverts, news and other toxic waste at you?
If you insist on watching TV, you can watch the BBC free on iplayer with no adverts messing with your head. You are also allowed to watch Channel 4 if you fast-forward over the ads. We also use Netflix which is good for films and documentaries.
Newspapers and magazines
No need to spend any money on these. Newspapers should be treated with scepticism. Glossy magazines are toxic and full of consumerist propaganda: avoid.
Essential : interviews with FI gurus
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Bikes are incredible frugality machines that come with healthy side effects like small bones and fast metabolisms. You can get a bike second hand for almost nothing.
What do you mean you don’t ride a bike? Bikes are incredible frugality machines that provide free transport plus healthy side effects like small bones and fast metabolisms.
You can get a bike second hand for almost nothing. Try local ads, Gumtree, Freecycle etc. Use Ebay to find high end nearly new bikes at large discounts to the showroom price.
If you want a fancy new road bike then anything from Trek or Specialized between £500 and £1,000 will be more than enough bike for 99% of the population. If you’re not a professional cyclist, I’d recommend the Trek 1.5 or the Specialized Allez road bikes. If you are a professional cyclist, you should be using your team sponsors bike…so that’ll be free then.
Gas / electric
Two thirds of home energy costs are spent heating the air. Get your house properly insulated (start with the loft and cavity walls). Grants are often available so this might even be free. Experiment with turning down the thermostat by 1 degree and wearing clothes.
We use the Moneysavingexpert Cheap Energy Club to tell us what provider and tariff is cheapest.
Find out if you are on a water meter or not. If not, you can ask the water company to install one. Our bills went down when we did this but obviously this might not be the case for everyone.
Can you give your children an elite private education for free?
State schools are free in the UK. And no, standards have not fallen. If you’d been to my comprehensive school, you’d know that.
Health insurance is unnecessary in the UK. If its serious, the NHS provides great healthcare. If there’s a long waiting list, use some of the money you’ve saved to pay for what you need.
Ditch that expensive private gym subscription. Local authority gyms are cheaper. Exercise more naturally. Use your bike. Walk. Take the stairs. Do press-ups. Try sprinting – like you are being chased by a lion – every now and again. Read the book Convict Conditioning. Check out your local Park Run.
…are luxuries and not required spending. But they can be bought for under £90 here.
Go off peak. Use the internet to unbundle holidays and see if that’s cheaper than the cost of a package. Try booking direct with the owner of your villa / apartment. Always negotiate. For a family it can be cheaper to drive not fly to Europe in peak season.
Consider a house swap or renting out your house while you are away.
Is free and is all around you…enjoy it. Rent your own country estate the cheap way with The National Trust. Own thousands of acres of private woodland via The Woodland Trust. Get ridiculously cheap accommodation in amazing locations by joining the YHA.
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