Often, it’s the changes in the big expenses that can have the greatest impact on your budget – insurance premiums, mortgage repayments, etc. I fully recommended taking a day to see how much you can save on these payments by switching to another provider, or at least threatening to, to make your current provider lower their price (Scott Pape from The Barefoot Investor has a word-for-word script in his book – this isn’t an affiliate, I just really love the things Barefoot has to say).
The small things, however, can be just as effective in bringing you in under budget each month without sacrificing the things you enjoy. Hopefully, this list contains a suggestion or two that you hadn’t thought of previously – let’s dig in to 7 Simple Switches to Save You Money!
Find Discount Coffee
Not “Give Up Takeout Coffee So You Can Afford a House” (though buying coffee each day adds years to your mortgage) I’m not a madman, and I love coffee as much as the next sleep-deprived parent. Coffee is a necessity in my life and while I’m still working on my budget, take-away coffee is an ultimate treat when I’m out and about.
That being said, paying full-price for coffee stings and I’ve found several coffee houses do weekly or monthly “happy hours” to attract budget-savvy customers like me through the door.
One of the local coffee houses near my office does Thirsty Thursday in the first week of each month, and it’s a ritual of mine to wander down and partake in a large skinny cappuccino for $3 flat. Another does happy hour DAILY between 9AM and 10AM and practically gives away any size coffee for $3.50. Sold! I found both these deals (and others) by following the social media pages of my local coffee houses.
Would I still pay full-price for a coffee? Potentially, if there wasn’t another option. I’m certainly not running out for a coffee every morning (not since my husband gifted me my gorgeous Frank Green reusable cup and I have hot coffee for hours after I get to work). This simple switch makes it a little easier to part with my hard-earned coin on an irregular basis and get a luxurious treat from it at the same time.
Counter-intuitive, right? In this instance, I mean for your groceries. Woolworths and Coles both offer online shopping and it has changed the way many do their weekly grocery haul. Sitting down in front of your computer means you are immune to impulse buys and those darn yellow Half-Price tickets you see in-store (I’m a sucker for these!). You can use the search bar to add exactly what you need to your cart and avoid everything else.
The running total in the top corner also helps you keep an eye on your spending as you do, instead of getting a shock at the checkout. It’s also easy to compare unit prices on items – you can even sort items by their unit prices – another way to save some money, particularly if you can get a good deal on bulk items you use regularly.
Grow Some Herbs
While we’re on the subject of supermarkets, let’s do a quick tip on one of the biggest money-sucks known to man: fresh herbs. They’re stupidly cheap to buy as seedlings (even cheaper to buy as seeds and grow from scratch) and don’t require much more than some sunlight and regular watering.
Voila! You have a never-ending supply of fresh, FREE, herbs for your cooking! As a bonus, herbs look gorgeous planted in pots on your windowsill and guests will be super impressed to see you chop up a little home-grown flavor for your famous spaghetti bol.
This one might not apply to everyone, but having two bubs in nappies I know disposables are a big regular expense. They’re also shocking for the environment, but that’s a topic for another time. At the moment, we mostly use disposable nappies for our babies.
However, I’ve collected some Modern Cloth Nappies (MCNs) that you throw in the washing machine and re-use, and they are brilliant! While we’re hanging out at home, I will throw one of these on each of my kids and essentially save myself $1 on average (Huggies ain’t cheap). Add that up over 2-3 years of being in nappies PER KID.
MCNs cost about $30 upfront, but are as reliable as disposables and very easy to clean. Over time, there is a big money-saving factor (not to mention the environmental one) and they look so cute!
If everyday use isn’t for you, consider a reusable swim nappy – we have used the same $20 reusable swim nappy for my daughter for two years while she does swimming lessons and saved ourselves a small fortune in disposable swim nappies. Considering she’s only in the pool for 30 minutes at a time it’s been well worth the cost!
This point is a big change for any of us who are currently card-wielding cowboys but making the switch from all digital to cold, hard cash for discretionary expenditures, such as the odd takeaway lunch or a trip to the shops, tends to make the spending more “real”. It gives you a very clear idea of how much cash you have left to spend and can make you rethink an impulse purchase.
While I’ve only just begun tiptoeing down the cash envelope road myself, I have already discovered that the simple act of handing over cash makes the transaction feel almost sacred, and it gives me a little pang to part with my hard-earned dollars.
Track Your Spending
If you don’t already, this single swap will make you more aware of your spending and all the little places dollars are slipping away. Many experts believe that making a note of where your money goes is the number one way to better your saving habits. Being able to look back on your spending at the end of the week or fortnight (or month or year, once you get the habit going) gives you incredible insight into the true cost of your life.
You can use good, old-fashioned pen and paper to write down your spending in your planner, or make use of an app on your smartphone (I’m a lover of Goodbudget). Ultimately, your financial situation is constantly being brought to your attention as you track your expenses as you go, which is a good thing!
Turn Off Your TV
When you’re finally sitting down after a long day, do you find yourself turning on the TV and mindlessly scrolling through your phone, regardless of whether or not something interesting is on either? Having the TV on in the background is a major energy (think, money) suck and we all know there is some serious rubbish available for viewing at any given time.
Why not save your brain cells as well as your hip-pocket, and switch the TV off if you’re not giving it your full attention? Play some music to fill in the silence and enjoy the freedom to read a book, chat with your partner, or give any other task your undivided attention. By all means, if a show you’ve been dying to watch is on, sit down and enjoy! If your attention starts to wander, do yourself a favor and switch it off.
What simple switches have you made to save yourself some small change? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!