Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
I don't know about you, but money seems to be tight for us lately and we have had to find ways to save without stopping what we enjoy doing. There are always things that can be done cheap or free that are enjoyable and if not more enjoyable because you know you haven't spent a fortune on doing it.
There's nothing worse than going to an expensive winery, spending half of your weekly home loan repayment and leave with nothing more than a half full stomach and feeling like all you need an afternoon sleep from being sedentary in a warm environment.
As for me, I would much prefer going for a bush walk and having a picnic along the way. The scenery is better, you don't need to spend anything more than a few dollars from the local bakery and some petrol if you need to drive to the starting point. I love finding different places to walk each weekend, stopping at various small towns and to look at their local markets.
National parks and gardens are free, so they're a great option for picnics and to explore.
If you're saving for a special occasion then I have some tips on some easy ways to save money. As an example, 1 coffee a day at $3.20 costs $1,168 annually and a $12 lunch 5 times a week for a year is $3,120. If you were to make your lunch 3 times a week and buy it twice a week instead, you would save $1,872.
If you are paying off a home loan, pay it weekly instead of monthly. It saves thousands in interest over the span of the loan and in our case reduced a 30 year loan to an 18 year loan just by paying it off weekly, as interest is charged on a daily basis. If you can afford to put a little extra than the minimum repayments then this will also save you money in interest.
Credit cards are the worst for trying to save money. It makes it too easy to put things on the credit card and think my wage is coming in next Wednesday and I will be able to pay it back then. When Wednesday comes you have had more bills and now the credit card needs to be repaid and you can't so it keeps accumulating with interest at around 18% and more in some cases.
If you can't pay a credit card off each month then chop it up, it's costing you too much, so get a card that only uses your own savings.
This is really basic but write down every thing you buy or spend money on, from your train ticket to your car registration, it will give you a good overview at what you spend money on.
Don't buy things just because it was on sale or too cheap to refuse. Nothing is a bargain unless you really need it. People get in a lot of credit card debt because of 'sales'.
If you're after something in particular that you know will come on sale, then wait for it. With so many stores and online shopping it's easy to compare prices and get a great deal.
Make sure you shop around for the best phone and internet plan to suit you, same goes with gas, electricity, grocery shopping, anything that is a big regular cost to your budget.
Have an account that you can put a little bit of money into each week, usually out of sight out of mind and when you can't see it then it slowly adds up and this can be for a nice night away, or a holiday.
Kids activities are another expensive area you can save on, some people I know have their kids in every activity imaginable because they don't want them to 'miss out'. They are not extremely well off and the children seem to be exhausted and not interested in going, but the parents continue to spend at least $15 per child 5 days a week for lessons of some variety. So for 2 children it's $150 a week in activities.
If you broke it down to two activities a week you save $90 a week.
Cars are another big expense to buy, maintain, running costs and loss on resale all need to be considered.
Unless you're in a position to claim your cars expenses on tax, don't get a big loan for a car or better still try and avoid a loan altogether. Cars are definitely not an investment, unless they are rare. You may not look cool in the school car park but at least you own it and not the bank .
go on public transport. It is $7 a day, but if you buy the zone 1 monthly it is $4 a day ($120 per month). Therefore it is saving you from the ridiculous $15 for parking in the city.
Go prepaid on the mobile. With that you can control how much you spend each month
Wait until your next pay rise, if its too hard to do today.....We have opened up an offset account thats linked to the home loan. $50 each week goes via direct debit into this account. because it goes direct you dont see it therefore you dont miss it. We started it when we got a pay rise so it wasnt even cutting into our daily living. it saves $2600 each year which we use for our holidays. Plus its saves interest off the home loan. The account doesnt have atm card access, only internet access, therefore we cant access it easily and waste it away. We have to manually transfer it into the savings account when we go on holidays. We have done this for about 5 years now and its great. The holidays are stress free and credit card free. we also have a jar for coins, every night before you go to bed you empty all the coins out of your pocket. Sometimes its just 5 or 10 cents but other times it can be $10. You will be suprised by how much you can save in a few months. If your partnered up and you both do it, its even better. If you do get into a jam with the cash flow you can then raid the coin jar for the $1 and $2 coins without having to touch the credit card or bank account. It has been very successful for us. I hope these ideas can be of help to someone else.