Start the new year with a balanced budget by making the most of these 10 money saving tips. Your wallet will thank you.
No matter how your finances are faring, knowing how to make your dollar stretch further is a handy skill. And if you’ve got a Christmas shopping hangover haunting you, there’s no better way to start the new year than with some budget balancing ideas.
10 tips for frugal living
1. Get your family and friends involved
To help you commit to cutting down costs, ask your family and friends to keep you on track. Their support and encouragement can help you on days you’re struggling – and if they decide to join in, you can all share tips and tricks learnt along the way.
2. Be a budget planner and resist spending
Work out what you’re currently spending money on, and how much you have left over once all your essentials are paid. This leftover amount – sometimes called your discretionary spend – can quickly turn into savings if you find ways to keep it in the bank.
Use your discretionary spend as a starting point to set a savings goal. It may be a dollar amount, or perhaps something you’d like to buy – a holiday, new appliances or a top up on your mortgage. Keep this goal firmly in mind whenever you hit the shops to sway your spending.
Try using a 30-day rule too – if there’s something you want to buy, make a note of it and check in 30 days to see if you’re still keen. Often you’ll find the novelty’s worn off.
3. Review your regular expenses
You can also make your savings go further by reviewing your regular commitments. Bills for things like insurance, phones, internet and club memberships can seem fixed, but checking if your needs have changed or if there’s a more competitive offer can pay off.
4. Cut down on bad habits
Wine, chocolate, coffee… we all have those little vices that get us through the day. Even if you can’t give them up, you can cut down – making those rare moments of indulgence all the more rewarding.
Try putting the coins you save from these daily dips into your wallet in a jar to see how much it adds up.
5. Save money on groceries
Create a shopping list designed to complement the items you already have in your fridge and pantry, and stick to it. Avoiding shopping on an empty stomach will help with this.
Try doubling the ingredients for your favourite recipes to give you leftovers which you can freeze and use for a second meal or a packed lunch. Buying ingredients in bulk can also help you save – especially if you choose generic label products.
6. Sell any unwanted items
We all have cupboards full of items we no longer need – whether it’s clothing, toys or furniture, you’ll find it’s surprisingly easy to sell these for a small sum on websites like eBay or Gumtree, or at your own garage sale.
You can also organise to swap unwanted goods with friends. While this won’t make you any money, it can provide you with a new wardrobe at no cost, or entertain the kids with new toys.
7. Buy secondhand
Buying new every time is a surefire way to pay top dollar. If you’ve got a specific item you need to purchase, check your local op shop, browse secondhand listings online or review your local paper’s classifieds to see if you can find a used one at a bargain price.
8. Use energy more efficiently
Did you know the average Australian home has 67 household appliances? The more you use, the more energy you’ll consume. Cutting down with some simple changes can help you save on your power bill.
9. Entertain on the cheap
Keep the kids – and yourself – entertained for free by joining your local library. In addition to books, many libraries also offer newspapers, magazines, DVDs and eBooks.
Keep an eye on your community’s activity calendar for free events, test out parks in your area and plan a movie night at home with friends for some other ways to enjoy downtime on a budget.
10. Create a reminder of your progress
Use a simple chart on your fridge or even an app on your smartphone to track your savings and keep you encouraged. It’s perfect for bragging rights – after all, you’ll have earned it.
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