Spent too much over Christmas? Here's a few easy tips to save and get you back on track in the New Year.
1. Set up automatic savings accounts While most people have one savings account, why not set up a few (holiday, Christmas, birthdays), and deposit $20 a week into each account and only access the money once the event comes around? That's less than $10 a day, which is less than the cost of a coffee and sandwich for lunch. At the end of the year, you will have $1040 in each account to spend.
2. Write a shopping list
Always write a shopping list before going grocery shopping, and don't shop when you're hungry. These are two simple rules that will save you from compulsive buying. Pre-plan weekly dinners, lunches and snacks, then shop accordingly. Eating meals made at home saves a significant amount of money. If you need to wean yourself off eating out, try buying lunch twice a week to start. Shop for in season produce at markets, and use discount coupons at supermarkets.
3. Track your expenses Track your expenses on a spreadsheet, or by saving receipts. At the end of the month, sit down as a family and talk about where you are spending and what you can cut down. Simple ways to save on monthly bills include buying generic brand medicines, no frills brand pasta and sauces, fruit and vegetables in season, and less packaged foods. You can also save on energy bills by reducing the air-conditioner temperature by 2 degrees, switching off power when not in use, and washing full load in the dishwasher and washing machine.
4. Start a kitty Remember when you shared a flat and everyone chipped in $5-$10 to pay bills? Why not continue the habit? Place loose change in a jar and at the end of the week use the money to buy produce at markets, coffees out, or use the change for parking meters.
5. Invite your friends over Almost every activity at home is less expensive than going out. Invite friends over for dinner and drinks instead of going out to a restaurant or bar. If space is limited, have a potluck meal, or a picnic or a BBQ at a local park or beach. Everyone will have fun, the cost will be low, and the others will likely reciprocate.
Do you have other tips on saving money? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments section!