Since I have started this blog it has made me notice that I used to be quite a good saver back when it was a necessary requirement due to my low income.
But as my income grew my spending also increased to the point where I was not taking any notice of what I was spending money on.
When I did the sums in my quarterly update, you can see the sorry story that from a cash flow perspective we are spending more than we earn.
Once I noticed the trend, we have implemented a number of ideas to help us to save more this month.
Review your home insurance renewal each year
It just so happened that our insurance for our primary residence and one of our rental properties was due this month.
The renewal prices were creeping up each year and the past few times I have just paid them as they fell at times when I had a brand new baby taking up all my time.
This time around I spent about 30 minutes comparing options online.
Even the price from the company my renewal was with had a cheaper price online. But they were still not the best value so I cancelled those and renewed elsewhere.
This alone has saved us more than $600 for the year!
Negotiate your home loan rate
It is in a bank’s best interest to try to retain you as a customer rather than try and find a new one,. So this is good news as it puts you in a position of power.
It is worth doing some research to compare your current rate to what is available in the market. This will help you be prepared to have a conversation with your bank about looking to move your home loan.
When the bank thinks you are going to move then they are likely to offer a discount to retain you.
With my background in working in Marketing in the Banks I have been doing this for a number of years and the phone call saves me thousands in interest per year.
Review savings account interest rate
If you have your money in an online savings account it is worth checking what interest rate you are on.
Most banks offer a higher bonus rate for a limited time and then rely on you keeping your money with them on a low rate once the bonus interest ends.
And from working in the banks, this strategy works for them. Most people forget or cannot be bothered to move their money around so they leave it on a low rate.
Just reviewing your rate and moving it to a higher interest account can add more to your savings each year.
Sign up for Cash Rewards and PricePal
Cash Rewards and PricePal are both websites that offer cash back on purchases you make from a large selection of online stores. It is great for getting a bonus for things you were planning on purchasing anyway.
If you sign up using the links above you will get a $5 bonus to get you started. If you want more detail on these sites check out my Guide to the best Australian Cashback and Online Survey Sites.
Complete Surveys Online
Save on your phone bill
Determine if you still need a landline and if not consider cancelling it. We have not had a landline for many years now as our mobiles do the job.
Most of the time I send messages anyway and when I need to call someone I try and seek out Online Chat first as it seems to be more time efficient that way too.
You might also like to check if your mobile plan contract has expired. The telecommunication companies are always coming out with new offers so it pays to review it every year or so.
Make take away food at home
Buying take away food has been our family’s biggest downfall. So we have made sure to purchase a few things in our weekly grocery shop that can satisfy the take away craving but we can make at home instead.
The other bonus for this is that the homemade stuff tends to be a slightly healthier alternative too.
Seek out free entertainment
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on entertainment. Some free ideas include bush walking, going to the local park, watching a movie at home, having a picnic or going for a swim.
A lot of people choose shopping as a way to fill in time, so why not join up to some mystery shopping places so that you are paid to do this instead.
Beside the health benefits of quitting, giving up will save you around $1,500 a year if you smoke one packet a week.
Sign up for Frequent Flyer programs
I am a member of both Velocity Frequent Flyer and Qantas Frequent Flyer (tip Google free Qantas Frequent Flyer so you don’t pay their joining fee).
Whilst I don’t earn a massive amount of points, I do use them for when I am going to purchase something anyway so get a reward for doing so. It is usually enough for an interstate ticket to visit relatives each year.
Join Loyalty Programs
Whilst the cards can be a pain to manage, if places you shop at regularly have a loyalty program it can be worthwhile signing up as you will often getting discounts and exclusive offers.
Sell your unwanted stuff
I used to sell a lot of things in the past on Ebay or in Buy and Sell groups on Facebook. But lately life got in the way.
I have decided to dedicate half an hour over this upcoming weekend to take photos and write descriptions for items that we don’t use and are in good condition.
I also think that doing a bit of decluttering helps to clear the head as well.
Create a meal plan
So I think I mention in my About section that you won’t see any meal plans on this site, and that remains true. I don’t really prepare an exhaustive meal plan and list ingredients.
We basically just plan for the week what meals we are going to have based on the meat we buy and then add vegetables to it.
I am really boring and have the same breakfast, lunch and snacks most days hence seeing a meal plan from me won’t excite too many of you.
Don’t purchase a new car
It is no surprise to read that most personal finance bloggers drive an older vehicle. Plus they all seemed to follow the golden rule of not buying a new car.
As soon as you drive the car off the lot the value goes down. If you can purchase a used vehicle only a couple of years old with much lower kilometres it will save you thousands.
In case you are interested, I drive a 2005 Mazda 3. I will drive it till it dies.
Consolidate your loans
If you have a number of personal loans and credit cards, it can be beneficial to consolidate them into one loan.
This loan will usually be at a rate lower than your credit cards and allows you a single point of focus to pay down your debt.
Bring your lunch from home
This is a big one for me. If I don’t take my lunch to work I find myself spending on average $15 a day. If you do that every day for a year you would have spent almost $4,000 just on lunch!
I now make sure I take my lunch and my at home version costs me far less than $15.
Drink more water
Not only is drinking water good for you, but if you can replace your soft drink or juice each day with water instead, you will save at least $10 a week.
Make sure you have fee free banking
There is no reason these days that you should be paying a monthly fee for your transaction account. Most of the banks and credit unions in Australia offer fee free banking if you deposit a certain amount each month. If you are paying a fee, switch today!
Buy generic brands
For things like staples of flour, sugar and other spices there is really no noticeable difference between the generic brand and the brand names so save some money by buying the generic brands.
I mostly shop at Aldi these days and find their brands quite good quality.
Create a budget
This is covered off in my 7 day Kick Start to Wealth challenge, but the best way to save money is to create a budget and arrange to pay yourself first.
Clean out your pantry and freezer
Set yourself a challenge to use up your pantry and freezer items. This is something I still need to get on top of.
We always seem to find ourselves struggling to fit everything into the freezer after we do our grocery shop so I know we have things hiding in there that we should be using.
Next week I will do an audit and make sure we include some of our freezer food into our dinner plans for the week.
Search for coupon codes before purchasing
This is something I always do before I make a purchase online. I will google the store name and the words coupon or discount.
A lot of the times a promotion code will be available that you can use when you check out.
Take advantage of birthday freebies
If you sign up for loyalty programs most of them offer a birthday freebie. I will be doing a post soon on this, but some of the places that give freebies are Boost Juice, Oporto, Subway, Priceline, Bonds and Hoyts.
Rent out a room
If you have the space in your home renting out a room to an overseas student can be a beneficial way to bring in additional income.
Loan out your car
If you live in Sydney or Melbourne and your car sits idle most days when you are at work you might like to consider offering peer to peer car rental services. You can learn more about this at carnextdoor.com.au
Save on your electricity bill
Just like I have recommended above to review your phone bill it also pays to shop around for the best deal on your energy bill.
Claim your work expenses
This is one I am pretty bad at remembering to do. I will often by a coffee for a client or pay for my train ticket to go to a client meeting and forget to put in my expense claim with my work.
I would guess I have cost myself several hundred dollars over the years in unclaimed expenses.
Ask for a discount
This one might sound a bit silly but it really does pay to ask. Some places will provide a discount if you pay in cash.
Other times you can get a discount if something has damaged packaging or a slight mark on it that you can easily remove later.
Review your Superannuation fund
The fees and returns on Super funds can vary greatly so given this is going to be the retirement nest egg for most people, it pays to check details of your account.
The difference could be tens of thousands over the long term. In general, industry Super funds tend to be a better option than retail funds.
Get rid of pay TV
We currently have Foxtel. It is mainly used for my husband to watch sport and for the kids to watch cartoons. We also have Netflix so besides the sport we don’t really need it. Convincing my husband to get rid of it is a work in progress.
Use the extras on your credit card
If you do have a credit card and you don’t manage it well – pay it off and cancel it.
But if you manage your money well and use a credit card to gain points and pay off the balance in full each month than it pays to check out the extras that are included.
For example, I was about to pay $200 for travel insurance for our trip to Hawaii that is coming up next month, but I checked my credit card inclusions and because we paid for the flights and accommodation on my card we are covered for the travel insurance.
Other benefits I get include rental car excess cover, extended warranty cover and price guarantee cover as well as complimentary airport lounge passes. Your benefits can differ depending on the card you have so it pays to check it out.
Cut out temptations
If you receive a lot of emails with online shopping offers that encourage you to impulse buy, take a little bit of time to either unsubscribe from these temptations or set up a separate email address to receive these offers to. Only check the inbox when you are looking to buy something in particular.
Shop with a list
The number of impulse purchases I have made because I went to do the grocery shopping with no clear plan or list would add up to thousands over the years.
Going armed with a list or at least a clear idea of what you need to purchase will stop you from grabbing all those little extras that soon add up.
Turn off the lights
Whilst this might only be a minor thing, over the year leaving lights on can add to your electricity bill.
Turning off lights in rooms you are not using only takes a moment and is a good habit to get into.
Start a garden
Even if you do not have a lot of space even starting a herb garden can save you a ton over a year. If you have a bit more room growing your own produce can save you a bucket load.
My friend Becky over at Family Garden Life has a great free e-book about how to start a Veggie Patch that is worth checking out.
Pack food for road trips
We quite often drive in the holidays to visit family who live a few hours drive away. It is really easy when we stop for toilet breaks with the kids to also pick up some snacks along the way that soon add up.
We have now started buying in advance snacks to take along as the cost at the supermarket is cheaper than buying things at the service station.
Take cash on a night out
It is so easy these days with the likes of Pay Wave to use your credit or debit card and not keep track of how much you are spending on a night out.
Instead set a budget for the night and take the cash out beforehand. When the cash is in your hands you will pay far more attention to how quickly the money is being spent.
Go generic at the chemist
Whenever you need a prescription or even just some over the counter paracetamol always opt for the generic version.
The active ingredients are the same and I figure the hospitals aren’t handing out brand names so if generic is good enough for them it is good enough for me.
Start a coin jar
Whilst I recommend this for kids in my 15 activities to teach kids about money it can also be a good idea to start a jar for yourself.
Me and my husband throw all of our spare change into an old bucket and at the end of the year we always end up with a few hundred dollars to deposit in the bank.
Wash your own car
The cost of taking your car to the car wash can be upward of $40, so now we save the cash and my husband washing the cars with our three year old as his little assistant.
If you are renting could you look at moving to a smaller place with a cheaper rent, so that you can save or invest the difference?
Selling your home and downsizing can be a bit more challenging as the selling costs and stamp duty can eat into some of the benefits, but if you are nearing retirement selling the family home and moving to a smaller place or a regional town can help to add a cash injection into your retirement nest egg.
Buy produce in season
The price of fruit and vegetables are always better value when they are in season. Silly me some months ago brought grapes for $17 a kilo when now they are less than $3 as they are in season.
If you are looking to buy something, make a commitment to at least wait until the next day to make the purchase. Waiting a week is even better.
You will often find that the impulse to buy is gone and more often than not you will come to the conclusion that you don’t in fact need to buy the item.
Make your own coffee
I am a little bit of a sucker for buying a coffee in the afternoon at work. This costs me $5 a day so over a year it certainly adds up.
Our office has a coffee machine so I will be switching to that or making a herbal tea instead.
Invest without thinking
I have just started using the micro-investing App Acorns. I like that it just invests the rounding on whatever purchases I make so I really don’t notice the money being missing.
But the amount is slowly building which is a nice little bonus.
It has also been a good way to dip my toes into investing outside of property.
Be sure to check your company’s corporate benefits
Most companies offer employee benefits and more often than not people don’t tend to take advantage of them. A lot of places will have discounts on gym memberships, insurance, banking products and attraction tickets. It pays to check out what you are entitled too.
Pre-plan when you need to use an ATM
To avoid ATM fees plan ahead and make sure you can visit an ATM linked to your account where you can avoid the charge.
It is also an idea to take out all of the cash you will need for the week in one go.
Monitor your bank balance
When I first met my husband he was paid cash in hand so money never quite made it into his account.
As a result he was always getting charged overdrawn fees because his balance went into negative.
These days with most banks you can set up low balance alerts when your account falls below a certain amount so it can help you be aware of when you are susceptible to overdrawn fees.
Make friends with the library
In my early days of investing I would have read a book every couple of days. I borrowed books from the library to save on costs. And those books I did choose to buy, I later sold on Ebay.
Get started on doing the items on this list
This one might just be the most important one on the list. It is all well and good to read the list and decide all of these ideas would be good to implement, but it is the actual implementation that will make all the difference.
If doing a lot of these things all at once feels a bit overwhelming, why not choose one or two a week to start with and before you know it you will see your savings soar.