There are simple changes that you can make to your spending habits every week that could potentially save you thousands of dollars. Sometimes we become loyal to particular stores and products. Sometimes we just don’t look at the alternative because it has become habit to pick up the same item that we have been buying for the last 5 years. Any new habits take time to adjust to. Sometimes it is not until we are faced with a major change in our lives through job loss or illness that we consider changing our spending habits because we are forced to.
I’m going to share with you some of the things that I have done in my life over time,-the changes that I have made and the habits that I have formed that have allowed me to save hundreds of dollars every month.
- Make weekly dinner menus– you will be less likely to impulse buy, you will waste less money on food with empty calories (because it will be full of healthier options) and minimise the amount of spoilt vegetables and fresh produce that you throw out at the end of the week.
- Buy less fresh produce, more frequently. I do a large shop once a fortnight, then two other quick trips for fresh produce (milk, fruit and vegetables) within that fortnight. This reduces the amount of fresh produce that I throw out.
- Use a shopping list. Keep your shopping list on the fridge and as you notice things that are running low at home, add them to you list straight away. This will lessen the chance of accumulating excessive amounts of things like bathroom cleaner that will take you years to use up.
- Buy staple items in bulk– bulk buying shelf items like pasta and rice is usually cheaper. Check the price per 100g to ensure it is cheaper.
- If you’ve been shopping at the same grocery store for years, try somewhere different for a change and compare prices. I converted from Coles to Aldi years ago. I do my large fortnightly shop at Aldi but when I need to do a fresh produce top up, I duck into Coles and check their specials while I’m there. Big W also sell things such as laundry powder in bulk for a lot less.
- Be aware of what competitors offer when it is time for renewing contracts. Especially insurance, CTP green slips, car servicing, electricity and phone companies. Don’t just renew your policies without getting competitor quotes. Use sites such as http://www.comparethemarket to compare insurance quotes.
- Prepared to negotiate prices. When buying larger ticket items like fridges, kettles, toys etc compare prices online. You can use this knowledge to negotiate a better price at most stores will match or beat their competitors prices.
- Be aware of ‘market day’ at your supermarket, which is when fruit and veg are usually cheaper.
- Check your dockets and keep an eye out in your local newspaper and catalogues for coupons. Keep coupons in a safe place in your wallet so that they are ready to use or take a photo on your smartphone. Most stores will allow you to use an electronic version. Search for online coupons and deals. Use search words like coupon, deal, and shopadocket, with things like Greater Union, Subway, fast food, bowling etc and you will find a number of vouchers that can be printed or saved to your smart phone to use in store.
- Use loyalty cards. This doesn’t mean you have to be loyal to one store.
- Buy from wholesale fruit and veg and meat markets wherever possible. They are usually cheaper because they haven’t travelled so far to get to you. Plus they will be fresher and will last longer. At a meat wholesaler, you can buy larger cuts of beef at a much lower price and ask the butcher to slice it for you at no extra charge.
- If you don’t have the time to tend to a vegetable garden, at least grow your own herbs. They can be grown pretty much anywhere – in a cup, a pot, between your flowers etc.
- Change your fresh food shopping habits and buy what is in season. If you continue to buy particular fruit and vegetables when they are out of season you will pay double the amount because they are usually shipped in from overseas.
- Learn to use your left overs the following day for lunch or incorporate it into the next night’s dinner. Otherwise, freeze them for a time when you are not prepared and need a quick meal.
- Have at least two meat free dinners per week. Humans do not need to eat so much meat and meat is one of the most expensive food items on most family’s grocery bills. Search for recipes that use legumes, beans and other meat alternatives. Here are some to get you started.
- Avoid buying ‘fun-packs’ for kids to take to school. Make your own popcorn or buy pretzels in a larger pack and pre-package them in small containers. It is cheaper this way and less disposable packaging is better for the environment. If sliced cheese costs more than block cheese- buy a block and slice it yourself.
- Learn to make and bake things at home. Take a look at my home made Greek yoghurt recipe. It costs me $2 to make and $5.50 to buy already made.
- Use free Wi-Fi when you can. Westfield shopping centres, libraries, Bunnings and McDonalds are all places that offer free wifi and there are many more.
- Make phone calls using your internet. You can so this on your computer or tablet using Skype, or on your smartphone using FaceTime which will use your internet data rather than your phone data. Of course the person you are calling also needs to have this service on their device.
- If your family has more than one car, use the car that uses less petrol.
- Buy the most energy efficient products possible. If you did this with all of your devices you could save hundreds in electricity.
- Don’t use your credit card– instead set up a weekly automatic deduction to pay it off and then keep it for emergencies. If you need some motivation to do this, check your last six statements for the amount of money you have spend on interest charges, late fees and annual fee.
- Don’t buy fad machines like muffin makers, rice cookers and ice crusher machines. Use what you already have! Coffee machines don’t count…. espresso coffee at home is a must!!
- Fix before replacing. Don’t buy new household items like washing machines, dryers, vacuum cleaners etc unless your old one is actually broken. No-one cares how new these things look. Consider repairing instead of replacing.
- Share what you don’t need with your family, friends and neighbours and they will do the same with you. If you have pot plants and glassware that you no longer use, give them away. If you have a lemon tree dropping lemons all over your yard or a herb garden that is overgrown, share it around. Pass on clothes that your children have grown.
There are so many ways to save money. It just takes a little practice and awareness. These are just a few. Please share your money saving ideas in the ‘comments’ below.