I bet there's $20 a day that could be cut from almost every reader's spending.

The suggestion will bring howls of protest from some corners - but check out your bank statement and tell me that every last item was an essential.

I'm not asking anyone to live like a monk. Start with $5 or $10 a day and the behaviour change will soon add up to a tsunami of savings.

Kiwi journalist Richard Meadows saved $100,000 from age 22 to 25 thanks to making what he calls "lifestyle tweaks". Although earning a relatively meagre salary, Meadows hunted down bloat and wastage in his spending and the result poured into his bank account. He talks about it on his blog thedeepdish.org.


Your $20 a day adds up to $140 a week, which financial adviser Liz Koh of MoneyMax says would give you just under $39,000 over five years after tax, invested at a very modest 2.5 per cent interest.

The savings don't have to be conjured up in the same way each day. Maybe you save $20 today on the groceries and $20 tomorrow by not buying something. There will be days when you save nothing, but others where you may save $100 by shopping around.

It's hard to change your mindset, but worth it. Here are some ideas:

Collect fewer possessions
Minimalism has a lot going for it. Since Easter I have been trying to reduce my belongings by three items a day. I wish I'd never bought most of these items that seemed essential at the time. Owing less is kinder on your wallet and the planet.

DIY it
You can fix almost anything yourself with the help of Dr YouTube. If you're bad at DIY at least try to fix the occasional thing yourself. I managed to sort out a problem with my toilet cistern, the savings from which added up to at least a week's worth of my $20 a day savings.

Keep your ego in check
Do you really need that $25,000 car? Would the one you have live for another five or 10 years? Why are you buying top of the line?

Go op shop
Challenge your entire family to buy all clothing for one year only at op shops, says Glen Mattingley, at New Zealand Home Loans. I couldn't agree more, but would forgive readers for buying only new undies and socks. Most of what we buy is wants dressed up as needs.

Not buying it
Fortunately for my wallet, I'm a procrastinator. The new lounge suite I meant to buy two years ago still hasn't eventuated. Let's say a $3000 lounge suite lasts 20 years. That's $150 a year, or 7.5 days of savings.

Kick the smokes
If you smoke look no further. Yes, it's hard to give up smoking. But ask Quitline. People can and do give up.

Don't pay credit card interest ever
This one's a vicious circle. The more of those unnecessary $20 a day purchases you make the bigger the credit card bill. Cut it up if you can't pay it off in full each month.

Live somewhere cheaper
If you're renting, move in with others, or take in a flatmate/boarder/student. If you own your own home, don't upgrade, or extend. Learn to be satisfied with what you have.

Cut food costs
Most items in our supermarket trolleys simply aren't necessary to live a healthy life. Don't cut out all your luxuries. But almost all families could easily reduce the cost of trips to the supermarket by $20 or more.

Turn every day back into treats
Bananas were a treat when I was young and now they're an everyday food. So too are all the fancy cheeses I buy, the Soda Stream concentrates, the meat and a whole bunch of other purchases such as grabbing sushi for lunch. Turn these back into treats.

Game it
Look for cunning ways to save money such as stopping food waste, cycling, going on a financial fast several days a week or permanently. Make a game of finding even more clever ways to notch up another $20.

Save it first
I bumped into Simplicity's Sam Stubbs this week. His advice over and above homemade coffee was to take the $20 a day out of your account on payday and deposit it into a separate account. Then adjust your spending habits accordingly. In order to do that, however, you need to prevent access to credit and live on what's coming in.

Don't cheat yourself by making excuses or double counting
It's amazing what is no longer a necessity when you have a goal and a spreadsheet, or other way of keeping yourself honest.