Creating a budget is the best way to track your spending and start taking control of your finances, but even if you haven’t reached this stage yet, you can start making a difference by cutting back on non-essential spending.
Here are some tips to help you make your money go further on everyday expenses:
We can be incredibly wasteful when it comes to food, but planning ahead can help save you money and avoid so much waste.
- Plan your shop. If you don’t prepare a list, you’ll be walking around picking up whatever takes your fancy (and whatever the supermarket is marketing to you). If you stick to a list, you stand a better chance of spending what you expected.
- If you can think ahead far enough to do a meal plan for the week, even better. Panic-buying at local convenience stores will cost you more than one big weekly shop.
- If a product you regularly buy is on special offer, stock up in bulk to avoid paying the higher price next time.
- You’ll be surprised at how much you stand to save by cutting down on sweet treats like soft drinks, chocolate, lollies and cakes.
- Find a cheaper way to do things. Instead of buying individually wrapped ice creams, pick up a four-litre tub and some cones which will make your money go a lot further.
- Shop after eating – shopping on an empty stomach is proven to result in you spending more than if you do it when you’re full.
- Fruit and veg is often cheaper and fresher from markets – just don’t use so much petrol driving there that you cancel out any cost saving.
- If you’re a fan of wine, cleanskins are a great way to pick up good quality wine at a discount price. They often come from the big wineries but are kept unbranded to remove any association between them and a discounted oversupply.
- Consider shopping online, where you can stick to your list and better avoid impulse buys and marketing tactics.
Petrol is a necessity that many people just can’t do without, no matter how expensive it gets. The government is well aware of this so taxes it accordingly. You should take any opportunity you can get to cut down on petrol usage.
- Consider signing up for a car pool scheme or joining together with neighbours who work near you so you can share the ride to work.
- Look into any public transport options available. Even if it means driving to a train station, would that journey work out cheaper when you consider the cost of petrol and wear-and-tear on your car for the extra distance?
- If you’re in the market for a new car, consider a ‘greener’ model or even a hybrid. These can save you money on running costs and are often included in government-run incentive schemes.
Be honest, if you went through your wardrobe now, how many things would you find that still have the price tag on? We waste so much money on clothes, either from buying too many or buying super expensive brands. Would you rather look like you have a lot of money or actually have a lot of money?
- If labels are your thing, head to your nearest outlet store where you can pick up some designer brands with big discounts.
- If it breaks, fix it! The ‘make do and mend’ wartime mentality has just as much relevance today as it did then.
- With the ‘vintage’ trend still popular, raid your parents’ wardrobes, op shops or local garage sales instead of paying over the odds for something that’s been made to look worn out.
- Pass it on. If you have clothes or accessories which are still in perfectly good condition but just aren’t your thing, pass them on to someone else who might appreciate them. You never know, they may return the favour and you’ll end up with a whole new wardrobe for nothing.
- If you have an expensive gym membership which you rarely use, cancel it. There are lots of free ways to get exercise, such as walking, running, hiking and bike riding.
- Look online for second-hand home exercise equipment. It’s notoriously underused so you’ll probably find what you need nearly new but much cheaper.
Without wanting to turn this into a lecture… smoking is really bad for you and your finances. Every single cigarette is, quite literally, money going up in smoke.
Just to give you an idea, a 20-year-old smoker smoking a pack a day could decide to quit and put the money into an investment fund instead. Taking into account inflation and interest (assumed at 11%), if he keeps paying in the cost of a packet of cigarettes every day, by the time he reaches 60 he could have savings worth $2.9 million. By then, everything will cost about three times as much as it does now, so cigarettes will be $40 a pack and the 2.9 million will be just under 1 million in today’s money, but still… all that just from quitting an expensive and unhealthy habit.
If you can’t give up completely, at least cut back and put the money saved to good use.
Entertainment & hobbies
Having fun doesn’t have to be expensive.
- Instead of ordering takeaway pizzas, get the whole family involved with making your own.
- Spend more time enjoying nature on the beach, in the country, or at your local park or gardens.
- Organise dinner parties with your friends instead of always eating out.
- If your hobby requires expensive equipment (e.g. golf, surfing or biking), have a look at the second-hand market to see what’s available before you splash out on anything brand new.
- Try growing your own fruit, veg and herbs at home. Not only is it a good hobby but it saves you having to buy them, too.
- If you enjoy making things, see if you can sell them at local shops or online.
- Consider teaching private lessons or running a training class to make money from something you’re good at.
- This may be one of your biggest costs if you have children, so you should take full advantage of any family members offering to help out.
- Consider sharing the responsibility with your neighbours – each taking turns to look after the children – so you can get some time to yourself without paying for it.
Gifts and special occasions
We all tend to overspend when it comes to children’s birthdays and special occasions, but there are ways to make the holidays less of a stress on your purse.
- Many banks offer a Christmas Club which allows you to save a fixed amount each week in preparation for all your December spending.
- Avoid buying presents on credit or with a ‘buy now, pay next year’ deal. You’re just setting yourself up for financial failure the following year by spending money you don’t have.
- Try to hold back on buying loads of presents for young kids who won’t really appreciate them. One or two thoughtful gifts will go down just as well (as will the boxes they come in, probably).
Prepare for next year by stocking up on essentials like wrapping paper and decorations when the January sales are on.
- The internet is your friend when it comes to booking travel. Use comparison sites to make sure you’re getting the best deal on flights, accommodation and more.
- With the deals on offer you can either save some money on your booking or opt for more luxurious accommodation that’s still within your budget.
- Check the cost of booking a package vs. booking each element individually – there can sometimes be quite a difference.
- Avoid airport moneychangers who always take advantage of desperate tourists arriving in a new country. Change enough currency before you fly to at least get you to your hotel.