Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)
It’s the shortest month of the year so what better time to make a change and save some money? We’ve got three tips for each of the next four weeks to help those dollars pile up in Frugal February.
Week 1 – the same lifestyle for less
In week one, we’re easing you into the swing of saving with some good financial habits to get you into a new frame of mind without giving anything up – yet…
1. Cash only – starting now, stash your credit card in a safe place and use only cash for all your purchases. Tap and go is quick and easy, but it also tends to make us more blasé about our budget. When you find yourself hitting the ATM twice in one weekend for shopping and entertainment, you’re more likely to watch what you’re spending.
2. $50 fun – think of at least four activities you can do – on your own or with friends and family, that cost $50 or less. It could be a low-cost gardening project, heading off on a hike or paying for a group lesson to learn something new. Just remember to include snacks or food in your plans and costing – a café pit stop or takeaway could quickly blow your $50 budget.
3. Swap and save – beauty, books, clothes, appliances, if it’s something you spend on, try swapping instead. Clothes are an obvious choice, but if you and your friends have a weakness for cookbooks or games, try organising a big swap party to grow your collection.
Week 2 – be food wise (and fuel your bank balance too)
Take some time this week to put the spotlight on how you eat and save money along the way.
1. Lose the lattes (long blacks, flat whites and macchiatos too) – however you drink it, at four dollars-a-cup, takeaway coffee is a daily indulgence that can quickly add up. Pre-pandemic, Aussies were well known for spending an average $1144 a year on takeaway coffee! That dropped to $728 ($14 a week) in 2020. So if you changed your habits last year, think about whether it’s something you can live without.
2. Ditch the takeaway and cook in bulk – ready meals and takeaway can feel like a time saver, but the convenience is costing us $1976 a year, according to Suncorp’s annual Cost of Food report. Instead, try cooking bulk meals using a few key staples like flour, pasta, rice, legumes and potatoes and store the leftovers in the freezer. You’ll quickly see the savings roll in.
3. Purge the pantry (and the fridge) – a lot of households keep enough stuff in the cupboards and fridge to last for weeks, perhaps months. How much could you save simply by living off what you already have instead of shopping for groceries this week?
Week 3 – entertainment that’s lighter on your pocket
1. Dine at home – like many COVID-19 led changes, our spending on dining out halved last year, from $54 down to $27. You could save yourself $1404 a year just by sticking to this new, lower spending limit. So why not make a meal of your home cooking for family and friends?
2. High and dry – with the pubs shut for long periods, Aussies splashed out an extra $2 billion on household alcohol last year, according to Finder analysis of ABS data. That’s really no surprise, given 20 per cent of us increased our drinking over the lockdown months. No wonder giving up alcohol is a popular challenge taken up for Febfast! Whether you pocket your savings, or choose to donate it, you’re going to feel better after a month without drinking.
3. Give Uber the elbow – whether you’re staying sober, staying home or both, there’s really no need for you to be using Ubers this month. Delete the app from your phone so you’ll be less tempted to use it when you’re in a rush to get home!
Week 4 – big expenses, even bigger savings
1. Pay less for your mobile/electricity/insurance – if you’ve been with the same provider for a while, for any of these services, there’s a good chance that shopping around for a new deal can save you a significant amount across the year.
Read more: Top negotiating tips to cut your bills now
2. Holiday for free – With international travel off the cards, house sitting or swapping locally are good ways to enjoy a getaway without shelling out for a hotel room. If you don’t have a home that’s Air BnB ready or appealing to swappers, get on to websites like https://www.happyhousesitters.com.au for housesitting opportunities in Australia. Add link
3. Ditch your debt – whether it’s taking a year or two off the mortgage or saying goodbye to credit card balances, make this your month to find smarter ways of living with your liabilities. The amount you’ll save on the overall cost of borrowing can be substantial when you take steps to pay off your loans faster.
Looking for more ways to save? Get tips to prevent overspending or set yourself up with a flexi-budget for the new year.