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Budgeting

11 Everyday Tips to Help You Save Money

Sometimes finding ways to save money can seem too hard and an impossibility. You research tips and  think to yourself how is saving $12 a month on bank fees or a few dollars on a coffee really going to have any impact on my savings? How will that help me get on top of my debt or save for a holiday? It may all seems like too much effort with limited results but it is important to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Savings can be found anywhere you spend your money. In order to find them you need to look at where you currently spend your money and get creative about ways to reduce those expenditures. Often it could be as simple as a phone call to ask for a better deal or taking ten minutes to research something a little bit more before hitting the buy button. Becoming complacent about spending can end up with us losing $100s or $1000s of dollars.

Here are 11 Everyday Tips to Help You Save Money. Each one alone may only give you a small increase in your savings, but together they can make a big different over the space of a year and the less money that comes out of your pocket day to day the better for your savings account and future.

1. Review insurance annually

Shop around for all insurance bills annually. Insurance can increase significantly year to year and most companies will take advantage of loyal customers who don’t put the time in to compare what they are being charged. Most insurance companies offer quick online quotes and allow you to alter the market value and excess coverage in order to get a true comparison. Within minutes you can have a few price comparisons for the insurance you are renewing and be well on your way to save money.

I’ve often saved hundreds of dollars doing this and for each insurance type over a year the savings can significantly add up. Do this for your car insurance, home and contents and any other insurance you purchase and it can easily save you hundreds of dollars or more a year. Another option is to call your insurance provider to ask if they can make you a better deal.  

2. Only shop when you have something specific in mind

Avoid going to the shops unless you specifically need something, particularly if the only reason is because you are bored. Make an ongoing list in your phone or planner of what you need as you think of it and take your list with you on your next trip to the shops. Sticking to a list will allow you to limit your shopping to specific stores and aisles, helping you avoid temptations of items not on your list. Not only will this help you save money but also save time, allowing you to use your time more wisely and create more space for more value adding activities.

3. Shop around for mobile phone plans regularly

Phone bills can add a significant cost to your annual budget. To save money shop around for phone plans, particularly if you are on a no lock in contract arrangement and have the flexibility to move around. Phone companies are always updating offers to attract new customers and if you haven’t researched in the past twelve months what offers are available to you, you may be losing out on some amazing savings.

By changing my phone provider, I was able to take up a 6 month phone plan for new customers that was half the price I was paying to my current provider for the same inclusions. This added up to a saving of $210 in the first year. It may not sound like a lot but that saving alone covers my gym membership for the next four months and that is definitely money better spent on my health. 

4. Limit dining out

Limit eating out where possible. If you do want to go out, buy the meal you most prefer to eat out whether that is breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. For me personally I can easily make toast or pancakes at home so I would rather use my dining out budget to pay for dinner which is something much more time consuming for me to create.

For dessert, often instead of going out and paying $30 on top of our dinner bill, I’ll opt for an ice cream at the movies or occasionally have some store bought waffles on hand in the pantry which comes out much cheaper and certainly doesn’t seem like a sacrifice to me! If you have a dinner outing that you don’t want to miss, opt for one of the cheaper menu items so you can socialise whilst avoiding blowing your budget. Alternatively, staying home and making dinner with friends or your partner is always a good compromise.

5. Reduce one of your regular expenses 

What do you buy regularly? Is it coffee? Chocolate? A soft drink at lunch? Pick one expense you buy regularly and try and reduce your spending on that one item. If you love coffee, buy a good quality coffee to have at home and bring your reusable coffee cup out with you. Can you bring in a bottle and have water at lunch instead of spending $4 daily on a coke? Could you cut back on buying the pricey vending machine chocolate on your afternoon tea and just bring some from home? Even if you just cut back slightly, or even make small reductions to two regular expenses that will give your savings a kick start.

6. Create a wish list with a wait period

Sometimes we don’t even realise we are making impulse purchases and taking a step back, or waiting a few of days to think about a purchase can help us be more intentional with what we are buying and bringing into our homes. Creating a wishlist is a great way to think about future purchases. When you come across something you want to buy, write it on your wishlist and try and wait a period of time such as 30 days before buying the items you have listed. This will help you to avoid impulse purchases and make more informed decisions.

A wishlist allows you to truly assess whether this new purchase is needed, if it will add value to your life and whether you want to part with your hard earned cash in exchange for it. It also allows you time to consider other products, look into reviews, ask friend for recommendations and do price comparisons to make sure you are getting the best product for your needs at the best price.

Your wait period can start small and you can gradually increase it to what suits you. To begin with, set a goal to walk away from the shop, say to yourself if I really want this I will come back to buy it before I leave. If you still want the item when you are ready to leave you’ll make the effort. Making educated purchases can help you avoid suffering any buyer’s remorse, having to go through the hassle of a return and save you any disappointment in your purchase.   

7. Review your utility plans

Have you been paying your utility bills on autopilot without reviewing what plan you are on? A quick call to your service provider can save you hundreds in a matter of minutes. Buy contacting my utility provider I was able to switch to a new plan that offered a 16% discount for on time or early payment. A quick ten minute phone call has added up to hundreds of dollars of savings that have helped us to save money and signficantly reduce our utility bills.

8. Unsubscribe from store mailing lists 

We are constantly exposed to advertising whether it be on the radio, TV, Youtube, or when we are checking our email. My inbox seemed to constantly be filling up with new sales and offers from stores and became and unnecessary distraction. Unsubscribe to your unwanted shopping email subscriptions as they come into your inbox. When you aren’t being informed on sales 24/7 you will reduce the desire to go shopping and buy unneccesary things as well as the fear of missing out. Instead of having advertisements telling you what you need to buy, you can be more intentional and only add to your wish list things that you need.

9. Stop paying ATM and monthly bank fees

No one likes paying bank fees, there is no benefit to us for these costs which makes this area a great place to start to save money. Learn where your banks local ATMs and stop withdrawing cash at other bank tellers. Each withdrawal is at $2.50 or more which does add up particularly if you are only withdrawing small amounts. Think ahead or pay by card where you can. Consider getting a card like ING’s Orange Everyday Account which gives a 100% ATM fee rebate.

Another expense that adds up are monthly bank fees. Contact your bank and ask them to wave fees on any bank account that you deposit $1000 or more into each month. If you are being charged monthly bank fees on your mortgage consider changing your home loan to a fee free one or asking for those fees to be waived. These small banking fees add up month to month and are much better in your bank account.

10. Review your super accounts

Do you have one superannuation account for every job you have had to date and have yet to consolidate them? Each superannuation account pays out management and insurance fees and if you are paying for these twice, or more, you are throwing away a large chunk of your retirement savings.  Consolidating your super is a lot easier than some might think. Most super funds just require you to fill in a Consolidate Your Super form and will contact your other superannuation fund to transfer your balance into your new account on your behalf. It may seem like your retirement is a lifetime away but every dollar you can save today is going to make your life a lot easier in the future.

11. Sign up to your local library

I recently joined my local library after hearing about the access to borrowing eBooks and audio books. I never go to the library, but could not pass up access to free ebooks and audiobooks on my phone. You only have to go to the library once to sign up and after download the OverDrive app you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks for free without having to leave your chair. I’ve listened and read countless audio and ebooks this way. If you aren’t too set on only reading physical copies this is a great way to read more and save money on buying books. They might not have every book you are after but any access to more books is a good thing.

Do you have any tips to save money that have worked for you? Please comment below to share with other readers.

Budgeting

10 Easy Tips to Save Money on Your Groceries Budget

Grocery shopping can make up a big portion of the weekly family budget. If you are not aware of your grocery spending habits those supermarket trips can easily add up significantly in a short space of time.  Here are 10 easy tips to save money on your groceries budget that can help you plan ahead and that can quickly add up to some great and easy savings on your grocery bills.

1. Always bring a list with you and stick to it

Save money on groceries by having a shopping list on your fridge. This is my number one tip to save money on your groceries budget! When you are out of something, write it down and by the end of the week you’ll have a list of things to buy that you actually use. Avoid walking into a supermarket unprepared! Once you are in store, resist adding to this list with impulse purchases by completely avoiding aisles that don’t contain items on your list.

2. Resist buying large quantities of new products

Avoid buying new products or if you can’t resist, only buy one to try it out first and see if you like it to avoid ending up with multiples of a new grocery item that you may not like. We quickly learnt that often new food or products we would buy on sale were more often than not left unused and taking up space in our pantry or cupboards. Sometimes it is best to stick to using our trusted and preferred brands of products to eliminate waste.

3. Shop online to help resist impulse purchases

Do your grocery shop online when you can. It’s easy to see what products you regularly purchase are on sale and helps you streamline your grocery list. I grab my shopping list, sit down for ten minutes and order what is on that list and pick it up at a convenient time or get it delivered. Not being in the store means you avoid additional temptation to make unnecessary purchases and helps you stick to your budget.

4. Buy only what you need and avoid excessive bulk purchases

Don’t overstock on sale items. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy a year‘s supply of it. Most popular items go on sale on a rotating cycle every 3-5 weeks so you needn’t be preparing for the apocalypse! You’ll often find when you do stock up on items like soft drinks and chocolates, you’ll end up consuming the items faster than if there was a smaller supply. Keep in mind how much you need when shopping. If you only need two tomatoes for a recipe and don’t plan on using tomatoes again for another week don’t buy the bulk pack just to make a saving on the per kilogram price. I’d rather pay a bit extra for two tomatoes per kilo that I ended up using, than binning and throwing away a lot more in wasted food and money.

5. Store food correctly to prolong life and reduce waste

Learn how to store food correctly in order to prolong it’s life. Some food such as potatoes and onions should be stored separately, tomatoes ripen better out of the fridge and herbs thrown into a glass of water will last a few days longer than in the fridge. This will ensure you get as long out of your fresh produce as possible saving you another trip to the store and money continually buying the same things when they have gone bad earlier than they should have.

6. Save with DIY Cleaning products

Reduce cleaning supply bills by making your own DIY cleaning products for a fraction of the price as well as limiting the cupboard overflowing with different products for each cleaning task. Bicarb, dish washing liquid, water and white vinegar alone can clean most areas of them home as well as help reduce the chemicals used inside the home. Cleaning products can contribute a huge portion of your grocery bills and can be a great way to save money on your groceries budget. 

7. Switch to machine washable cloths

Switching to machine washable microfiber cloths can helps save endless dollars on dish cloths. A pack of microfiber cloths can be obtained for $5-10 and can be washed again and again to save your replacing clothes regularly. Simply use and put in a wash cloth pile to wash once a week. Other savings tips for cloths is to soak them in vinegar and heat them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to kill bacteria or to throw them in with your dish washing
cycle once a week.

8. Meal Plan 

Meal Planning can be an easy way to save money on groceries. Base your shopping list on what meals you could make with the ingredients you currently have in your pantry or fridge. Add any additional ingredients required for those recipes to the shopping list. If you’re buying something that will not be used up in one meal, incorporate the left overs into your next meal so you can avoid food waste or freeze remaining portions where possible for next time. Ten minutes a week meal planning can save you hundreds over the year and drastically help reduce food waste in your home.

9. Research specials online or in catalogues prior to entering the supermarket 

Buying more expensive items such as beverages, beauty and cleaning products can add up over time when paying full price. In order to easily save money on your groceries budget, check out the weekly catalogues for your local supermarkets. Make separate lists for your groceries based on what you are planning to buy in each and shop according to what store has the best price. This might take a little longer, but the savings can be very much worth your while. If you do online shopping this can be even easier where you can just order from different stores and get pick up or home delivery to avoid multiple trips. Alternatively, go to the shop when it suits you, it doesn’t have to be in the same day, if you will be near one today and another on the weekend grab what you need when it is convenient.

10. Pay attention to the ticket pricing per weight

In Australia, supermarkets are now required to include easy price comparisons on their pricing tags such as price per 100 grams. You can now easily compare various sizes and prices of similar products from the price tag on the shelf. This can be done much quicker than before when you’d be trying to work these things out in your head or with your calculator and can be an easy quick way to decide in store or online what is the best value for money product to buy.

Do you have any tips to save money on your groceries budget? Leave a comment below!