Is saving money for the down payment on your investment property almost impossible? Do you feel hopeless because you think real estate investing is something only “The Rich” can afford to do?
Well there’s hope for you. I’m a single mom and have always been a pretty big spender since I love fashion, handbags, nice jewellery, and dining out. Using some of the creative money-saving tips below, I am still able live in style, do things that I like AND save money. One thing I recommend for my readers is to think of your spending like a Walmart receipt. Everything at Walmart is pretty inexpensive, but by the time you get your very long bill, the total is $250 or more! And you think to yourself, “Holy cow, what did I buy?” Therefore, a coffee can be $3.50 and a pair of pants can be $55.00, and it all seems affordable at the time, but at month end, you’ll realize that those items are not affordable at all!
If this is your first time reading my blog, go to my previous posting, Budgeting to Save for your Property Down Payment for Part 1 of my money-saving advice.
Ask Family for Support
Here’s where being shy with family isn’t going to get you too far. Your familyare the people who love you the most and are here to support you. But they aren’t mind readers. Tell family your goals; show them the numbers, projected ROI and the research behind why you feel you have a good investment opportunity.
What I have learned early in life is, ASK and you shall receive. If you don’t ask, you will never receive. Nobody will know what you need unless you communicate your thoughts, and if it is a reasonable request, most people will naturally want to help you.
My experience with asking family for support has been much easier than I originally thought possible. I called my Dad (who lives in China) and told him what I needed money for, and within 10 days, he sent over 40% of the down payment I needed… as a GIFT to me! Gotta love dads, right?
My Mom was equally supportive. I told her my goals and the very next day, she wrote me a cheque matching my dad’s contribution. My mom doesn’t work, so I agreed to pay her back with interest.
With my lovely parents contributing 80% of my down payment, it left me with just 20% to save myself, and I’m happy to report that I have saved this amount in just 13 weeks. Although it was possible to save 100% of the funds myself, you can see here that leveraging off others works much faster. As smart investors, our goal should be to acquire as many profitable investments in the shortest period of time; therefore, using other people’s money (OPM) is something you should feel comfortable doing.
Now that we have covered OPM, let’s talk about saving your own money. I have incorporated some money-saving ideas I use that have helped me to spend less than what I make. Some of my ideas sound easy, but I’ve also had to change my outlook. That is, instead of going shopping when I’m bored – I now read, enjoy the outdoors and hang out with friends and family.
It’s a pretty hefty list of money-saving tips, but if you’re serious about owning multiple investment properties, I suggest incorporating these small changes into your daily life.
The Savings Account
- Save commissions. If you earn a salary and commission, I encourage you to spend the salary for daily living expenses and save the commissions. Ask your work to deposit the commissions to a savings account that you don’t touch.
- Save at least 10% of salary. If you don’t earn commissions, auto-transfer minimum 10% of your paycheque the same day you receive it. That way, you get used to spending less.
- Save tax refunds & bonuses. Most people go on holidays or reward themselves with an expensive toy when they receive their tax refund or work bonus. As a smart investor, you need to deposit those funds right into your savings account and don’t ever make a withdrawal unless it is to your lawyer when you purchase that property!
Reduce the Plastic, Wait and Restraint
- Reduce the number of credit cards you have. From five cards, I currently have two. I’ve lowered the limit of one of them and only carry the card with the lower limit. The higher limit card is left at home and used it to make large emergency-type purchases. This helps to reduce temptation to impulse buy expensive things… because you can’t.
- Pay with cash, feel the pain. There’s something about handing someone dollar bills that makes it hurts that much more to part with it.
- Have a 30 day waiting period for big purchases. I found that after waiting a month, I often realize I really don’t need the item and that it doesn’t help me with my financial goals.
- Don’t go shopping! This is the most important thing you can do to save money. If you don’t see it, you won’t be tempted to buy it. Simple.
Home Renovations & House Cleaning
- Do it yourself. Or if you’re hopeless with tools like me, ask a guy friend to help with small renos.
- Hire Asian workers. When I renovated my basement suite, I got quotes from Caucasian companies and Chinese companies. The Chinese guys charged 50-60% less than the other guys. Yes, they wanted me to pay cash for the labour, but the amount I saved was well worth it.
- Hire Asian House Cleaners. Cleaning daily and weekly reduces the need to hire anyone to help, however at times when my house is really out of control gross, I’ll call my Filipino girl who charges $10.50 an hour and is FANTASTIC. She does the dishes, cleans my refrigerator, the bathroom, irons clothes, dusts the blinds and even folds my laundry. I’ll never share her, so you’ll need to find your own Asian maid.
Buy from Discount Websites
Groupon, Social Shopper & Red Pocket are on top of my list of websites that offer quality goods and services. These sites offer 50-70% off unique products, services and food. Both Groupon & Social Shopper have convenient iPhone apps so you don’t get bombarded with daily e-mails. Red Pocket is just like the others except it features Asian businesses & restaurants. The key is to purchase only items you would normally use anyway like oil changes, some meals, and fitness. The following are a list of deals I’ve purchased recently:
- Package of 3 oil changes for $45 or 74% off (Red Pocket)
- Spa retreats, fitness classes, and dinners for 50-70% off
- Junk removal for up to 500 lbs for $35
- High tea for two people for $30
- Buy pre-owned cars. What would you rather do? Buy a brand new car that depreciates 40% in the first year, or use the same money to buy an asset that appreciates and generates monthly income to secure your future?
- Go to Point Roberts to put in gas if you live in Richmond or Surrey. I usually save over $20 on a tank of gas. That’s $80 in savings each month!
- Get the app “Gas Buddy” to find cheap gas around town
- Cancel Cable TV. I rarely watch TV except for the news, certain TV shows and movies, so I can’t justify paying over $80 a month for it. Instead, I resort to Twitter, Apple TV & Netflix.
- Twitter allows me to get breaking news stories by following CNN, News 1130, and Business in Vancouver
- Apple TV costs a one-time investment of $109 and you can watch YouTube videos, as well as stream music, photos, and a bunch of stuff through your iPhone, iPod, or iPad
- Netflix and iTunes allows me to watch TV shows and movies. Netflix costs $7.99 per month and iTunes charges only when I rent new movie releases
- Watch videos as opposed to going to the movies.
- Buy $6 Cineplex movie passes in bulk.
- Read. Books, magazines, or the internet.
- Play board games. I have two young kids and we love playing cards and board games. It’s entertaining, interactive and free!
- Go outdoors when it’s nice out. Bike, roller blade, jog, do the Grouse Grind or go to the beach.
- Trade and borrow from friends. This can be anything from clothes, books, CDs & DVDs. There’s always someone who has something that you need.
- Borrow from the library. Did you know that the library has new video releases and best-selling books? If you’re like me and rarely see the same movie or read the same book twice, I highly recommend you check out your local library
- Refill printer ink cartridges instead of buying new ones.
- Print in draft mode as it uses less ink.
- Print double-sided. Not only are you saving paper, you’re also saving the planet by using less.
- Unplug electronic devices and turn off lights when you’re not using them.
- If you have a cell phone, get rid of your land line.
- Use a portable heater. For my basement tenants who work at night, I give them a heater as heating the entire house in the daytime when my girls and I are out is not an option.
- Use a timer for your lights and thermostat. For a $20-$50 investment, you’ll never need to remember to turn things off when you leave home.
- Put on a sweater or open up the windows.
- Use compact fluorescent bulb or LED’s. Although they cost more than regular light bulbs, they last up to 10 times longer and use up to 75% less energy.
- Install aerating low-flow faucets and shower heads to limit your water usage.
- Lower the water heating temperature. 120 degrees is probably hot enough for most people.
- Winterize your home by sealing large windows.
- Travel to where you have friends and family and crash at their place. Make sure to bring them a small gift and offer to make dinner. Not only do you get to stay for practically free, you get precious quality time with people you don’t see often.
- Bid for hotels through Priceline. I can’t tell you how much I’ve saved using Priceline. You can get 4 star hotels for $50-$85 per night depending on the season.
- If you don’t know how much to start your Priceline bid, go to www.betterbidding.com or www.biddingtraveller.com to find the latest winning bids.
- If travelling to the US, fly from Bellingham or Seattle.
- If travelling to a sunny destination, stay at an all-inclusive resort.
Clothes & Appliances
- Wash and iron your own clothes instead of bringing them to the drycleaners.
- Limit wearing clothes that are “dry-clean” only.
- Buy clothes and appliances on sale. Check out the local flyers as there’s lots on sale every week. Or better yet, ask the newspapers not to send you any flyers. That way, what you don’t know won’t hurt you.
- Take care of yourself. The healthier you are, the less likely you’ll spend money on medications. I had the flu from December to January and according to my budgeting app, I spent $80 unnecessary dollars on meds in those two months!
- Ditch the costly gym membership, go jogging outdoors, or get a mat & dumbbells to work out at home
- Buy a 10-entry fitness passes. I have them for my local community center gym and Yyoga. I do recommend this if you’re like me and only work out once or twice a week. I’ve been able to alternate my workout routine and stretch my two passes for 3-4 months each this way.
- Invest 2-3 minutes twice per day for proper dental hygiene. Taking care of your teeth will prevent costly dental visits. My daughter just got a root canal and even with extended insurance that pays 90%, I still had to pay $77.
- Work somewhere that offers extended medical insurance. Even if you don’t wear glasses or require massages or any of the other services, you never know when there will be an emergency such as an expensive root canal. Having adequate coverage will save you tons of cash.
- Shop with a list. Studies show that when you shop with a list, you spend less than if you randomly put stuff into your shopping basket. A list helps you concentrate on buying only what you need. I use the Errands app on my iPhone and enter my shopping list randomly when something runs out at home. I love it because I can categorize by store and comes with a handy checklist where items disappear once I’ve tagged them as purchased.
- Cook at home and make extra food at dinner time and save it for lunch the next day.
- Brown bag your lunch. It’s not only cheaper, it also a lot more healthy than going out to eat. Besides, who’s got time to eat out every day at work?
- Drink more water as opposed to juices, pop or coffee. Water does a body (and wallet) good.
- Carry a double-insulated drink bottle on weekend outings and holidays. Drinks stay cold (or warm) for over 10 hours even if you leave it in your car on a super sunny day. I was in Disneyland with my girls a few years ago and after a full day of activities, when we got back to the hotel at 10pm, our drinks still had ice in them. Not only is it nice to have a cold drink all day, if you also have kids, it will also save you tons of money from buying expensive amusement park drinks.
- Get take-out instead of eating in at restaurants. Time and gratuity are both saved here.
- If you like organic food, go to Trader Joe’s in Bellingham. They have amazing food for 40-50% less than Choices or Whole Foods and is worth the drive. Many of my friends and family do it.
- Same with Costco Bellingham. Some staples like milk and cheese are way cheaper than in Vancouver.
- To me, it’s not the gift but the thought that counts. Giving small tokens that show you were listening when friends and family speak about what they like or need will go a long way. Cards with a special note and appreciation letters all score big. Loved ones will understand you are saving for something BIG and are more than happy to support your goals.
- Offer them a service instead. Wardrobe organization, massages or home cleaning are on top of the list. I have to admit I’ve never given these to anyone before, but I’m more than open to RECEIVING these services if any of my friends or family are reading this!
- Shop in the U.S. Macy’s & Sears usually have amazing sales and Target is always well priced. It’s unlikely your friends or family will shop there, so they’ll never find out their gift was on sale.
- Re-gifting. Completely taboo, but let’s admit we ALL do it, especially when it comes to your children’s friends, distant relatives and the in-laws. These people won’t ever call you on it and will likely never know. Two things I advise here is 1) label who gave you the gift before putting it in your “re-gifting” box and 2) Don’t re-gift to your close friends or family, because they WILL call you on it. ; )
- Isn’t buying expensive things incompatible with frugality? No, frugality isn’t about being cheap, it’s about getting the best value and sometimes that means paying more to save more. Think about cost per use as opposed to total cost.
- Need vs. Wants. When buying expensive items though, really think about if this is a need or a want. Chances are your expensive item will be a want. If you limit spending on needs and not wants, your money will go that much farther into your savings account.
– by Teresa Leung
If you remember only one thing from my blog to help save money, it’s HIRE ASIAN WORKERS! Ha-ha- not. Everything on my list is pretty easy to do and can easily be adapted in your everyday life. Remember that you’re not being cheap, you’re just spending wiser. You still get to do everything you normally do, except go on shopping sprees. The rich get richer by not spending, and if your goal is to have abundance in your life, follow what people with abundance do.
I am a licensed realtor dedicated to securing you wealth through strategic real estate investment. My mission is to help you achieve financial freedom by creating enough passive income to eventually replace your working income, so that you can spend more time doing what you love with the people you care about. For more information, go to www.pointbinvestment.ca.