How to Save Money (Every Day!)

If you’re looking to supercharge your budget and save thousands of dollars in every part of your life, this is your ultimate savings guide for a super budget strategy. We’ve compiled the Top 5 Savings Tips into one ultimate cash-saver guide so you can kickstart your savings.

  • Avoid Food Waste at Home 
  • Super-Saver Work Lunches 
  • Amazing Cheap Date Ideas 
  • How to Save Money when Shopping 
  • Tips to Save on Petrol 

Saving Money at Home

There are many things you do to save money in your home. We’ve compiled exhaustive individual guides on how to reduce your power bill, and how you can sell unwanted items for quick cash, but this savings tip covers one of the most important parts of your home life: food

While the food wastage statistics may change slightly with each year that passes, on average the below facts and figures on throwing away food remain the same. Accepting these stats will help reduce your household food wastage, save money, and become a more ‘aware’ consumer that doesn’t take the privilege of easy-to-access food for granted.

Food Wastage Stats, Facts & Figures In Australia

  • $8 billion dollars worth of food is thrown out each year by Australians
  • That is 4 tonnes of food
  • That is around 500KG per Australian household wasted
  • $1036 is the cost to your pocket per year for wasting food 

For some, it’s the idea of wasting money that gets them upset, while for others it’s about the fact that food is such a valuable resource worldwide and yet we take it for granted in so many western countries.

How much money would you save by becoming food-waste conscious?

In terms of budgeting, adopting a food-waste conscious mindset is crucial for a few reasons:

  • You aren’t unnecessarily wasting money 
  • You’re developing a mindset where you only buy what you need and will use 
  • You’re learning to live within your means 

Top reasons for food wastage

According to ‘The Food Waste Avoidance Benchmark Study’ performed by the NSW Government and Savings Guide research data, the top reasons for food wastage in Australia are:

  • We buy too much food 
  • We overcook quantities and need to relearn portion requirements 
  • We are terrible at storing food correctly 
  • We don’t understand how to use leftovers 

What kind of food do we often waste in Australia?

  • Fresh produce (33%) 
  • Leftovers (27%) 
  • Products that are packaged (15%) 
  • Drinks (9%) 
  • Frozen food items (9%) 
  • Takeaway food (7%) 

As you can see, there is a large amount of fresh produce that is wasted simply because people either overspend or under-prepare for the meals they are going to eat. If we were more aware of the food we had in the fridge, its use-by date and how we can diversify our food to create better meals - we wouldn’t waste as much.

What you need to do to start saving money

  • Stop food wastage. Save money. 
  • Start meal planning better. 
  • Look to reduce your grocery bill and opt instead to become more accountable for the fresh food you buy. 
  • Always store leftovers and use them the next day for lunch or similar. 
  • Learn what vegetables go off quickly – use them first. 
  • Study the use-by dates of items you put into your fridge. 

Saving Money at Work

Not everyone spends all day at home, and considering ways to reduce our spending while at work will have a long-standing impact throughout our lives. Consider that you may work for 40 - 50 years, and that in our increasingly time-poor society many of us are forced into taking short lunch breaks and overspending out of convenience. 

Taking your lunch to work is healthier, simpler, and the easiest way to save money. In fact, you can save over $4,800 a year in many cases. How would you benefit from making lunch at home and bringing it to work? Let’s look at four simple motivations: 

  • You save money 
  • You eat a healthier lunch that is home-made, not heavily fried or processed with extra calories 
  • You spend your lunch time relaxing and taking personal time instead of deciding on where to buy food
  • You have a solid 30 - 60 minutes each day to accomplish personal tasks (like paying bills or catching up on the news) 

How to save $4,800 a year on lunch

The math is quite simple. In a 52-week year, the average worker is in the office for 48 weeks, accounting for four weeks of annual leave. 

If you spend $20 a day on lunch, that equates to $100 each week, or $4,800 each year. Think about that for a moment: stop buying lunch, save $4,800 a year. It’s like getting a massive pay rise overnight.

Don’t spend $20 a day on lunch? The chart below covers how much it costs you per year based upon your daily food budget. Even as little as $5 a day can add up to over $1,000 across a year. 

Yearly Cost of Your Lunch

Daily Lunch SpendYearly Cost

Top 5 Tips on Saving Money By Making Your Own Lunch

  • Utilise leftovers. Stop food wastage, save more money. Anything you don’t eat at home, whether it be dinner from the night before or fruit and veggies that run the risk of going off, bring them to work and eat them. See yourself as a human vacuum to eat up all the leftover food that would otherwise go to waste (but be careful not to hoover up too much). Reducing waste is as good as saving money, as you don’t need to outlay even more money. 
  • Have lunch at the same time every day. Routine helps you save money. If you eat lunch at different times of the day over the week, your body does not get into a routine and can leave you starving at different times. This in turn makes you more vulnerable to simply get up and join the masses exiting the building for a takeaway lunch at the food court. 
  • Use your savings for good. Work out your daily lunch and food expenses. Once you know the figure, ensure you save the money and use it to build wealth, pay off debt and generally get ahead. No point not eating lunch to save $3,000 a year only to pick up a lottery ticket hobbit of equal value. Consider making a separate high-interest savings account that is dedicated to your lunch savings, or alternatively, make micro transfers to your bad debts (like credit cards and personal loans) to pay less in daily interest. 
  • Stock up on long life and healthy ‘desk draw’ foods. Go to ALDI, buy a heap of tuna and 4 bean mixes. They are super healthy, high in protein and nourishment and will survive almost forever. Stock up on items like this and other long-life canned goods (be careful to not buy soups that are high in salt content). Having items in your desk drawer means that if you ever forget your lunch or feel tempted to eat elsewhere, you have food close by to dull your cravings. 
  • Meal plan motivation. Many of us feel too rushed in the mornings to find the time to make lunch before work. The five minutes spent preparing lunch the night before will prevent spending $20 a day on eating food that isn’t as healthy as the lunch you can bring from home. Take the time to prepare, save and get ahead.

Costs of buying lunch vs making your own lunch

Can you really save that much making your own lunch instead of just buying your lunch? We looked at three different lunches - a tuna sandwich, a chicken salad, and a beef pie - and compared the cost to buy versus the cost to make at home.  

The most interesting part of this comparison is that the make-at-home version all use free-range ingredients and healthier alternatives than their store-bought counterparts - if you want to save money and save the planet, making your own lunch is the way to go! 

Cost of Homemade Lunch vs Buying Lunch

Lunch FoodCost To BuyCost To Make at HomeHow much you save
Tuna Sandwich$7.90$3.09$4.81
Chicken Salad$18$8.33$9.67
Beef Pie$9.20$5.58$3.62

Long-term motivation for making your own lunch

If you’re a pro with meal-planning, then making your own lunch is an amazing way to quickly cut back on your weekly spending. Of course, this doesn’t factor in the time you’ll spend making your lunch or the cost of petrol to drive to the grocery store, but these are both things you can incorporate into an overall budget strategy. 

To really illustrate the potential making small changes like this can have on your savings, we’re going to show you an example of what you can do with that extra $4,800: 

$4,800 deposited in a high-interest savings account, offering a rate of 5%, would equate to $68,193 in savings after ten years. 

That is over $15,000 in interest earned. Imagine just putting some discipline in place and sticking to this strategy for the next 10 years of your life: would you prefer a cheque for $68,000, or the convenience of grabbing an overpriced sandwich from the food court? 

Saving Money on Dates

Dating can be the ultimate nightmare for anyone trying to save money. You meet someone special, and you want to do something romantic and exciting without the fear of your budget collapsing. Fortunately, like all other budgeting strategies, your dating life doesn’t have to suffer because you’re trying to save money - great dates on a budget just require some ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking.

Cheap Date Ideas & Dating Ideas For People On A Budget

Truly great, memorable dates aren’t defined by a dollar figure - instead they’re the kind of unique experiences that bring two people closer together. With this in mind, use this list as a bit of inspiration for your next date night, a bit of money saving, and most importantly - a bit of romance. 

They say it’s the thought that counts, so if you really are interested in making a lasting impression, consider what your potential other half might enjoy before making any grand plans. 

  • Dance lessons - There are heaps of dancing lessons around town, a quick internet search will help you find the best ones. A one-time lesson is usually under $25 for a couple, and for that price you could even afford a couple of drinks before you hit the dance floor.
  • A night under the stars at the observatory - You can often head to the observatory for under $20 each, and spend the evening checking out all the wonders of the night sky. 
  • Picnics - Invest in some reasonable bubbly, set aside some time to make some nice picnic food and choose a venue based on weather and scenery. Take a comfy rug, a basket of goodies and go somewhere picturesque. Simple. 
  • Go for a romantic date night walk - Fresh air, sunshine and greenery all around can make you feel like you’re in a lost fantasy world, and a little light exercise will make you both feel alive. Contact your local council to get a walking map that includes local attractions. You could even combine it with a picnic, and get to know each other and your town in the meantime. 
  • Lawn bowls for you trendy daters - Choose your candidate wisely for this one, but lawn bowls is a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a very reasonably priced date. There is club-priced beer, sun, and a healthy dose of friendly competition. 
  • Art after hours - Museums during the day might not be the best option for an impressive date, but at night they can be perfection. Start with a glass of champagne at the bar, then wander around the late-opening exhibits, duck into an old French movie or check out the latest talk being held - all for free. 
  • Affordable theatre - Amateur theatre can be truly dreadful. The same goes with open-mic nights or amateur poetry gatherings, but it’s all part of the appeal. Find out what is going on in your local area and make it a date. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad; it’s always great to see people having a go. 
  • Have a movie night for date night - Challenge each other to bring a film to a themed movie night. Categories could be ‘worst movie ever made’, or ‘best classic movie’. You could even take it one step further and instead of just sitting down on the couch to watch movies, set your living area up differently to embrace the event. Perhaps you could put the TV on the patio and watch a movie over a nice home-cooked dinner. You could even make a theme; if you are watching a French film, go with French food! 
  • Go to the Farmers Markets for a practical date - A lovely way to spend a weekend morning for a day-date is to check out your local grower’s markets. Spend the day wandering around the markets, discussing what you’d like to eat. You can buy delicious food straight from the producer, and then head home and cook up a meal for your date, or take it out for an impromptu picnic! 
  • Show some team spirit and go for a sporting date - If your partner is a wild sports fan, why not go and see a local rugby match or perhaps a game of cricket at the local park. Generally, you’ll only pay a nominal fee for anything held at the stadiums and you’ll get free entry to the local sports ground. Maybe pack a thermos of hot chocolate during winter or in a fresh lemonade in summer, and have something to drink whilst cheering on the team. 
  • Chocolate and Candy Shopping - Who does the best cupcakes in town? This is the perfect opportunity to find out! Organise to go on a date with your partner and hunt down the best chocolates or candy stores in the city. All the sugar will give you a good excuse to enjoy the walk from store to store, and you can rarely go wrong with a cupcake store or chocolatier! 
  • The beach - You might not want to get into your swimsuit this early on in the relationship, but fish and chips on the beach at sunset is romantic in any weather. Go for a stroll, pick up shells and enjoy a perfect, priceless backdrop for your date. 
  • The arcade - Dating a gamer? Head to your local games arcade and play some two-player games with - or against! - each other. Chances are you’ll find something you both like, whether it’s air hockey, shooting games, or good, old-fashioned Street Fighter! 
  • Geocaching! - You might not have heard of this one before, but geocaching is a relatively new phenomenon combining traditional orienteering with modern technology - the result is hours of free fun! Players hunt for treasures hidden by other players in locations all over Australia - you can check on available cache locations here. Make sure you take a treat to leave behind for the next player and don’t get too obsessive about finding it. Remember, the goal isn’t actually the cache, it’s having a great time with your date - without having to spend a cent. 

When to spend money on a date

If there’s one thing you can take away from the list of ideas above, it’s that dating should be a fun, varied experience that brings you closer together. However, there’s always a time when spending a little extra is going to be the right thing to do. If you’re sticking to a budget and going on plenty of cheap dates, make sure you don’t shy away from the occasional special dinner or evening together.

Remember, a budget is there to give you freedom in your finances and your life, and one important part of this is making sure you can spend money when you truly want to - so feel free to buy some roses for your significant other on Valentine’s Day, just don’t do it every weekend! 

Saving Money when Shopping

Store layout and design is a remarkably powerful influencing tool used by almost every retail store and supermarket today. Whether it’s drawing your attention to certain products, or enticing you to buy last-minute items you’d usually avoid, there’s a reason store marketers are paid massive salaries. 

Things such as shelf height, product placement, ease of use and more are taken into account – all for one purpose: To make you spend more money. To resist these marketing temptations, the first step is to understand how they work, and in this section we’ll cover 10 Shopping Tactics That Make You Buy More.

1. Store Location and Layout

The location of certain products is crucial for supermarkets to make you spend more money. The milk will almost certainly be at the back of the layout and will make you walk past easily purchased impulse items such as junk food and bare essentials.

2. Supermarket Checkout Sellers

Visit any supermarket and you’ll generally see the same items next to the checkout: Junk food, cheap magazines, chewing gum, mints and even soft drinks on special. Supermarkets see this as the last chance to really upsell you and see if you want to grab something small for the road.

3. Increasing your appetite with baking

An interesting thing to remember is that smell plays a large part in consumer buying behaviour. Take Starbucks for instance, where a highly popular food item was quickly from the menu as the smell was so good that customers abandoned the idea of coffee - it actually created a sales drop! 

Next time you are in a supermarket and the bakery section is luring you in, just remember it’s there for a reason - don’t let your senses trick you into buying something you don’t need!

4. Boosting your confidence with music

Music plays a fundamental role in making you want to buy something. Department stores will likely be playing soothing music, part of a strategy to slow you down and encourage you to take your time looking at all the items that surround you. 

Supermarkets will play you easy-going hits, ones that make you sing along and feel energised - this is said to increase your chances of impulse buying and moving away from your shopping list. 

Boutique specialty stores will play music that appeals to their direct audience, giving them a sense of belonging. Next time you’re at a sports store, listen out for those classic ‘80s training-montage songs!

5. Visual displays that put you in the picture

Visual merchandisers will purposely set up items to appeal to how you would use them - one visit to IKEA and you’ll see they have the chair you are after situated perfectly at an aesthetically appealing desk - just like your home! 

Suddenly, you can picture the entire setup in your room, and you’ve bought three things you didn’t intend to.

6. Eye-catching designs and bold specials

The human eye is excited by certain colours and shapes, and retailers use this knowledge to draw your attention away from other places you might be looking. 

Attractive displays, bargain signs, special cards and bright, bold designs are designed to make you stop. If you like the look of the item, why not continue shopping and come back later, using the time to decide on your own without the buy-now influence of the advertising.

7. Product placement on shelves

This is one of those ‘once-you-see-it’ tips that will genuinely shock you. Walk through any supermarket and you’ll see the most expensive items situated on the middle shelf - right at eye level. 

Want that more-affordable brand? It might be on the bottom shelf where you have to physically bend to reach it, or on the top shelf where you’d have to crane your neck to notice it at all.

8. Multi-buy offers aren’t always the best bargain

There seems to be a never-ending supply of multi-buy promotions in grocery stores. Buy two bottles of shampoo and get one free. What a bargain - or is it? 

Sometimes the prices are marked up to account for a few dollars of the other item, and you’ll notice the price of the non-special product reduced once the promotion is over. Very sneaky!

9. How much can you fit in your basket?

Have you ever wondered why there are hundreds of neatly displayed trolleys right at the entrance to the store but the baskets are hidden away within the entrance? Convenience, right? 

The truth is, if you’re dragging a trolley around that is very empty, you’ll be more tempted to fill it - the vast amount of empty space influences your brain to believe you’ve forgotten something, like a bag of chips or a box of donuts. 

If you are doing a quick shop, use a basket; it will be lighter, easier to use, and will help you save money!

10. Selling to your taste buds with free samples

Most supermarkets will set up taste-testing booths for new product launches. People go on to buy those products because they either feel a sense of obligation afterward, or because the small sample made them hungry!

It’s much like trying on clothes at a department store, you have the assistant following you around and asking if they can bring you other sizes and more – this relationship though it may feel subtle and helpful is just another sales motive that will help ease you into making a purchase.

Saving Money on Petrol

The final tip to help supercharge your budget planner is our Super Petrol Saving Guide. We’ve already written a special guide on the cheapest day to buy petrol, but if you’d like to learn about how you can cut back on petrol use throughout your year, read on! Reducing petrol usage to save money is probably one of the smartest things you can do as part of your budget plan - here is how you can save money on petrol.

Research which car is going to save you the most petrol

If you buy a car that’s fuel efficient in the first place, you’re going to use less fuel no matter what you do. It doesn’t have to be a Matchbox car - more and more car manufacturers are producing vehicles that are designed to use minimal fuel. Buying a car that suits your purpose is going to save you money in the long run and spending a little extra now to get a more recent model will pay off later. 

If you live in the city and hardly leave town, a hatchback copes best with the stop-start CBD traffic. However, if you frequently drive at high speeds for long periods, the same hatchback will chew through the fuel like nobody’s business and a sedan or 4WD might be better for you. Do your research; you’ll be thankful you did. 

Slow down and drive sensibly

Sounds boring, right? Well, the worst way to consume lots of petrol is by having a lead foot. It is suggested that you slow down, avoid fast acceleration and remember that even if you drive faster to get from Point A to Point B, it still does not get you there quicker. 

Every kilometre per hour faster that you drive forces your car’s engine to work a little bit harder, thus using more petrol. Plus, unless you happen to be driving a sports car designed to travel at super-high speeds, chances are your vehicle is experiencing aerodynamic lag, causing increased petrol consumption as the motor struggles to push your little box on wheels through the air in front of it. 

Stick to the speed limit and your car is using only as much fuel as it needs to. You also avoid that most unhappy of expenses: the speeding fine. 

Fill up with petrol when its cold

Here’s a little high-school chemistry: Liquids expand when heated and contract when cooled. What that means is, if you buy 1L of petrol when it’s hot, the fuel has most likely expanded a bit and as soon as it cools down, it will contract again to say, 0.9L. Basically, if you buy warm petrol, it’s like a soft drink that’s been watered down. Fill up at night or on cooler days to get your money’s worth.

Plan your travel routes to work and cheap petrol station locations

Plan every trip so that you travel the least distance possible and never have to double back. Planning out your trips - for the most direct route, and to the cheapest petrol stations - is essential to saving money. Plot out the most efficient way to cover as much ground as possible - to your work, to the supermarket, to petrol stations, and more - and you’ll see yourself quickly save on petrol, which ultimately means more money in your savings account!

Fuel Watch and Motor Mouth Petrol Watch

Websites such as Fuel Watch and Motor Mouth can help you understand ways to save money on petrol. These websites give an indicator of prices around your local areas and other localities in Australia. These websites not only make it easier to find cheaper fuel, they are soon to be government initiatives so that we as Australians can locate fuel costs not only for the current day, but the cost of petrol for the next few days.

Extra tips to help you save money on petrol

Sometimes it’s best to implement a number of strategies to save money on petrol. Every little bit counts and if you manage to form good habits right away, over the years it will equate to a huge amount of money saved.

  • Ensure your tyre pressure is correct - A deflated tyre, even by a couple of PSI can amount to a 5% loss in fuel and severe safety under-performance by your car. Check your tyres fortnightly to ensure maximum PSI is always in effect. 
  • Lighten your car's weight by removing any unnecessary items - Excess weight is extra energy required to move it, so put the car on a diet and save on fuel. 
  • Use cruise control - When doing long trips, set the control function; it stops you unnecessarily accelerating and using petrol that is effectively useless on the open road. This can save around 5% of your petrol in just 30mins of cruising. 
  • Get to a higher gear quicker - Get to a higher gear in manual cars as quick as possible. This reduces engine use and petrol consumption by moving the car in a more economical gear. 
  • Consider carpooling to reduce petrol - Save money by organising a car pool, maybe only once or twice a week to begin with. Swap driver shifts with your mates for your summer partying season so everyone can be safe, and frugal. 
  • Walk instead, it will save you money - Instead of jumping in the car every time we head to the shops, why not walk instead? If you live reasonably close to your workplace, why not get up half an hour earlier and walk in? You’ll get all your recommended exercise (for free) and save on huge amounts of petrol. Frugality is about changing our unconscious routines, and all those small trips in the car can add up to some significant savings. 
  • Use credit card gift rewards to buy petrol - If you have rewards with your credit card, think about using it for petrol gift cards. Rewards are fun to use for new gadgets and appliances, but using them for petrol is a great way to add some space into your budget and really make your credit card rewards work for you. 
  • Reduce your air conditioning, it uses up petrol - That air-conditioner in your car is using petrol. In fact, all of the accessories are, but none are guzzling the juice like that little cooling system. Take your jacket off and roll the windows down if you’re hot in the car and save the air con for those stinking hot days. Put the windows down. Leave the air conditioning off. This does not make a huge difference, but can help save between 4-5% of petrol in your tank.

Service your car regularly to save on petrol

It might seem counterproductive to saving money, but it’s important you get your vehicle serviced regularly. If something’s not quite right with your pride and joy, get it looked at by a professional.

Slightly flat tyres can cost you up to 6% extra on your petrol bill throughout a year. The same is true of stressed engines, or cars running at a reduced capacity. Pull out your user manual and check out your maintenance schedule. 

Talk to your mechanic about how best to maintain your car and make sure you keep a good eye on oil changes and fluid levels. It’s a simple thing, and takes basically no time, yet the potential savings are significant. 

What is the best way to save money on petrol?

If you’ve made it to the end of this section, we’ve got the ultimate tip on how to save money on petrol - proven by Wheels Magazine and personally tested to help cut down on more than half of your petrol bill! 

The ultimate way to save money on petrol? Avoid rush hour and don’t drive in peak traffic. Peak hour and grid-lock can result in using 1/4 of your tank for each hour you spend in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Try leaving for work an hour earlier each day, car pool as much as you can and also try and leave work a little bit later so you can get all your work done, catch up on your emails and avoid the rush.