With so much good stuff to spend your hard earned money on, let’s see how we can save more for that special purchase by reducing unnecessary spending.
If you are serious about saving money, the first things you can usually look to change are your day-to-day habits.
Here are some simple common sense ways to reduce your unnecessary spending.
- Create a budget and stick to it. Keep a detailed record of what you earn, spend and save each week or month. Aim to increase savings, reduce debt and build some savings. Be honest, precise and detailed. How many coffees, how many nights out, how many pairs of shoes on the credit card?
- Have a no spend day. Challenge yourself to spend nothing for the day at least once if not twice, a week. Just because we have money in our pockets we think we have to spend it. We think nothing of buying cups of coffee, a can of coke, bar of chocolate, packet of chewing gum, etc etc. The average person spends around $40 a week on the above - that’s around $2,000 a year! It’s actually kind of fun, and really not that hard.
- Give up a vice (at least for a while). Everyone knows smoking and alcohol can have adverse health effects. One argument that rarely comes up is how much it costs to maintain these habits. The money you save from quitting these vices can total to much more than $100 a week. They aren't the sole bad habits that can cost you either. Speeding and overeating also add up to higher fuel and grocery bills, not to mention traffic fines. Practicing a little self-control can get you your financial goals a lot sooner than you think!
- Give yourself a weekly allowance in cash to pay for incidentals and stick to it. When the money is gone - it's gone.
- Learn to say “no”. Yes – No! Especially to your children. They don’t really need a toy or Coke every time you stop at a service station. You know what we are talking about…
- Bring in your lunch to work. An average take away lunch costs around $8. Multiply thus by 5 days a week by say 40 weeks. That’s a HUGE $1,600 for the year, enough for a great overseas trip.
- Stick with your own bank’s ATM when withdrawing or checking balances, to avoid being charged a totally unnecessary fee.
- Avoid late fees - pay your bills on time! Paying late fees is like throwing money away, seriously.
- Have a money box to put your change in. Emptying your change into a money box every day can calculate to a lot after a year, for change you won't miss each day.
- Do you need a home phone (land line)? These days there are plenty of alternatives, with the plethora of cheap mobile plans, free (or near free) on-line communication tools, and internet connection that no longer relies on the land line. Below are some suggestions:
Skype. Completely free. Now available on iPhone including video call.
Voipcheap. This on-line communication service offers unbeatable prices. And you don’t even need to call a computer. You can call land lines around the world free for 90 days. Paid calls start from 0.01 – 0.02 Euro cent per minute. To call any mobile around the world cost only 0.13 - 0.15 Euro cent per minute. Amazing!
Calling cards. If you're calling overseas regularly there are many phone cards available with carriers which offer extremely cheap rates. Taking advantage of these cheap rates can save you hundreds of dollars over a year. A really good website to look at when shopping for calling cards is shoppersstop.com.au You can do a search there based on which country you are calling the most and compare prices.
And then of course there the iPhone, with its many free communication tools, such as Viber, HeyTell, WhatsApp and many more.
AROUND THE HOUSE
- Adopt a firm 'I can do it myself' attitude around the house, especially with small repairs like replacing a tap washer or mowing a lawn. You can save a fortune on tradesmen.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFLs) globes. Installing energy saving light globes does actually save you more than you realise, they in fact use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer. They do take some getting used to, and they won’t work in every light fixture. But use them where it makes sense and save money.
- Turn off all electrical appliances at the power point when not using them to save money on the electricity bill.
- Did you know that you can save up to 20% of your energy costs by having full length curtains/blinds and padded pelmets? Well, now you do. So keep your blinds and closed. Save energy by keeping the warmth in or the sun out.
- Use timers for your lights. You’ll never forget about turning off your lights in the day or late at night again.
- Install dimmer switches in your house and only have your lights as bright as you need them, this reduces your electricity bills.
- Run your washing machine and dishwasher when they are full. Select cold option on your washing machine whenever possible.
- Use the clothes dryer only when absolutely necessary. Clothes are best dried on the clothes line outside or portable clothes drying racks inside during bad weather.
- Clean your dryer filter after each use for energy efficiency.
- Challenge your energy and gas supplier. Sometimes you may not be aware that your current energy and gas supplier is more expensive than others. Shop around and check it out.
- And here is a shocking revelation for you: you can actually use 1/3 less of dishwashing and laundry detergent. The portion size of the scoops in laundry detergents is simply too much - you'll be amazed just how far 2/3 of the suggested amount will go.
SUPER SAVING TIPS FOR SUPER SERIOUS SAVERS – Coming Soon
OUT and ABOUT
- When eating out skip the entree, share a desert and limit the number of drinks (also the veggie option is often cheaper and usually healthier too!). Check for cheap deals, early bird specials - there’s lots of value to be had. And of course take advantage of Daily Deal and Group Buying Site restaurant deals!
- Meet a friend for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner. Dinner is always the most expensive meal if you're eating out.
- Stay at home one night this weekend. Pull out a puzzle, a board game, a book, or a DVD and some popcorn.
- Do free stuff. Join your local library, get out and walk, join free activities in your city or suburb. It’s FREE! And it’s FUN.
Utilize shopping rewards programs and use loyalty cards. If you shop at a certain store regularly, then why not rack up some points buying your everyday items from Coles, Woolworths or Franklins, among other stores? If you buy a coffee most days, why not let them stamp your loyalty card? These points and stamps eventually add up to enough to get you a reward that you don’t have to pay for. Basically, it's something for nothing. Be careful to only buy items you would normally buy regardless, otherwise you are spending MORE than you would usually spend to get the loyalty points, which is false economy.
- Then of course there are frequent flyer points programs that practically every financial institution offers these days, not to mention airline companies, If you are a more or less frequent traveler, it makes a lot of sense to be part of the program. Many people we know enjoyed overseas trips courtesy of frequent flyer programs. Keep in mind though, if you haven’t done this before, airlines will charge other fees, on top of the points that you use. Sometimes these fees are rather hefty. For example, a “free” return flight to Europe will cost you over $600. So don’t be shocked. Still, it’s a lot cheaper than the actual airfare.
ENTERTAINMENT BOOK AND HOW IT CAN HELP YOU – Coming Soon
This is the big one! Grocery shopping is a task that all of us encounter at some stage, yet despite being a regular event, many of us still don’t get the hang of how to grocery shop in a way that’s optimum for our bank accounts. Here are some tips to help you get smart at the grocery store.
Plan your meals at the start of the week, make a shopping list – AND STICK TO IT! (we all know not to shop on an empty stomach right?). Planning exactly what meals you’re going to have will mean knowing exactly what you’ll need to purchase; this will cut down impulse buys drastically, and also reduce the number of times you’ll need to go to the shop.
Speaking of Shopping Lists: once you’ve written it - stick to it. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Going to the supermarket for a loaf of bread and coming out with 3 bags and $50 less in your wallet? No more aimless wandering in the supermarket aisles for things you don’t need!
To avoid ending up with 3 bags of carrots, before you leave the house to go grocery shopping, do a “once over” of your kitchen cupboards/fridge/freezer and check what items are there. This will save you doubling up on items you forgot you already had and wasting money.
Check the use-by-date of any perishable items, like milk. If you found that you didn’t use it that much last time, buy a smaller quantity next time. This will save money and wastage.
This one is for the advance savers (don’t be scared): Shop for your groceries each calendar month (not weekly), and never go shopping until the exact day arrives (for example, plan to shop on the 30th day of each month). You would be surprised at how creative and resourceful you can become. Instead of going shopping to buy individual items, substitute things that you don't have in the pantry with something that you do. Learn to improvise! It's amazing what you can come up with to 'stretch out' the time until shopping day arrives. When it comes, only buy what you need and never exceed your budget. If you go under budget, reward the family (or yourself) with either savings or buying something special (that you need of course). There is a challenge for you!
When you go grocery shopping take cash only, and leave your EFTPOS or credit cards at home. It will limit the amount you can spend and get you thinking more critically about what items you really need (unless of course you are earning your precious loyalty points with your credit card. In that case use it, but be really really disciplined).
- Buy items with a relatively long shelf life in bulk - rice, pasta or a large block of longer-lasting cheeses like cheddar are good examples. Only buy in bulk items that you know you or your family will consume.
Beware of product positioning in supermarkets and “Special” signs! Recently a well-known brand of paper towel was advertised on special in a supermarket that shall remain nameless weekly advertising brochure for $1.00 a single roll. At the front of the supermarket was a large display with a 'Special' sign, with the same brand of paper towel in packs of two for $3.33 (a whopping 66% higher than the price per roll!) The advertised special was located in the usual aisle, above eye level, with only a small 'Special' ticket attached to the shelf. Don’t assume anything and don’t get caught out.
Take advantage of “price per kilo” or “price per item” signs. Have you noticed them? You will find this information at the bottom of most product signs on a supermarket shelf. Use it. It will help you to quickly work out which product is the better value when comparing different sized packaging. Example: How do you know what is better value: 8 toilet rolls at $4.99 or 6 toilet rolls at $3.99. I was a pretty bright student at school, but this math is beyond me when standing in a middle of the supermarket isle. So, the answer is: 8 toilet rolls at $4.99 (62 cents each) whereas 6 toilet rolls at $3.99 work out at 66.5 cents each. Those little ‘cents per item signs would have helped you there. Once you get used to looking at them it becomes second nature.
Big question these days is: when to shop? With most supermarkets open until late, many shoppers take advantage of mark downs that take place in the afternoon and evenings. It is possible to pick up meat, bread, cooked chickens and other items at drastically reduced prices. Supermarkets that have their own bakeries normally mark down their remaining fresh bread, rolls and sweets in late afternoon and evening, so stop by and check it out on your way from work. Saturday night is the absolutely best time to shop for meat (that is if you don’t have something more exciting to do, or you love supermarket shopping this much). But seriously on Saturday nights you can pick up meat at much reduced prices. It varies from suburb to suburb, from supermarket to supermarket of course. So experiment with different times at your local store and you will come up with the best options.
Speaking of meat - meat is usually the most expensive item on the shopping list. A couple of ways to deal with meat are: buy your favourite meat whenever you see it on sale, freeze it in portions and use it to plan your meals. Or if you have the time and the inclination, head out early to a market and bulk-buy meat. Again, freeze it in portions (but don’t buy more than you’ll realistically use)!
Buy your fruits and veggies at the markets if you can. Especially just before closing time, when there are normally big discounts on offer. You can get a few friends together into a sort of a co-operative and buy in bulk.
Learn to love your freezer! Get some cheap takeaway containers and each weekend make up a batch of something and freeze into single portions. You will soon enough have a stock pile of foods so you can alternate meals for weeks. Think of meals that can be extended with sides of rice or pasta such as chilli con-carne with extra kidney beans and beef stroganoff with extra mushrooms.
Keep your eye out for weekly flyers or catalogues from your local grocery store; it will alert you of the best discounts and offers at the time.
NON-MAINSTREAM GROCERY SHOPPING– Coming Soon
And of course remember to check out Value Spotters Lets Go Shopping > Grocery section for the latest supermarket and on-line specials.
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