One of my personal philosophies has always been that the less you spend on Item A, the more you'll have left over for Item B. While I love to shop, sometimes its nice to just sit back and let your savings grow. Here are a few easy ways to save, without changing your lifestyle too much:
1. Transport If you're a working gal like me, you understand the costs of commuting everyday can really add up. In Sydney, the cheapest option (although not always the easiest) is public transport, particularly pre-paid tickets. For instance, by buying a MyBus3 pre-paid ticket (valid for ten trips, averaging $3.60 a trip), I save over $500 a year in going to work (based on the normal ticket price of $4.60). So, while I technically save $1 each way, over a year the savings can really add up.
For train users, make sure you take advantage of the Family Funday Sunday offer. As long as you're travelling with children, you can purchase tickets for $2.50 each, valid for unlimited use on all Sydney transport on Sundays. Why not take advantage of these great prices and enjoy the city and the beaches?
2. Entertainment Since I discovered it last year, I haven't been able to put it down. What am I talking about? The Entertainment Book of course.
Filled with vouchers for everything from restaurants to hotels, to experiences (such as bowling, whale watching, movie vouchers etc), you can easily save a fortune. The book costs $65, and currently there are three for Sydney (one for the Eastern Suburbs and CBD, one for the Northern Suburbs, and the other for the Western Suburbs and Hawkesbury region). While some may not like the idea of paying for a book of vouchers, they are valid for a year, meaning there is plenty of time to use them, and you can easily pay off your investment. Example: at a dinner costing over $200, we used a voucher that entitled us to 25% off, thus saving $50 in one night. For those of us that like to go out frequently this book is definitely a great way to save money.
3. Books If you like to read as much as I do (and that is really saying something), then the one thing you need to do is join a library. Yes buying books is great, particularly if you're planning on re-reading them, but if you're always reading new material, then you can't really buy a new book every week (millionaires need not read any further). For a membership fee of around $15 annually, you can read the greatest feats of literature (and some not so great ones) as often as you like.
4. Upcycling For those of us that have a creative streak, upcycling is one of the most fun and inexpensive ways to decorate your house. Similar to the idea of recycling, upcycling involves taking an existing product, and re-purposing it for another use. For example, by cleaning out tin cans and painting them in funky colours, you have a handy way to store pens and other small objects. Old teacups have many uses – fill them with birdseeds and put them outside to make an easy bird feeder. Or, if you are skilled at candle-making, fill the tea-cup with candlewax to turn it into an easy candle holder.
For a full list of upcycling ideas, why not check out these blogs and try your hand at DIY?
Ok, so this tip only works if you're a java junkie, but if there's one thing I learnt when I first started budgeting, it's that every dollar counts. I used to buy a coffee on my way to work every morning at around $3.50 a cup, averaging $17.50 every week (that's nearly $800 every year)... not counting any afternoon coffee runs or any 'catching up with friends' coffees. When I found a great deal for a coffee machine and frother last year for $179, I immediately bought it. A year and a half later, and the only thing I need to buy is coffee beans every now and then. If you love your coffee, buy a coffee machine. It might seem expensive now, but it's an investment that pays itself off quickly.
There's nothing more enjoyable than saving money without even trying (well, without trying too hard). Enjoy your hard-saved moolah.