1. Have a written budget
Really – the easiest way to cut your costs is to know where you are spending your money. Having a written budget and tracking your expenses to ensure that it’s accurate is half the budgetary battle. Here’s some tips on writing a budget.
2. Get your partner on board
If you have a partner then making sure that you’re both communicating and agreeing about your financial priorities is important.
3. Reduce your vices
Do you smoke? Drink? Have an addiction to coffee? Whatever your vice, make a conscious effort to cut back. Healthy and wealthy – a double benefit!
4. Learn how to cope with stress without spending
Buying things can be an easy way to relieve stress, but it’s not always good for your wallet or your mental state. Find a healthy and sustainable way to relieve stress and both your mind and your wallet will thank you.
5. Say no and don’t feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing
Don’t feel pressured by friends, kids or colleagues into spending money you don’t have. It’s okay to say “no” now and then!
6. Stick to one shop a week
Doing one large shop rather than several small ones cuts down on impulse buys, takeaway and wastage. Plan ahead and write a weekly meal menu so you can get all ingredients you need at once.
7. Make use of leftovers
Cook larger portions of your meals and freeze them to use as leftovers. Pizzas, bolognaise sauce, curries, lasagne and soup all freeze well and can also be handy lunch options. Try these BBQ recipes or these microwave recipes.
8. Use a shopping list app
It’s easy to keep a running shopping list on your smartphone. Shopshop is one example of an easy-to-use shopping list.
9. Use your own coffee machine
According to a businesses.com.au article, the cost per cup from an office coffee machine lies between $0.40 and $0.60. If you compare this to the average price of a cup of café brewed coffee in Australia, which is currently between $3.50-$4.00 per cup, there are definitely savings to be had by brewing coffee at home.
10. Taking a cut lunch to work
Packing your own lunch or snacks a few times a week could save you a whole lot of cash. You will also be more inclined to make healthier choices when you prepare your own lunch and could cut back on your calorie intake.
11. Make school lunches at home
If you have children, making school lunches at home rather than using the tuckshop could save hundreds of dollars and give you more control over what your child is eating.
12. Bottle your own water
There’s something satisfying about bottled water, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy a new bottle every day. Buy the bottle and then subsequently refill it from a tap or water cooler.
13. Eat more vegetables
When it comes to meat versus veggies, the latter is cheaper and also nutritionally dense. We’re not saying go vegetarian, but eating less meat and more vegetables could help out your weekly budget.
14. Drink more water
Drinking water is much cheaper than buying soft drink, juice, coffee, or alcohol – and it’s also better for you. That’s a win/win.
15. Frozen veggies
Frozen veggies can be cheaper than their fresh counterparts and if stored correctly can have a long shelf life. Contrary to popular belief, they are also just as nutritious as fresh vegetables, according to the Dietitians Association of Australia.
16. Go grocery shopping on a full stomach
Studies show that hunger may cause you to buy extra or unnecessary items while doing your weekly grocery shop. Save money by eating beforehand.
17. Pay your bills on time – avoid late fees and grab a discount
Paying your bills on time is a great way to keep your credit record clean. If you struggle with your bills, consider setting up a regular repayment amount to even out the cashflow. Some energy providers will also offer a discount to customers who pay on time.
18. Monitor your bank balance
To avoid paying overdrawn fees, ensure that the interest rate is correct and that you have not been charged for purchases you didn’t make.
19. Check how much interest you are paying on your credit card
If you owe money on your credit card, check what interest rate you are paying. Credit card interest rates can vary from less than 10% to more than 22%.
20. Phone your bank and ask for a discount on your mortgage interest rate
Even a small discount could save thousands over the life of your loan – and there is currently more than a 2.5% difference between highest and lowest variable home loan rates on Canstar’s database.
21. Audit your bank accounts to see if you are not paying fees
If you are, there are plenty of fee-free options available.
Compare low monthly fee transaction accounts below with links to the providers’ website. Table results are sorted by monthly fee (lowest – highest) then by alphabetical order (A-Z) for low transactor profile (average of 10 transaction per month) in NSW.
22. Shop around for your car insurance
23. Review your health insurance
Health insurancecan be another great place to make savings. Canstar researched and rated 21 health insurance providers in 2017.
24. Review your personal insurance
Review your personal insurance including your life, total and permanent disability, trauma and income protection insurance. Some of them can be paid via your superannuation fund (or maybe you have a double-up?) – is it a practical option for your needs?
25. Review your superannuation fund
A small difference in fees and/or return can make a big difference to your retirement nest egg.
26. Do a stocktake of your wardrobe
You may be surprised how many clothes you already have – and update with new accessories rather than new outfits.
27. Sell pre-loved items online
This could help fund new essential purchases. Alternatively, spring clean your home and have a garage sale.
28. Update your telecommunications contracts
There are hundreds of different phone plans. Review yours periodically to ensure that it’s cost effective.
29. Cheaper ways to connect internationally
Instead of paying a hefty phone bill for those overseas calls, use an app on your phone or desktop while connected to WiFi and save. There are many apps on the market to choose from, with some providing texting and call options including video functionality.
30. Review your electricity and gas options
Being on the wrong plan could be costing you. Also, consider making small changes such as washing your laundry in cold water.
31. Install energy-efficient light bulbs
Changing out your old light bulbs for LED bulbs can save you a fair amount of money over the course of the year. They’re more efficient, don’t heat up, and can last for decades.
32. Choose energy-efficient appliances
Another note about those appliances we mentioned earlier; when it does come to buying a new one, consider its energy efficiency. This could save you money on your electricity bill.
33. Keep things in working order
Keeping your appliances and your car in working order can help you save on regular repairs, and will prolong their use. For example, regularly checking your oil can protect your engine from damage and improve on your mileage.
34. Spend time outdoors
If you’re feeling bored consider taking a walk outside and enjoying the sunshine. Spending time outside can help you save on electricity costs associated with using your appliances (e.g. television), and having the lights switched on.
35. Make your own greeting card
Buying greeting cards at the shops can cost you generally between $3-$10 per card, sometimes even more. Save on the cost and make your own card with paper and pen, or use a free online template and print at home.
36. Wash your own car
Washing your own car can save around $45 – or more – each time. It is also a handy way to get in some exercise and lap up the sunshine.
37. Catch a bus
If possible, try to take public transport as much as possible. It can work out much cheaper than driving and it’ll significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
38. Check your tyres
For every two PSI under recommended level in your tyres your car is 1% less fuel efficient. Keep your tyres pumped up and save money on petrol. Also empty out your car. If you’ve got lots of heavy stuff in your boot, get it outta there ASAP. The heavier your car the more petrol it needs to move, making it less fuel efficient.
39. Clean your car’s air filter
If your air filter is dirty and clogged, cleaning it can improve your car’s performance and fuel efficiency by up to 10%, which could save you money on petrol.
40. Avoid streaming on your phone
Streaming music or video from your preferred service can eat into your phone’s data and potentially cost a lot in download costs (depending on your plan). Consider downloading your favourite tracks, podcast, audio books or any other files to your phone while connected to WiFi.
41. Car pool when you can
If you are going to the same destination, get your friends or family together and car pool.
42. Organise your receipts
File your receipts to maximise your tax deductions for each financial year.
43. Use a transport pass
Many major cities around the country now offer transport passes (such as myki, Opal, go card), which offer discounted travel compared to paper tickets. For example, in Brisbane, travel in one zone using a go card would cost $3.25, whereas a paper ticket would cost $4.70. Even if you only travel on public transport now and a gain, it could pay to have a card.
44. Secret Santa for Christmas
Instead of buying each family member or friend an individual Christmas gift, suggest doing Secret Santa so you only need to buy a present, or presents, for one person. It will save you money and time and still means everyone receives a gift.
45. Track down your lost super
One in three working Australians have lost track of some of their superannuation, to the tune of around $18 billion. Track down your lost super to potentially increase your retirement nest egg by thousands of dollars.
46. Track down lost money in bank accounts
You may also have lost money sitting in bank accounts, company shares or life insurance policies. You can search for unclaimed money on ASIC’s consumer website.
47. Check your calendar to save money on gifts
Planning ahead can save money on those last-minute gift purchases. It can also give you the time to find sales and specials and to buy in bulk.
48. Check your family is registered for Medicare Safety Net
If eligible, ensure that you and your partner are registered as a family for the Medicare safety net, rather than as two individuals. This will lower your Medicare safety net threshold.
49. Cancel memberships you don’t use
If you’ve got a gym membership, sports club membership, or something similar that you’re paying for but not using, look into cancelling it ASAP. You could be throwing money away.
50. Delete credit card numbers from PayPal
If you use an online payment service like PayPal, delete your stored credit card numbers from your account. That means when you want to buy something you’ll have to get out your credit card and re-enter your details, and that may give you enough time to reconsider your purchase.
51. Buy second hand
Buying used items online or at a store can save you money and can sometimes be the same quality as buying brand new. For university students, consider looking at your institution’s secondhand bookshop to find the textbooks you need.
52. Fix it yourself
Some items in your home should be fixed by a professional for safety reasons (e.g. anything electrical), but some tasks you may be able to do yourself. There are plenty of online tutorials and videos you can use to step you through the process.
53. Start a coin jar
Throwing your silver and gold into a (non-opening) coin jar each day can build up very quickly.
If you hardly carry cash around, consider a high interest savings account instead. The table below features savings accounts sorted by total interest rates (highest to lowest). Results are generated for Regular Saver profile in NSW with current savings of $10,000.
54. Use your local library
Books, ebooks, magazines and DVDs are all available for free to enjoy at libraries across the country. If you want to borrow these items and take them home you’ll need to visit your local library and show proof of your current address and photo ID to get a library card.
55. Before impulse buying, calculate the value in hours of work
If all else fails and you love impulse buying, calculate how many hours of work it takes to earn the purchase price of an unnecessary item you’re considering. It’s an easy way to sort the impulse buys from the real wants!