Ant and Grasshopper fable, savvy renter’s guideline with tips to take a broader view about household costs and save money as consumer/occupant.



Grasshopper Fable

 How Savvy Renters talk Sense and save Household Costs?


Who are the lucky ones?


This question relates to the article  “You don't know how lucky you are in NZ” on the www.stuff.co.nz. Well, you can compare NZ with social strong economies or just pick one of the poorest nations. So, you can back up your opinion in both directions. But what would you say to hard working families on two low incomes struggling to pay the rent  or homeowners who are locked into a mortgage that leaves no money for keeping up with maintenance or repairs?  Does this article offer anything for both cases?


When the housing costs outrun inflation and councils drive CVs up for charging higher rates, are those  capital value calculations plausible toy you? Everybody know in the meantime that the CV is in use as barometer for house prices (market prices). What will be the relief?

Actually, to reduce housing costs there is no relief and the recent changes to the tenancy law possibly have the opposite effect on rents.


Saving money, well, you are on your own. In situations like that I remember kid’s stories I have been told. When it comes to politicians I remember the Pinocchios story, the little boy whose nose would grow every time he told a lie. But my favorite telling is the “Ant and Grasshopper fable”.  In the nutshell this fable features a Grasshopper, who used to sing in time of plenty and the Ant rather kept tireless busy preparing for the long winter. The Grasshopper even worse is making fun of the Ant for its work ethic. When winter arrived, the Ant had a good time, and the Grasshopper was starving… (you might know it or follow the link).



How to carry on with The Grasshopper Fable?


Well, the Grasshopper in the cold and without home made a submission to the government before starving to death. As the result, not the social conditions to save in times of plenty for rainy days for everyone have changed, no, the government increased taxes for ants. And even worse, when the Ant could not keep up with payments anymore, was bankrupted and  evicted. If you don’t believe that story, look at countries where the middle class shrinks. The middle class carries a nation, the lower class can’t, the upper class won’t.


My message here is, it makes sense to tell kids stories, as they might be remembered in times of need. However, I also want to bring a sense of reality to the whole thing when looking at the current housing cost situation. What are the options to survive cold winters? Possibly the hardest thing to do is making changes to habits and lifestyle. Let me help you with some tips.



How do renters, consumers, occupants save money?

Some tips or all together will save consumers/occupants a significant amount of money if especially renters change habits and take a long-term view. Why not try?


Save on housing

· Reduce your rent, choose a smaller home but don’t compromise on quality

· Save on transport, rent closer to work and walk one bus stop or two

· Choose housing with economical heating and/or good heat retention

· Know the difference between radiant and convection heat and use that knowledge wisely. Heat-pumps in houses with poor heat retention cost you a fortune

· Consider outdoor space like a backyard for free entertainment, a garden for growing fruits and vegetables, secure parking


Reduce the numbers on your electricity bill

· Turn off electrical devices (video, computers, television, etc) instead of stand-by and lights when not needed.

· Save on hot water consumption by limiting time under the shower

· Use energy saving light bulbs and appliances with low energy consumption

· Protect your electronic devices like TV, computer, stereo, etc with a surge protector against over voltage (expensive repairs or total loss)

· Be knowledgeable about heat-pumps, they work like a fan-heater, switched off and the temperature drops instantly. The input for 5kWatt will be around 1.5kWatt  or ca. 15 units a day (multiplied with the unit price of $0.23-$0.30, check with your power bill and do the mathematics)


Save by changing eating habits

· Eat out less and cut back on take-away and convenience foods.

· Prepare your own lunch.

· Buy bulk foods and surprise family and friends with cooking skills.

· Get fresh foods from the local farmer’s market for a fraction of the price you would pay at  super markets

· Cook and bake at home and use teas and herbs from your (pot) garden


Lifestyle changes to reduce expenses

· Find an additional part-time work or turn your hobby into something that pays bills

· Join the club of DIYs. For a kick start the hardware stores offer free night courses for most household repairs

· Instead of throwing stuff out, do repairs and involve your kids (good opportunity for bonding)

· Encourage your family to produce self-made gifts and little presents

· Cut back on alcohol, cigarettes and related spending

· Make informed shopping decisions

· Go shopping with a shopping list, don’t permit impulsive buying,  no matter how tempting special sales might be

· Cancel club memberships where you don’t have time for regular attending

· Cancel pay TV channels and do some health and fitness related activities instead. To be informed use TV online and TV on demand.

· Delay a new vehicle purchase and keep the older car for longer

· Avoid speeding  to save petrol and speedy tickets

· Treat your life like an investment, use time wisely, obtain new skills and knowledge resulting in better paid jobs

· Be a Role Model for your kids. If necessary, be tough to say NO. It is too easy to give in to demands of a screaming child. 


Save bank and administration fees


· Reduce the numbers of bank accounts and Credit Cards.

· Choose a bank that gives you reward points on Credit Card spending and offers savings on bank fees

· Use reward programs to get discounts

· Make paying off debts to priority and execute a saving plan

· Pay expensive debts like Credit Cards firstly


Your Take-Away

Simply make adjustments in life and save a fortune on long-term. Often losing money is because of bad habits like running the TV or lights when not needed, paying penalties for laziness, or wasting resources and not making informed decisions. 


Managing tough times is your job, nobody will take it off your shoulders. Good luck.



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Renter’s Blog lead to a real person, IT professional, investor, landlord and business owner with interests in sharing experiences. Life is a dream with a deadline, happiness comes from making the right choices and having realistic expectations.


Confession: I have been a happy renter for more than 25 years before buying a family home and later becoming involved in property investments and developments.


I used to live in apartments or rental homes, worked in many different countries and experienced different housing standards and renting cultures. I would love to see a social and legal frame work around housing policies that supports renters and landlords alike.

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