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Increasing your discretionary income #thrifty #frugal

Discretionary income is that money you have left after paying for all the essentials like housing, food, heating, essential transport, clothing and communications. These days what is essential is quite different from years ago. We consider communications as essential because it allows us to access services in an emergency such as a medical emergency or when our car breaks down.

discretionary income

Discretionary income

Our discretionary income then determines our standard of living. It is the money that we have left over for the luxuries and for enjoying life after we have paid for all those essentials. If we can cut the cost of the essentials and add some investment income we can literally double our standard of living!

Housing

It can be difficult to cut the cost of housing but in the long-term, it might be possible to move to somewhere smaller and cheaper. It is more realistic to look at whether you can cut the cost of maintaining your home. Always have in mind the cost of maintaining any improvements to your home such as conservatories or extensions. Even maintaining the garden can work out expensive. Many people now favour minimalism as a choice for decor and home furnishings. If you decide on a very plain living space you can make it look elegant with art works on plain walls. Art doesn’t have to be expensive and it can be an investment.

Food

The obvious way to save on food is to cook your own. There are lots of recipes and instructions online and these days inviting friends around for a barbecue is an acceptable alternative to inviting them to a restaurant for a meal. You can also shop at discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl. I tend to shop at Aldi and then Asda some weeks for products Aldi doesn’t stock and an Asian supermarket for my beer!

Heating

We all need to do our bit to slow down climate change. Our winters are actually getting warmer with all the rain. You can take advantage of all the deals on home insulation and cut down on the amount of heat escaping from your home. Obviously, loft insulation comes first, followed by double glazing and cavity wall insulation. I find draught excluders on outside doors and internal doors very useful. If I leave the door closed in my living room for a few hours it gets very warm in there compared to the rooms where doors are being opened and closed. The same applies to my bedroom and the bathroom. These are your rooms you need to have a little warmer.

Transport

There are various ways to save on transport and if you are in good health, walking is the best way. I drive and so I habitually drive in a way that will maximise my MPG by always using a higher gear if I can. I do cut the number of journeys to a certain extent but I mostly go out to enjoy life and the point is to enjoy life more and so going out less isn’t an option for me.

Clothing

I do sometimes buy designer labels because some brands offer better quality. I don’t buy the ones that are popular, though. I look for good value and designs that fit in with a style that I want. We have to buy for certain types of occasion. Sometimes we need casual and sometimes we need business suits. Think about the style you need rather than the brand and if unbranded or a cheap brand will give you the same look then choose that instead of the designer label. You can even get high quality and expensive labels in charity shops. Don’t be too posh for pre-loved!

Communications

People waste lots of money on communications mainly because they want the latest phone now. I bought my phone for cash. Well actually, I put it on my credit card and paid that off about 6 weeks later. I popped a GiffGaff SIM into it and I spend about £5 a month for calls and data. I don’t make many calls and turn my data on when I need it but for many people, a £10 goody bag of calls and data would be plenty.  Use the link in the sidebar if you would like a GiffGaff SIM. There are other providers that do good deals now if your phone isn’t locked into one provider so shop around.

Finally, to increase your discretionary income you can invest and use your investment income. I invest in the stock market and through peer-to-peer lending with Zopa. You’ll find a link to Zopa in the sidebar and you can read about investing on Fridays when I publish my finance posts.

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