Are you trying to save for a house or a holiday or just trying to save in general? Do you get to the end of the week and wonder how you spent so much money?
I don't know about you but there seems to be something on every weekend and lately the social events have trickled into my week nights also. It's expensive to keep up with not only having to buy presents but to go out for dinner or drinks as well.
It's at that time of the year where the downhill slide to Christmas brings birthdays, parties, work events, family events and then I find myself a week from Christmas and haven't bought a single thing!
I've decided to share some tips on how to save money and inject some life into the skinny money tree in your backyard.
Grow a herb garden I went to the Caboolture markets a few weeks ago and bought 10 seedlings at 25c each. Plant them in some pots, a Styrofoam Box or your yard with little bit of potting mix from Bunnings for $3. I bought a selection of baby spinach, coriander, chives, parsley etc. Now, after a couple of weeks, I can make salads or add to soups and dishes without having to buy these extras. That cuts back on my veggie shopping but gives me something to do in the afternoons and weekends. If you have the space, you can also grow things like strawberries, tomatoes etc.
Shop at fruit shops or markets for produce I like to go to the Rocklea Twilight markets on a Wednesday night for my fruit and veggies. Open until 7.30pm, the vendors are friendly and the produce is fresh. You'll find a lot of the fruit and veggies here are a lot cheaper than the big supermarkets as it is coming straight from the farmers.
I also go shopping at Inala for fruit, veggies and meat. The fruit and veggies are very cheap, you only have to go into the Woolworths or Coles in the actual shopping centre to compare just how cheap they are. Bananas and mandarins were about $1.20 a kilo when I went there on the weekend. The meat there is pretty good too and there are three butchers to choose from. I got T-Bone steak there for $9 a kilo and sausages $5 a kilo last weekend. I also pick up my dog bones there for about $1.50 a kilo and that also saves on getting the bones from the supermarkets.
Buy and sell on eBay
I have to say, I'm a little bit addicted to eBay. I went through ONE room in my house and found books, clothes, shoes and little bits and pieces - things that I've never used and forgotten about. Hubby went through the shed in the back yard (as I threatened to do it) and came up with some tools he has since upgraded, a couple of vintage chairs and some odds and ends. People buy anything and you never know if you'll sell something until you list it. Whilst garage sales are good, they tend to last all day and I feel a bit funny about strangers coming up to my house and pawing through my things. eBay is good in the fact that it's easy to use, impersonal and you can get rid of things quickly.
On the flipside it's fantastic for presents during birthdays and Christmas. You don't have that hassle of finding a car park, waiting in line at the register only to be served by a rude teenager and then you have to battle your way out the shopping centre with all your purchases only to realise you've forgotten where you've parked your car. You'll find that things are a lot cheaper online than they are in the store and I always make sure that I'm buying from Australian sellers so it still supports our economy as well. I usually use eBay for presents like candles, toys, little gadgets etc.
Plan your meals and shop smarter
Make sure you plan your meals ahead of time and try to stick to it. Sit down on your usual shopping day and write a budget and a list of what you need for the week plus the meals you are going to make. That way you can look at the list and remind yourself that you have a plan for the week and you're going to stick to it. Make the meals fun and different - I love these websites for different meals and always find inspiration - www.taste.com.au and www.mindfood.com . Another good website is www.gojee.com – you just put in your ingredients and it will find you a dish to make.
Don't shop when you're hungry either as well as it makes you buy unnecessary (and often fatty) food that you'll later regret.
Also watch out for great 'sales' in the supermarket aisles as it's not always the cheapest. Have a look at the ticket and compare how much is it per 100g or 100ml. An example is the dog food I normally buy is around 40c per 100g but sometimes they have a sales on the smaller tins and make it 5 for $10. But if you check the price tag it will say it's 42c for 100g. I know this is nit picky but ever since I started doing this my grocery bill has cut down.
Don't be afraid to shop in different places as well. You can save more money by doing your shopping separately. For example, I can get all my meat, fruit and veg from the markets and bread from the bakery and condiments from a big supermarket. I can get the household things like washing powder, detergent etc from a discount store like the Reject Shop. I save a lot of money by shopping in different places.
You have to negotiate with yourself around certain things when you're trying to save money. Do you need to really buy 3 take away coffees each day? Based on most places that could be anywhere up to $15 per day! And do you need to go out for lunch or buy take away every day or every second day? I wrote down how much I was spending a day and was a shocked at how much money I was wasting. I now only have one take away coffee every two days and make coffee at work using the machine or my little plunger.
On bigger things, should you really buy those shoes or jacket because it's on sale? How often will you really wear it? I sometimes go on websites like ASOS and have a look at the items, add the ones I want to the shopping cart and then go back through and justify whether I need that item or not. About 99% of the time I end up with an empty shopping cart and I honestly don't remember the items I 'wanted' the next day. It's all about wants and needs and identifying whether it's crucial to have it or not. It's hard to negotiate with yourself the first few times but after that it gets easier.
And to be honest, do I really need MORE stuff if I found heaps of things I never used in one room of my house?
Everyone loves birthdays, parties, gatherings, catch ups etc. But sometimes you need to either compromise on the event or even just say no. A lot of our friends have these huge birthday parties, book dinner and then have drinks afterwards. Do one or the other – you don't always have to do both. Dinner usually costs anywhere up to $30 per person, plus people add sides or bottles of wine and when the check comes someone is usually short for money or you all decide to divide it evenly. Then you go out, have drinks, pay for a cab home or (if you're driving) drop people home. Overall it all ends up costing a fair bit.
Make sure you compromise on what you go to and how often. If you're seeing a friend that weekend for her birthday, is it necessary to go out with them for dinner a few days before hand as well? Will your friend really mind if you can't make dinner but can make drinks? If they are your friends they'll understand where you're coming from. A friend of mine had her birthday recently and we had a BBQ and everyone brought a plate along and their own drinks. Overall it didn't cost nearly as much as it would if we all went out, had dinner and drinks afterwards. Plus the nice thing was that everyone either lived close or stayed the night that way there was no large cab fares.
Also on the present-giving side, go halves or quarters with friends on something you think the person will really want – that way you save not only money but you give a really thoughtful gift.
Give time not money
Sometimes people want your time and not necessarily your money. That may sound ridiculous but in some cases it's true. If I haven't seen a friend in a few months am I right in buying her a huge pressie for her birthday to make up for it, or will she like it more if I book out a whole day with her to do something fun? It can be something simple like kicking back at the beach, having a high tea brunch, going to the markets, going for a drive etc. On the other hand, with family members or partners, time is even more valuable than money. A friend of mine recently did a 'old-haunts' tour around Brisbane for her brother's birthday and they visited all the places they used to hang out at when they were younger. It was a great surprise for him and they had a lot of fun remembering the funny things that had happened back then.
One of the funniest and enjoyable afternoons I had was with my hubby, parents, brother and some friends. We sat on the veranda having coffee and nibbles and playing celebrity heads. It sounds silly but it was just nice to be doing something simple yet memorable instead of going out for a lavish meal.
Hopefully my little tips will help you save money, change your perspective on what you spend on or just give you some ideas of your own.
Do you have any other tips that have helped you with saving?