Ok, I can hear you groaning, and it’s hardly a light bulb moment, but have you really thought about it? Really, really tried to spend less? Unless you’re all over your budget and manage it well, it’s hardly likely. So before you get overwhelmed, throw your hands in the air and admit defeat…
Work out why you want to save in the first place? Is it to reduce debt? Go on a holiday? Save for a wedding? Keep the goal as your focus! Put up a great big pic of why you want to do this!! It’ll keep you motivated, with your eye on the prize!
Then, just break it down into a manageable format. We’ll start with what used to be our basic needs: Food, Shelter, Clothing.
What are the biggest areas you can save in?
GROCERIES/FOOD: Ok, this is a big one! Do you shop daily or a few times a week, or just do one big shop every week or two? Neither are wrong, but do you know what you’re actually spending on food, including those top-up shops? Lunches? Coffees? Dining out?
It’s worth keeping a shoebox or spike handy for a month and just throwing all your receipts in so you get a good idea of how much you’re spending. Chances are you’ll be surprised, and can cut down. Maybe even skip a week of groceries – put the money towards reducing debt or go towards the goal, and start using up all that ‘stuff’ in the pantry and freezer that’s been just sitting there.
There’s plenty of websites now that can help you turn a couple of grocery items into a meal. Packing lunches definitely helps you save, and even just reducing the number of bought coffees can pack a punch. Throw the savings into an old fashioned piggy bank for a month and see what you come up with! Will that help you in attaining your goal?
Can you take advantage of savings at the end of the day as supermarkets do their biggest markdowns before the doors close? Is it worth visiting the local farmers markets on a weekend – sometimes they’re dearer, sometimes not!
It may be worth setting yourself a weekly limit that you’re no longer prepared to go over whilst you get on top of things. As an example: Get out $100 cash for a single, more for a couple or family. When the funds run out – so do you! Can you use up what you have left in the fridge? How will you manage? Time to invite yourself over to mum’s for a dinner? Or will you keep the baked beans on toast as a last resort? Give it a week and see how you go.
Some have found getting a few friends together, doing batch cooking and swapping meals can provide great variety and lessen your workload. If you’re the spaghetti master, swap a couple of serves with your friend who does the best chicken casserole ever… You might just find all sorts of inventive ways to stay well fed!
If you’re a shocking impulse buyer, try on-line shopping. Search by ‘Unit Price’ to see what the best deal is… It takes the guesswork out for you. There’s no temptation then. Stick to your list and try and schedule delivery for a fee free day.
HOUSING: Usually our accommodation costs are the highest. So, can you look for a cheaper place to rent? Can you ask your bank for a lower interest rate on the Mortgage? Is it worth refinancing? We’re at record lows for interest rates, so take advantage of it!
Maybe the costs of moving would outweigh small savings, so make sure you give it a good investigation. Can you rent out a spare room to a mate or student to assist with costs? Even for a year or two? Every bit can help you move forward!
CLOTHING: Ok, I’ve got an overflowing wardrobe, and around 60 pairs of shoes, so maybe I’m not the best one to tackle this… but you know what, I’ve also got pretty much everything I need (and then some.)
I’ve been told ‘You can only wear one pair of shoes at a time’ (much to my disgust and despair) and only one outfit. So, go through your wardrobe. If you haven’t worn it for a year, chances are you probably won’t again. Can you sell it off on Ebay? Get some stuff cleaned out at a Garage Sale or even give it to an Op Shop or friend in need.
Most of us have way more than we need and can put off new purchases – especially if the whole motivation is ‘it’s on special.’ Walk away, and think for 24 hours at least. If you still desperately ‘need it’ then maybe you do. Otherwise, is your goal more important? What’s the focus? If it was worth $60 – can that amount get transferred to the goal instead?
Ok, that’s only three areas, but you get the idea. Are utility bills killing you? Can you swap around providers? Try some comparison websites. Shop around for phone contracts, credit card providers, electricity and gas options. For big purchases, it is cheaper on Ebay? Can you get away with second hand?
Always keep why you’re doing this in focus? If the end goal is bigger than your immediate need, you’ll find out lots more ways to be frugal. And there’s heaps of other people on the same journey. Type in savings websites and see how many you come up with. You don’t need to be a genius. The tips are already out there… just go find them!
Let us know if you’ve also come up with some other nifty savings ideas. We’d love to hear from you!
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