Want to keep more money in your wallet where it belongs? Here’s how to avoid common money leaks that could cost you thousands.
No one likes spending any more money than they have to, but sometimes it seems that money drains faster from your bank account than it comes in. And as the unnecessary expenses add up, your bank balance continues to drop no matter what time of year it is.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little bit of common sense and forward thinking, you can avoid a huge range of common money leaks all year round. Our top tips below will help your bank balance stay at an optimal level in summer, winter and any other time of year.
Plan ahead for holidays
There’s nothing like a holiday to allow you to explore exciting new adventures, or to simply recharge your batteries and catch up on some “me time”. Unfortunately, holidays don’t come cheap, especially if they are spur-of-the-moment getaways.
One way to save money on your travel expenses is to plan ahead. Booking flights and accommodation is a whole lot cheaper three months before your planned departure than three days before, and booking in advance gives you the chance to shop around for the best deals. Take advantage of sales and discount offers for a holiday that you will love and remember for ever, but that will also be much more affordable.
Be energy-efficient (and water-wise)
Rent or mortgage repayments aside, utility bills represent one of the largest ongoing expenses most Australians have to budget for. Electricity, gas, water – if you’ve ever added up the total amount you spend on power and water each year, the overall cost may surprise you.
This is why it makes excellent financial sense to make your home as energy-efficient as possible. One of the best times to do this is during winter, when heating costs and those lovely long showers can see power bills skyrocket. On the other hand, the costs of keeping an air conditioner running all summer long can also put a dent in your hip pocket.
Cut down on your electricity and water usage wherever you can, be it by taking shorter showers, wearing warmer clothes or simply remembering to turn off all lights and appliances when not in use. Making smart choices when selecting appliances and ensuring that you choose the most water- and energy-efficient options can also lead to big savings in the long-term.
As well as this, proper insulation will help your home stay warm in winter and cool in summer, allowing you to cut down on heating and cooling costs.
Dine in, not out
This is another great money-saving idea that you can put into practice all year round. Sure, dining out is delicious and can be a wonderful social occasion, but doing it several nights a week can have a big impact on your budget. As well as the cost of meals, you also have to pay for wine, corkage, a tip and transport costs, so even a relatively cheap meal can put a big dent in your budget.
Eating in means you don’t have to worry about transport or designated drivers, you can improve your own culinary skills and you can rest assured that the dish you want will always be on the menu.
Make your own coffee
Have you ever sat down and worked out how much money you spend on coffee each year? Assuming you buy two cups a day at $4 each, that’s $56 a week and $2,912 a year, which is a hell of a lot to spend on coffee.
So why not consider cutting back on your coffee spend whenever possible? You could make your own with a plunger or a capsule machine, or keep it simple with instant coffee. Or, for a cheaper alternative to bought coffee, some of the coffee options available from service stations are pretty cheap and don’t taste terrible.
Lower your goals
It’s natural to want the best in life, but if getting the best in life comes at the expense of your financial security then it’s time to rethink your spending strategies. For example, while a 55-inch plasma TV would be perfect for watching the footy finals, would you really notice all that much difference if you chose a cheaper 42-inch instead?
Or, in another example, while a top of the line iPhone 6S might have all the bells and whistles, might getting a much cheaper iPhone 5 or 5C be a better option for your budget?
If you lower your spending ambitions and adopt a more realistic approach, you’ll stop unnecessarily leaking funds from your account.
School holiday savers
Entertaining a couple of kids during the school holidays is a big challenge, not only for every parent’s patience, but also for their bank balance. Sure, there are plenty of entertainment options on offer for teens, tweens and under-tens, but not all of them can be described as affordable. In fact, according to the finder.com.au School Holiday Spending Report, Australian families fork out almost $600 to cover the cost of school holiday fun.
This is where you need to put all of your bargain-hunting skills to good use. From school holiday camps and classes to trips to the movies, it’s important to shop around for the most affordable option. For example, are there cheap school holiday movie sessions for kids under the age of 16? Is there a similar camp nearby that offers the same experiences but for a cheaper fee?
Compare your choices thoroughly so that you can make an informed decision.
Find free fun
Looking for some fun things to do with the family but that won’t cost the earth? Well, there are plenty of great activities that you can do at any time of the year that are entirely free.
Australia in summer is a paradise for anyone who loves spending time outdoors. Head to the beach for a swim and a sunbathe, have a picnic in the park or strap on some shoes and go for a bushwalk. Australia’s great outdoors are just waiting to be explored, and you often won’t have to pay a cent to get amongst it.
You may not be so keen to head outside when the mercury drops over winter, but there’s still plenty of free family fun to be had at home. Have a TV show marathon – it’s cheaper than the movies – play some board games or just curl up with a good book.
Be a smart shopper
You can save a substantial amount of money if you shop for certain products and services at the right time of year. Let’s take clothing as an example. Buying your threads out of season, for example, looking for your summer swimsuit during autumn or winter, can save you a lot of money.
At the same time, it’s also worth remembering that specific items tend to go on sale at certain times of year. For example, if you want a new car, the end of the financial year is the perfect time to start hunting around for a bargain.
By doing a little research and finding out when sales occur and when the best time to buy is, you can save yourself a whole lot of money. And if you keep this and our other money-saving tips in mind, your bank balance can stay in great shape all year round.