By Skye Mallac
R. A. Dalkey explores savvy saving ideas that don’t cost the earth
Picture this: you’re a working-class individual with no inheritance to your name, COVID-19 has just hit, the world is rolling into a collective lockdown, the economy is crashing – and you have a five figure balance sitting in your savings account. It sounds like an unlikely dream, doesn’t it? But that’s pretty much the position R. A. Dalkey found himself in a year ago, and he’s here to share just how you can do this too.
Put in brief, R. A. Dalkey’s How To Save A Small Fortune – And The Planet is cursory, yet thorough, exploration of our spending habits and just how we can reign them in – with the added bonus of doing some good for the planet at large. This book is about the raw financial benefits of responsible behaviour, and since the economy inevitably makes the world go round, money can be a driving factor for just about anything – including your own positive environmental impact.
The slim volume, which won’t take you more than an afternoon to read, unpacks both the small luxuries and supposed necessities we can realistically begin to go without. It is not so much about putting money aside in an investment, this book is about cutting right back on our spending, and building a belief that saving itself equals additional income.
Engaging and conversational in tone, R. A. Dalkey lays out method after thrifty method, which covers everything from your food consumption to your chosen insurance, from child-rearing to upcycling.
Not every practice applies to everyone and he’s quick to acknowledge it. There’s nothing pretentious about his advice, other than the fact that it’s predominantly directed at the upper-income bracket working class of developed countries.
Nevertheless, from a grass-roots level there are still plenty of tips to put into practice. Prioritise free things, ditch the gym membership and take a hike, opt for tap water, buy second hand. He has a way of reminding you of the obvious – because that’s what most of these tips are – with encouragement and deadpan honesty. When they add up you realise just how worthwhile this ‘thrift’ can have on your savings account.
The sustainable benefits (aka the saving the planet bit), while valuable, feel more like an afterthought, though. While making clear from the outset the natural link between saving money and contributing positively to the environment – considering the fact that consumer culture is one of humanity’s greatest flaws – Dalkey’s environmental bonus points, which usually come after an inspiring tally of numbers on your potential savings, are weak and a little watered-down. It’s nothing you haven’t already been bombarded with on your own increasingly sustainable social media feed. And while yes, cutting back on your morning coffee run will save you both €3 daily as well as a stack of non-recyclable cups heading for landfill, the pointers do seem slightly outdated.
That being said; within the scope of saving money, prepare to have your spending habits thoroughly examined at the close of this book – by your very own self, no less.
You might find yourself shocked at just how much you could be saving simply from cutting out that weekly coffee catch-up with a friend and taking a walk instead. Dalkey is sitting pretty comfortably from doing just that – you could be too.