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How to save money (and still have a life)

by Amanda Collins

We’d all like to save money instead of finding our accounts magically down to single digits the day after pay-day so we’ve come up with 6 top tips to help you stop wasting your money, and to save it instead!

how to save money and still have a life

Bank savings

  • If you have a bank account which charges you fees, it may be time to have a look around at the options out there. Plenty of banks offer no fee accounts, and though you’d only save a few dollars a month, in the long run you could end up with huge savings!
  • Open a high interest, no fee, savings account where you can squirrel away long term savings.
  • Don’t stop buying stop little luxuries all together, instead, swap them. So if your daily coffee costs $3.50, find a place that sells it for $3, then pop the 50c that you save into your savings account. It may sound funny, but multiplied over time, these little savings add up to impressive accounts.
  • Credit cards can be handy, however, they can end up costing you a fortune. The best bet is to take them out of your wallet and place them in a difficult to access space, like the top of your wardrobe, or frozen inside a block of ice in the freezer (so you have time to think about the purchase while it thaws out).
  • If you have credit card debt, you may want to have a look at transferring the balance to another company with a 0% balance transfer for 24 months. You will however want to pay the debt off in those 24 months to avoid more fees.

how to save money with a bank

Cheap and cheerful outings

You don’t have to have a wallet full of cash to have a fun time. There are plenty of fun things you could do without spending a cent. Simply pack a tasty homemade lunch or dinner, a thermos of tea or a bottle of wine, and head out with the following ideas:

  • Have a Google and see what free entertainment your city or town has on offer. You’d be surprised at what is out there, from art galleries, to concerts, markets, festivals, events, open days, talks and lectures, there’s always something on.
  • Get out in the great outdoors. Go for a bushwalk or a hike, ride your bike to a park, get a group together and play a game of soccer or basketball, or spend a day at the beach.
  • Join a local sports team. You will save money on outings, get fit and meet new friends.
  • Start your own book club. Some libraries let you reserve multiple copies of books, so no one in your book club has to spend a cent on books. Check with your library if they offer this service.
  • Host a dinner party and have everyone bring a dish. It’s a fun way to spend an evening. You could even theme it, so everyone brings a dish under a particular theme, like 1960’s fondue food, or a middle-ages feast.
  • Have a movie night in on the couch. There’s nothing better than putting on comfortable clothes, grabbing some snacks and plonking on the couch for an evening of movies with people whose company you enjoy.
  • Go on an exercise date with a friend. Instead of chatting over the phone or meeting for lunch, why not meet at a local park and go for a walk together. You can chat, catch up and get fit all at the same time.
  • Learn a new hobby or a skill. There are loads of ‘how to’ clips on YouTube covering just about any hobby you can think of. Learn to sew, make a cabinet, paint, draw, sing, use a computer program, make an excel spreadsheet, the list is limitless! If you learn a skill like sewing, you could also earn some extra cash selling your creations!
  • Host a cocktail evening. Select a range of cocktails that you will make and have your guests each bring one cocktail ingredient. Pop on some music and have a fantastic (cheap) night in.
  • Play board games. Rediscover the joy and laughter that can come from a game of Monopoly, Chess, Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble.

Cook in bulk/crockpot

It’s crazy how expensive food has become! To cut down on your grocery bill consider the following tips:

  • Buy your fruit and veg at a green grocer instead of the big supermarkets. It’s often cheaper and fresher.
  • Avoid quick trips to the supermarket, instead make a list and do one big shop per week or fortnight. In the end this will save you a lot of money on impulse buys.
  • When you go to the supermarket, go with a well-organised list and a pencil to cross items off as you go. Try to group things by the aisles that they will be in. This will cut down the time that you are in the supermarket (and the potential to spend more). It also cuts down on ‘browsing’ which leads to overspending!
  • Always take your lunch to work with you, trust us, it will save you a fortune!
  • Meals with rice, beans and legumes, like vegetable curries and stews, are super cheap to cook and taste fantastic. Make a big batch and freeze what you don’t eat for quick and easy ‘fast’ food when you don’t have the time or energy to cook.
  • Investing in a slow cooker is also a fantastic idea, as you can pop all your cheap ingredients into it in the morning, turn the setting to low, and by the time you get home you have a perfectly slow cooked dinner waiting for you!
  • Packing food for road trips will also save you a bucket of money. Make some sandwiches, get some fruit, water and a thermos of tea or coffee and you won’t be lumped with a $50 bill for some chips, chocolate and Coke at a roadside service station.

For some inexpensive and tasty recipes check out the following websites:

  • Cooking Light – Cooking Light is a website full to the brim with budget friendly recipes.
  • Taste – A special section of the popular Taste recipe website is wholly devoted to recipes that don’t cost the earth.
  • Cheap and Cheerful by Jamie Oliver– Everyone’s favourite British chef Jamie Oliver turns his hand towards budget conscious cooking, and the resulting recipes are featured on this site.
  • BBC Good Food – This site celebrates the best of British cooking on a budget.
  • Slow Cooker Adventures – A busy mum’s guide to slow cooking, this site features hundreds of budget friendly, delicious recipes to suit even the fussiest of eaters.

how to save money on food

Make your own cleaners

You can save a lot of money and avoid harmful chemicals simply by making your own cleaning products. It is ridiculously easy to do, and the products clean, deodorise and kill germs effectively!

See a range of home cleaning recipes here.

how to save money on cleaning

Avoid the shopping centre

It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, but time at your local shopping centre will cost you money (no matter how much you promise yourself you won’t spend a cent). Your best bet is to only visit the shops when you have to do a grocery shop, or when necessity means you have to buy something.

If you are tempted by a purchase, try to put in place the ‘30 Day Rule’, i.e. wait 30 days before buying it. Often you will find the burning desire you felt for the item has gone in 30 days.

how to save money, not splurge

Cheaper holidays

Holidays don’t need to cost you a small fortune, you can have a fantastic time with a few tips.

  • When you’re booking flights you can often find savings if you book departures before 8am or after 8pm. In addition flying on a Wednesday will generally net you some savings (Wednesday is traditionally the cheapest day to fly).
  • Alternatively, if travelling within Australia, do you need to fly or drive? Australia’s train system offers some amazing deals for families travelling (some even let you take children for $1 with a full fare paying adult!).
  • Have you tried camping, house swapping or farm stays? Cheaper than hotels and motels, these holiday styles offer fantastic, memorable times.

how to save money and still have fun

Embrace the library

  • You may not have visited a library since you were a child, but these places are bursting with free goodness.
  • Firstly, you can borrow and read books for free, most libraries also offer free internet and computers.
  • In addition, they usually have space to relax and read, desks to study and a whole bunch of talks, lectures, book clubs and other social activities going on. It really is a one-stop free entertainment shop.

It is possible to save and have a great life at the same time. With some creativity and a willingness to embrace a few new habits you can live more for less money!

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