How to start saving money
Generally, there are two major kinds of unsustainable purchase behaviours. Either, or both, is harmful to your ability to live comfortably within your income and still save money:
- Spending too much on necessities
- Spending money on things you don’t need
The goal here is learning to get better value for your money. Look to constantly find a better price to save you money on things like:
- Grocery shopping
How much is your vice costing you?
|Smoking||If you smoke a pack a day, your smoking is costing more than $12,000 per year|
|Drinking||The average Australian spends more than $1,650 per year on alcohol|
|Junk food||Around 27% of our household food expenditure is spent on food outside the home|
|Coffee||Purchasing a $5 coffee each day can add up to $1,825 per year|
How to get value for your money
There are countless guides online which cover how to save money, and they’re all effective in their own way. Generally, they include tips and advice on how to save in small amounts, which can then add up to long-term savings. However, the majority of these guides are highly restrictive to living a full and free life.
If you’ve made it this far on our journey together, you’ll appreciate that this guide is not about learning to survive - it’s about learning to live well. If you’re prepared to put in the work, this guide will help you save money for the rest of your life.
- Learn to cook a basic meal plan
- Find a good local butcher
- Find a good local fruit and vegetable store
- Find a quality supermarket
- Find a discount supermarket
- Learn about clothing fabric
- Use coupons wisely
- Learn to sew and patch clothes
- Keep your home tidy and free of mould
- Use LED lighting where possible
- Use water efficiently when washing plates or showering
- Mow your own lawns and learn to garden
- Find accounts with low or no fees
- Always remove paper statements
- Avoid minimum-deposit accounts
- Avoid ATM fees from other banks
- Choose the right credit card for your situation
- Always compare your loan options to consolidate your debts
Best way to save money on bills
If you do not pay your bill on time, you will be charged a late fee. This fee can range from $10 to $50 depending on the company and the bill. You may also be charged a fee by your bank if you have set up direct debits.
Manage your bills in four simple steps:
- Firstly, list all monthly bills and every outgoing payment
- List the bills from each month and double-check you haven’t forgotten anything
- List your bills by frequency - weekly, fortnightly, monthly
- Check each invoice to see how many days you have until payment is due
Next, group your bill payments into separate groups:
- Bills less than $100 - set up automatic payments
- Bills between $100 - $500 - set up a calendar reminder and double-check payments
- Bills greater than $500 - set up automatic payments and use a calendar reminder
Establishing how many days you have until payment is due will allow you to set reminders closer to the time, and let you hold on to your money for as long as possible.
Best way to save money on food
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. 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.
- As little as $5 a day can add up to over $1,000 across a year.
How much you can save by making your own lunch
|Daily lunch spend||Yearly cost|
$4,800 deposited in a high-interest saver account at a rate of 5% interest would equate to $68,193 in savings after ten years.
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 vs the cost to make at home.
Costs of buying lunch vs making your own lunch
|Lunch food||Cost to buy||Cost to make||Savings|
Biggest price differences in store-brand vs brand name products
- Toilet paper
- Cleaning products
- Canned foods
Best way to save money on shopping
Asking for a discount can potentially save you thousands, depending on the item you are after. The greater the margin on a product, the more room the salesperson has to move on price. The more you know about the true price of an item, the better position you will be in to negotiate for a discount.
Here are just some of the products you can easily haggle a better price for:
- Cars and motorbikes
- Consumer electronics (e.g. TVs and entertainment items)
- Whiteware (e.g. fridges, freezers, dryers, washing machines)
- Furniture and household appliances
- Cameras (especially camera accessories)
- Items from market stalls
- Warranties and delivery charge
Top 4 tips for negotiating a discount in-store
- Get the discounted price in writing
- Floor stock makes haggling easier
- Tell the salesperson you are ready to buy - now
- Ask for a deal-sweetener
The biggest concerns for many people when asking for a discount is looking cheap and the shame of being denied. Why do we not view it as a way of being wise with money instead?
This is a tactic used in business, and by great salespeople, and why? Because they’re using your sense of status to influence your decisions.
Your biggest mantra when saving money and haggling is: If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Best way to save money on petrol
- Ensure your tyre pressure is correct
- Consider carpooling to reduce petrol
- Use credit card gift rewards to buy petrol
- Reduce your air conditioning
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.
Cheap Petrol In Major Australian Cities Comparison Table
|Cycle length||25 days||28 days||26 days||18 days||7 days|
|Most expensive day||Tuesday||Thursday||Wednesday||Saturday||Tuesday|
|Average price per litre||$1.60||$1.65||$1.70||$1.70||$1.55|
Times of the year when petrol is most expensive
|Period||When to buy petrol|
|Long weekends||Tuesday or Wednesday before|
|Public holidays||Week before|
|Major holiday periods||Week before|
Compare Petrol Stations in Australia
There are 11 major petrol and service stations across Australia, and each of these petrol providers ranks differently for a number of different customer-related factors. In the table below, we’ll show you:
- Top 5 Petrol Stations for Cheapest Petrol
- Top 5 Petrol Stations for Service Quality
- Top 5 Petrol Stations for Overall Customer Satisfaction
Best Petrol Stations in Australia Comparison
|Ranking||Cheapest petrol||Service quality||Customer satisfaction|
|#3||Metro Petroleum||BP||Puma Energy|
|#5||United||Coles Express||Metro Petroleum|
Case Study: Daily Deals
Daily Deal websites are promotional sales websites offering discounts on certain products:
- They rely on group-buying to ‘activate’ a special deal at a special price
- They operate on a limited time basis - 24 hours - before you ‘miss out’ forever
- The offers are designed to lure you into impulse spending
Sometimes the offers are truly amazing and really can save you good money. Some examples of Daily Deal websites include:
- Cudo (www.cudo.com.au)
- Catch of the Day (www.catchoftheday.com.au)
- Ouffer (www.ouffer.com)
- Our Deal (www.ourdeal.com.au)
- Spreets (www.spreets.com.au)
Before jumping into a daily deal offer, there are a few things you should consider:
- Are you buying out of boredom and impulsivity?
- Do you need the product?
- Are you taking the deal for the product, or for the experience of the retailer?
- Are there conditions on how you can redeem the deal?
Deals are designed to support businesses during slow periods and on quiet days when any money is better than no money. This means you’ll rarely get the same experience with a deal that you would if paying full price.
Check the amount of money you’d usually spend on the product in your Budget Planner Spreadsheet.
When is a Daily Deal offer really worth it?
When you truly need what is on sale. In other words, if you were already looking for that product, dinner deal, spa package or item in that same week.
Saving money is about freeing up cash flow; here are some practical ways to free up some extra cash to boost your budgeting and savings strategy:
- Learn to save on everything - So start questioning and challenging your expenses, daily expenses and anything that costs money. Challenge yourself to find a better deal, to find creative ways not to spend the money and more.
- Buy used products and save money - Before buying brand-new, spend some time searching for quality second-hand products.
- Take good care of your belongings - Take time out of your week to simply clean, maintain and properly love the belongings that have cost you money.
- Track your spending - Try to track every expense for a month.
- Cut your grocery bill in half - Just for one week, commit to spending only half of what you would usually spend.
- Plan your meals - A meal plan will reduce your spending significantly, especially if you work around groceries already in your fridge.
- Have a no-spend month - Choose an item you spend a lot of money on - shoes or concert tickets - and commit to not spending any money on it for a month.
- Save today and earn interest tomorrow - Depositing even $5 into a high-interest savings account today is one more day you can earn interest on your money.
Top 4 tips to start saving money when you’re broke
- Automatically deduct your savings from your paycheck each week
- Spend only cash
- Increase your tax and super contributions
- Find a savings support buddy
Top 4 reasons to save money
This might seem blatantly obvious, but here are a couple of reasons to get your motivation up for saving money:
- You feel good. We often underestimate the stress and anxiety in our lives that come from not having enough money to comfortably cope with change.
- You feel in control. No one can run your life but you, and you can make the choice and change the behaviours that enable you to run it efficiently and sustainably.
- You enjoy what you have. Saving isn’t about how much you earn, but how smart you are with your money. If you want an instant pay rise, reducing your spending can give you one straight away - or learn to negotiate a pay rise.
- You choose your life. By reducing your spending, and consequently improving your savings, you get to choose the kind of life you want to lead, now and in the future. By reducing spending, you can choose to have a comfortable retirement, enough money to manage the inevitable crises of day-to-day life, and afford the things that truly matter.
Saving money can become a game, a game which is fun to play and has an exciting outcome. Here are some ideas you could incorporate:
- Have a competition on who can save $500 the fastest
- See who can spend the least in a working week
- Challenge each other to sell the most stuff in a garage sale
- Keep your balance even - round down the change in your bank account and transfer it into a savings account.
The goal is to motivate yourself by working with others in a competitive but fun way - it also helps to simply state your money-saving goals to them. Tell them how much you need to save and how you will do it; see if they want to do the same and then check in with one another to monitor progress.
Saving money can be a daunting endeavour - the idea of becoming frugal and forcing yourself to reduce your spending is not always a fun task.
Learn to find value for your money, and soon you’ll not only end up with money in your account, but an opportunity to begin properly saving, depositing money, and taking control of your finances.
If you're looking for ways to increase your wealth, you can learn more about how to make money.