Looking to travel more this year? Turn your ultimate holiday from a pipe dream into reality by hitting your money-saving goals with these five easy tips.
Bring lunch to work
This really is a no-brainer. Buying lunch in the CBD will easily set you back $10-20, compared to a home-cooked meal which costs around $2-4 per serve. A conservative calculation shows that by packing lunch, you can easily save over $60 every week (or $3,000 per year) without even breaking a sweat. Not a fan of sandwiches? Just cook larger quantities for dinner and bring the leftovers to work!
Minimise your wardrobe
The average Australian throws a whopping 23 kilograms of clothing and textiles into landfill each year. What’s worse, we’re also buying 27 kilograms of new clothing every year—in monetary terms, that’s, on average, $2,288 spent on clothes and shoes annually! Before making another purchase, some obvious questions to ask are: “Do I already own something similar?”; “Can I match this with my pre-existing wardrobe?”; and “How often will I actually wear it?”. Invest in quality clothes that you’ll re-wear for at least two years, and don’t buy into the fashion industry’s obsession with “new season” trends.
Re-examine your phone plan
When was the last time you shopped around for a phone plan? And how much of your included data are you getting through each month? While it might have seemed reasonable to pay $50 or $60 per month 10 years ago, today’s prepaid phone plans are offering a lot of value for a little money. For $25 or less, you can find plans which include unlimited national calls and texts, plus up to 2.5GB of data. Check out your mobile account statement to find out how much you’re actually using, and only pay for what you need.
Weekly grocery shopping should be a highly predictable exercise. Always create a shopping list before heading off (remember: impulse purchases can ruin otherwise responsible budgets) and avoid going shopping while hungry. Apart from replenishing staples such as bread, milk, detergent and toilet paper, a little flexibility and creativity can really help to cut costs. Check out the major supermarkets’ weekly specials and try to plan your meals around any bargains you find there. (As an added bonus, this method lets you try a range of new ingredients and recipes without having to splurge.)
Eat less meat
For those who do their own shopping and cooking, it should come as no surprise that meat is one of the most expensive items on your plate. One easy way to cut costs is to choose meals which use meat more economically. For example, a chilli con carne or bolognese may require 500 grams of minced beef (which costs roughly $6) to feed four people, while a small scotch fillet steak for four costs around $26. Where appropriate, try substituting the meat with cheap-as-chips tofu (roughly $5/kg at Asian grocery stores), or explore vegetarian recipes such as bean nachos, pizzas, curries, and roasted vegetable salads.