One thing I have noticed as I navigate the internet is that there is a plethora of information available for you no matter what stage of adulting you are trying to master: cooking, shopping, planning, budgeting…the list goes on. I dutifully click the how-to lists and soak up the information. All of it is so useful, so helpful, so beneficial…for people living in America.
When it comes to the Top 10 Ways to ______ posts, we can all agree that they are better served by those who do not live in Anguilla. This is of no fault of the authors; people can only write about their own experiences. The thing is, when we want to start tailoring our budget in Anguilla, things like “cutting out Uber and walking” or “not buying Starbucks” aren’t going to help us. We can’t save more money by avoiding “BOGO Sales” because we don’t have malls. I always finish perusing articles of this nature feeling even more dejected– obviously there is NO WAY I can change things in my day-to-day life to save a penny here and there since I don’t even do the things they are talking about.
Then it occurred to me: the reason there is no how-to that relates to me is because no one has written it. It is, in a sense, not the internet’s fault that there is no Anguillian voice in the matter; it’s mine. Too many articles are about how to save money in Anguilla as a tourist. Where is the one on how to save money as a local? Hence the brainchild behind this list.
If you live in Anguilla, the following information is for you
1. Stop Buying Breakfast
It’s super tempting to hit the ground running in the morning by not making breakfast at home. A lot of people grab a sandwich from the bakery on their way to work or pop out of the office to do it. A typical breakfast sandwich costs about EC$9. You can stand in line and hear the shouts of “tuna cheese mix peff out” and “one cheese cake, please, miss” from other souls like yours. If you are purchasing a sandwich every morning before work, that can end up costing you EC$45 a week. Now, what about the fact that you are probably buying a large juice with your sandwich: add about another EC$6 per day. You are looking at spending EC$300 monthly on breakfast.
What about those who buy “cook food” for breakfast? Spending around EC$20 daily on eggs, saltfish, johnny cake and green salad is even more costly.
You can buy the things you need to make yourself breakfast every morning and see a significant difference in your monthly expenditure. All you need to do is wake up about twenty minutes earlier to put it all together for yourself.
2. Walk With Your Own Lunch
Along the same lines, let’s examine how much money is spent buying lunch daily. Most vendors price their lunchtime meals between US$10 and US$15 or EC$27 and EC$40. For the sake of our discussion, let’s pick the median cost of EC$32 as our meal price. So, it’s lunch time and you’re standing in line waiting even though you ordered on the phone at 11:30. You are about to spend EC$32 on your meal and yet another EC$6 on a juice: EC$38 per day on lunch… EC$190 per week…EC$760 per month on lunch.
Monthly Expenditure Check: EC$1,060 on breakfast and lunch
3. Limit Dining Out
Seriously, you have food at home.
I had to throw this one in at this point, because it was the largest pocket breaker for me. I love to eat dinner out. I love sitting in a restaurant, I love the variety of foods I can order, and most of all I love not having to cook or clean up. I would justify eating out because I was too “busy” to cook or I was “tired from working” and it was just simpler to eat dinner out. None of these things are wrong, but when you are buying your child US$7 grilled cheese sandwiches three times a week you start to question your financial decisions.
On average, even eating dinner out at a moderately-priced restaurant in Anguilla like Blanchards Beach Shack can end up running you about US$80 a pop for three or four people. At one point, I was eating dinner out at least three days a week.
Save eating out for special occasions or limit your dining to once per week at most.
Monthly Expenditure Check: By taking your lunch to work and eating meals at home in the evening, you will also be able to manage your leftovers and reduce food wastage.
4. Stop Drinking Alcohol at Restaurants
Living in Anguilla, we are all aware that one of the only things to really do socially is go out to drink. Alcohol is a central aspect of socialisation in the West Indies, and no different here. If you are looking at ways to cut back– just say no. On average, a cocktail at a restaurant is around US$8 and you may end up having two or three. If you are out for a meal with friends, it is very possible that the cost of your food can end up equating to the cost of your drinks. Instead of buying an alcoholic beverage, limit yourself to one soft drink.
5. Water Bottles!
On the road, a small bottle of water will run you US$1. If you have school-aged children, you will end up spending at least this per day. One of the easiest cost-reducers is to invest in a water bottle and bring your own water from home. You will save a significant amount of money monthly by doing this.
Additionally, walk with a large 1.5L bottle when you are going to the beach to avoid having to buy water at a restaurant. The same bottle that is US$2 at the grocery store is (on average) US$5 at a restaurant.
Monthly Expenditure Check: You can save by buying cases of water and bringing your own water from home. Buying water on the road means you could be spending an extra EC$100 a month on hydration.
6. Reconsider Your Gym Membership
This is one that actually aligns with most of the budget tips already available online. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You may be paying for a gym membership and only going once per week. Or, you may be using the membership as a driver for even working out. Once you are self-motivated, you shouldn’t need the money spent as your motivation for being fit. There are plenty of ways to workout for free in your own home using videos on YouTube or workout lists from Pinterest. If you are not serious about your gym membership or feel that you aren’t utilising it enough, then consider saving US$50 per month by cutting it from your budget.
I did this after I realised that I was only keeping my gym membership because I enjoyed using the spin bike. By investing in my own spin bike, I am able to cut that monthly charge out of my life forever.
7. Actually Fill Your Car at the Gas Station
It is so staggering to fill up your gas tank in Anguilla. With gas being around EC$16.50 a gallon, who wouldn’t have a mini heart attack at the tank. When I started controlling my spending by budgeting for gas, I realised how many people here actually don’t. I used to be the US$30 gas station person, too. It “felt” better than spending US$70 at once. However, filling your tank piece-piece doesn’t allow you to see where your money (and your petrol) is actually going. When I started completely filling my tank, I was able to estimate how long a tank of gas would last me. By doing this, I was able to tailor my running around to use my fuel smartly because I was aware of how long a tank could last. By filling your tank weekly (or in my case, every ninth day) you will be able to confidently know how much you are spending on gas every month and budget accordingly.
Monthly Expenditure Check: I budget US$280 a month on gasoline for my car. Your car might even cost less to fill if you check it out.
8. Pick One: Nails or Hair
About seven years ago, I stopped going to the hairdresser. I used to be in the salon every other week for a US$40 wash and treat. By purchasing products to do this myself at home, I was able to cut out that expense. My motivating factor behind this was that I realised I was spending way too much on beauty maintenance. Since I can’t do my own acrylic manicures, I decided to focus on what I could do myself. So, ladies, pick one and do the other yourself. Your debit card will thank you.
Monthly Expenditure Check: By cutting out one or the other, you could save at least US$50 each month.
9. Stop Buying a New Outfit for Everything
Culturally, we seem to have a problem wearing the same thing twice. I think it has to do with it being a small society– it’s almost like everyone is a celebrity. To make matters worse, every damn event has images posted on social media so your outfit becomes immortalised. We get caught up in the sticky web of “I ain’t see she in dat a’ready?” . We also get caught up in the hype of each event and the imperceivable pressure to be seen in the latest. Resist. You can save so much money by releasing the concept that you need to be in something new for every pan that knocks.
10. Shop Local
Ordering online can appear to be inexpensive and enticing, but by the time you pay US$12 in shipping from the freight forwarder and then about 26% duty on your purchase (AND the shipping costs), you may find that it was actually more fiscally responsible to purchase the item locally. Another perk of this is that you are supporting a local business owner and helping out our local economy.
Also, most of the grocery stores in Anguilla actually appreciate when you alert them to an item you would like to see stocked because they are sensitive to meeting the needs of customers. I have had success with getting several things I used to need to purchase internationally made available on the shelves of local stores simply by making mention of it to the owner.
If you really need items that cannot be locally sourced, consider using a consolidation service so that you aren’t receiving multiple packages and incurring the incumbent freight forwarding costs (Amazon is a killer for doing this).
11. Brush Your Dog
If you are the (responsible) owner of a small, fluffy dog, then you know that you can spend US$45 every few weeks taking your pup to the groomer. By buying a wire dog brush, haircutting scissors, and allotting time to grooming your dog yourself, you can extend the time between doggie hairdresser visits.
I make it a point to brush my Maltese mix at least once every other day and do small trims on the fur around her eyes and paws once every two weeks. This helps to reduce (or even eliminate) matting, maintain the results of her professional grooming, and ultimately save me money.
12. Making a [Grocery] List and Checking it Twice
Your food budget can make it on the nice list through this simple weekly habit borrowed from the American money-saving tips. The concept is to be smart and frugal about your grocery shopping. Make a quick sketch of what you think you will be cooking for the week and be sure that the meal items can utilise some of the same ingredients so you don’t end up with veggies that rot or expensive cartons of heavy cream that spoil.
I traded in some of my senseless Instagram scrolling for productive Pinterest browsing and was able to plan out weekly meals that make use of crossover ingredients. By smart shopping, you can be sure that you aren’t throwing things out at the end of the week.
Monthly Expenditure Check: You can work in your breakfast and lunch options to your weekly grocery shopping to really see the value of your dollar. Buy local eggs to save even more at the store.
The bottom line…
Ultimately, in no way do I consider myself a financial expert. I do, however, consider myself a former chronic over-spender who lives in Anguilla. Making simple lifestyle changes and doing some self-reflection was my first step in reforming my money habits. I hope this little list can be helpful in assisting you to reform your own.
cover image from nationnews.com