As the 2017 year comes to a close I thought it would be a good time to reflect on financial decisions I made during the year to save more money and try and estimate the total money that I would have saved from those actions. I am more than happy to spend money on things that add value to my life or bring me joy, but I do not love spending my hard earned cash inefficiently.
We work so hard for our money, why don’t we find savings in the things that don’t take away from our enjoyment of life so that we can spend money of the things that do! When we find non value-adding way to reduce our spending we can allow ourselves to spend money where we like guilt free.
These are the 17 Things I Did to Save More Money in 2017. When I added the savings up just for this year they came to over $8000! I hope they will inspire you to find more ways to save in 2018!
- Shopped Around for Car Services or repairs.
When my husbands car was due for a major service within ten minutes I had retreived four quotes raging from $350 to $750. I went with the cheapest who also happened to be our regular and reliable mechanic. This can be more limited for newer cars that for extended warranty purposes need to go to the dealer service centre but for any other cars shopping around is a must if you don’t want to pay too much for your car services!
Total Savings: $400
2. Reviewed my mobile plan frequently
I started off with a sim only plan that was $49.90 a month earlier in the year that had 10GB of data included. The 10GB never seemed to be enough for my needs so I often ended up paying for additional data on top of that. As a result the bill was often more around the $70-80 mark and certainly more than I was willing to spend on my phone plan.
I wanted to get my plan back under $50 so did my research and ended up switching to a 6 month discount offer for a sim only plan offering the same inclusions for only $24.99 a month to new customers. I figured even with extra data charges, the same deal would still fall under my $50 budget whilst saving me that additional $20-30 a month I was forking out.
Once that six months discounted period was up and I was back on a $40/month 10GB plan I did my research again and have just switched to a new plan which although will be slightly less flexible (it is a 12 month contract!) it includes 15GB of data for the same price. The great news is I will no longer have to top up my data each month and pay any extra. I was also offered a 25% promotional discount on sign up so actually only pay $30 for the $40 plan.
Total Savings: $480 (Original $70 a month vs new $30 a month plan :))
3. Requested a better rate on our mortgage
I was recently talking with a friend about his plans to get a better mortgage rate and realised that it had been a little while since I had done the same. Jumping online I saw that my bank was offering new customers a 0.61% discount on the rate I was paying. I rang up the next day and requested that we get access to the advertised rate. Within a week I had approval and had signed the paperwork. This was a huge win for our budget and for us to save more money.
Extra Tip: Come prepared when you make the call. Research what other banks are offering in terms of rates and ask your bank to match their competitors!
Total Savings: Our new repayment was $27.23 lower a total saving of $1415 for the next twelve months alone. Based on keeping our original weekly repayment over the current life of our loan this could save us up to $13500 and allow us to own our house 8 months earlier! This is real money and life changing stuff!
4. Stopped spending creep and saved our raises
My husband and I have had the same weekly allowance since we started budgeting six years ago after moving into our first home. We made it a fair figure to us so that we could live within it without feeling like we were too restricted day to day. With any pay raises, bonuses or anything else we receive we do not just absorb those into our lifestyles (know as bracket creep) and increase our spending. We try to be intentional with anything extra we earn so that it is not wasted. When we get extra money it goes to our savings or straight onto our mortgage. If you want to save more money don’t absorb your future raises, put them away and watch them grow 🙂
Total Saved: A wage increase of $20 per week saved and not spent can increase your savings balance by $1000 over a year.
5. Reviewed our electricity and gas plans
Once a year I like to review our electricity and gas plan and see what deals they are offering new customers. After researching online and checking our latest bill, I realised we were not receiving the full discounts we could be. With a short fifteen minute call we went from a plan with an outdated discount of 16% on our Electricity and 10% on Gas usage to a current advertised discount on Electricity of 23% and Gas 17%. A bonus was that we got a $50 credit on our next gas and electricity bill for signing onto new plans. If you are not checking your utility plans annually you are going to find that you are on an outdated offer that is probably costing you more. Check it annually to the competition and their new customer rates.
Total Savings: $30/quarter on electricity and $11/ quarter on gas plus $50 credit Total savings $214
6. Limited our electricity consumption
Don’t stop the electricity and gas savings there, there are ways to save more money on your bills to put back into your pocket! After getting a few too many $500 a quarter electricity bills we decided we needed to make more of an effort so cut down out power use. We made sure that we used only the appropriate amount of lighting e.g. turning on one down light instead of the other power point that turned on six lights when we didn’t need that much lighting. We started turning off our TV each night and turning off our PC monitors and power. I set the air conditioner at 22 degrees on hot days rather than 18 (much to my husbands disapproval :p) and only used fans at night.
I downloaded our electricity providers app and started monitoring the week to week electricity use and savings. Within the first few weeks I noticed them drop by about $7 a week. Not bad! Not to mention when you can see your impending bill estimate it is a great motivator to turn off those power points!
Total Savings: $364
7. Got smarter with our herbs and fresh produce
As a huge Basil fan, I got sick of buying new Basil bunches week to week only to have them go bad within a handful of days. I was determined to find a way to keep them fresher for longer. Since then I have been buying the Basil plants from Aldi which sit on our windowsill, and seem to last weeks with a small amount of care. I also researched the correct way to store different foods to extend their shelf life which helped us reduce our food waste and the cost of replacing spoiled food so often.
Total Savings: Let’s guesstimate on the lower side of things, a saving of $10 a week in reduced food waste at $520 a year!
8. Switched to high interest savings accounts
After reading the Barefoot investor, I realised how silly we had been leaving any number of dollars in our bank account that was paying a whole 0.01% on balances, a.k.a. nothing! After a small amount of effort we made the switch to Scott Pape’s favourite ING’s Savings Maximser which currently gives us 2.8% on any balances in our account which is a hell of a lot more than the big fat nothing we were previously getting! Nothing to motivate you to save more money then someone paying you to do it 🙂
Total Savings – $2000 Emergency Savings Fund will now be earning $56 a year in interest. Doesn’t sound like much but the more your balance grows the more your interest will add up!
9. We stopped buying as many clothes
After adopting a capsule wardrobe I found the need to hit the shops for new clothes greatly diminished. After all, I had a perfectly functional wardrobe ready to go day to day. The only time we bought new clothing or shoes this past year is when we needed specific items. Knowing what we had in our wardrobe and only keeping what we loved really helped us to limit any desire to go out and spend a ton of money on a new wardrobe.
Bonus tip is to resist buying a new outfit for each event and to ask friends or family if they have something you could borrow for the night. Return the favour the next time they need a fresh outfit.
Total Savings: Who knows but over the long terms I am going to say lots! 🙂
10. Started having dessert at home
I am a dessert girl at heart but spending $20-30 on dessert on our weekly date night was not really value for money in my eyes. Of course a girl needs her dessert on occasions so we started having our desserts at home. Instead of going out to Max Brenner or San Churro, or ordering dessert with dinner twice a month we started to make our own dessert at home. Desserts like home made scones, waffles with strawberries and ice cream are a fraction of the price at home. If we were not going home we were happy to grab a coffee or ice cream at the movies. Rather than spending $25 or $30 or dessert each time we were only spending $10 or less!
Total Savings: Opting in for dessert at home twice a month total saving $360 over a year
11. Found more creative ways to have fun
Saving money doesn’t mean missing out on fun. We just got a little more creative. Some nights we were more than happy to go home and watch Netflix rather than paying $40 to see a movie. When we did see movies we got discounted tickets which saved us 50% on the ticket price. We tried to go at times that the discount was valid where we could. On weekends if it was a beautiful day we would go for a walk or drive up the mountains. If the weather was crappy we’d crack out the Nintendo 64 and have Mario Kart Battles. Check out these Fun Frugal Ideas for more ideas on how you can have fun whilst you save more money.
Total Savings: Again a tough one to calculate, let’s guesstimate one night a month and $360 for the year!
12. Cut back spending on beverages
Coffee, beers, wine, hot chocolates they all add up to more than you would expect over the year. But making small sacrifices we were able to save more. Some ways we saved this year was by having hot chocolates at home. I buy Jarrah White Chocolate 10 packs which set me back less than $1 a cup! My husband chose quality over quantity and opted for drinking his favourite beers less often as a treat over cheaper beers more often. We also bought coffee for him to have at home to take with him on the go of a morning to skip the $4.50 or more morning coffee (I don’t drink coffee so that’s a big $0 for me ;)). So far we haven’t found one that stands up to his store bought versions but hopefully we’ll find a pro one in the near future! Coffee drinkers you could be throwing away $1170 on your morning coffee per person. We are working on that one 😉
We also cut back on our $8 fortnightly 24 water bottle pack and instead invested $12 in two water bottles and haven’t looked back.
Total Savings: Hot chocolate savings $150 and water savings $208
13. Started online grocery shopping
This was something that we adopted not necessarily to save money but to save time and make life a little easier. A great bonus of this decision was that we were buying less. When you are shopping online you aren’t walking past the sale ends or easy to grab, ever so tempting confectionery at the checkouts. When shopping online, the only way you will see those heavily discounted items are if you are specifically searching for them unlike in store where you’d be hard pressed to avoid making eye contact! We certainly don’t do this always, it takes some forethought but is a great way to help you reduce your impulse buying!
Total Savings: Complete random estimate let’s go with $10 a week and $520 for the whole year. Hopefully it is actually more 🙂
14. Got organised
This one would have to be one of the biggest food saving methods in our budget for 2017. Through my decluttering journey I realised how much food we had been buying unnecessarily. At one point I found 8 cans of corn for two people, of which one of us does not like corn and the other one barely eats it. Go figure. We had kilos of flour, daily reminders that we had to find a way to use them up before they expired. All brought on from shopping on the go and not checking what we had in our pantry, fridge and freezer before we hit the shops! This was a huge realisation for our budget. We were shopping with no real plan and with little clue of what we already had to start with.
For a new aspiring minimalist the endless cans and boxes of stuff were starting to bother me, not to mention my knew found goals of reducing our household waste. We decided to get ourselves organised and got to work re-organising the pantry, fridge and freezer. Now that we could tell with a quick glance how many items of food we had we knew what we could buy and what we didn’t need within seconds. The cans were all lined up in a row on tiered shelves waiting for us to come and quickly check on shopping day. We also keep a shopping list on our fridge to write down groceries as they run out so we knew what needed to be replaced. This means that we only buy what we have used and need, anything else that sits in our pantry will end up getting eliminated from our shopping list in time.
Total Savings: This was a budget saving biggie! I am going to guess this alone has saves us $1000 over the year.
Related Post: How an Organised Space Can Save You Money
15. We limited buying toiletries and other consumables
When I started on my minimalism journey I realised the waste that had occured in this area of our budget alone. We had about 10 bottles of shampoo and conditioner, about 8 cans of insect spray, a life time supply of air freshener, random and unfinished cleaning products, sponges galore – you get the idea! It was too much and completely unnecessary. Not only was it taking up space, cluttering our cupboards (clutter, ew!) but we were wasting money buying products that we didn’t need and couldn’t possibly use up in a timely manner.
It took over a year to use up our excess supply of deodorants, hand creams, body washes, soap you name it. It seemed never ending and really opened my eyes to the fact that you don’t need to buy so much of that stuff in bulk. We now only buy things as they need replacing and if something is on sale we will just get a spare 1 or 2 max, rather than buying 10 bottles. We also just stuck to the brands we loved. By only buying what we needed, we were able to spend on quality products and things that added value to our lives. Remember that saying quality over quality, we definitely found that to be the case.
Total Savings: My sanity!
16. Cut back on buying make up
Now I have given this one it’s one section as this tip alone has the potential to be a huge budget saver! The old me would buy eyeshadow pallet after eyeshadow pallet, have 4-5 foundation bottles and 15 odd lipsticks. I would browse my local Price Line walking out with what I thought was the nicest shade of purple nail polish only to find I already had three similar shades at home. Not to mention that I never even paint my nails. Wrong! At one point I have four bottles of foundation open which was pretty ridiculous for a girl that only wore it to work or the odd outing.
Once I did my research I realised how wasteful this habit was. I was buying too much, more than I could possibly use up before the expiry dates. And yes make up expires! Most last 12-18 months which was truly eye opening experience! As with my groceries I now only replace my make up products as they run out. It is very rare that I will buy anything new that I don’t need as I no longer look at make up stores or aisles unless I am there to buy something I need to replace.
Total Savings: Not shopping for make up multiple times a month has saved me at least $240 a year!
17. I sold my stuff on eBay
My first eBay listing was a 4 pack of hair dye that I have bought and realised I was never going to use. I listed it for $10 as an experiment (I paid $20 for them so would have been chuffed to claw back half). They ended up selling for $27 and from that moment I was hooked on finding things to sell around my home. I continued to chuck items up on eBay items for the next one and a half years making $965 back alone in 2017 for selling items around my home that I no longer needed! If you haven’t tried selling your unwanted stuff on EBay, CraigsList, Gumtree etc you might be missing out on some serious cash and serious motivation to declutter 😉
Total Savings: $965
Total estimated minimum savings in 2017 $8252
What tips do you have to save more money that you have tried in 2017? Please share them in the comments below 🙂