Simple ways to save money

Money In A PocketSaving made easy

Making small changes in your life can fatten your savings and help you budget better. Follow these tips to save more money.

Change one habit and save

Small changes can make a big difference to your bank balance. Change one thing you do regularly and you could save money. Some examples are:

  • Give up drinking coffee or cut down on alcohol - it will save you money and can have health benefits.
  • Make your lunch at home.
  • Borrow books and DVDs from the library.
  • Lock up your credit card for a month and only pay for things with cash.
  • Set a limit for birthday and Christmas presents or give homemade gifts.

Save on clothes

  • If you're buying clothes, check if you can wash them to avoid dry cleaning bills.
  • Make sure anything you buy goes with at least two other things in your wardrobe so you can get a few different outfits out of one item.
  • Check op-shops and local markets for bargains.
  • Take advantage of end-of-season clearances to pay less for the things you need.

Cut your grocery bill

  • Take a shopping list to the supermarket and only buy what's on the list.
  • Plan meals in advance and add the ingredients to your shopping list.
  • If you have very young children, ask a friend to mind them while you go shopping. You'll have more time to compare prices and won't fall victim to 'pester power'.
  • Set a budget for your shopping trip, withdraw the cash from an ATM and only take this money with you when you go shopping.
  • Try growing your own food at home.
  • Eat a meal or snack before you go to the supermarket. When you're not hungry, you tend to buy less food.
  • Buy in bulk when things are cheaper. Meat can be cut into smaller portions and frozen so you can use it as you need it.
  • If you usually shop each week, try shopping once a fortnight to get into the habit of using all the food in your pantry before buying more.
  • Swap the brand names you always buy for generic products when you can.
  • Check the 'use by' and 'best before' dates on food so you don't waste money buying things you won't use before you have to throw them out.
  • Supermarkets usually promote the items at eye-level, so check the shelves above and below for cheaper alternatives.
  • Meat can be expensive, so buy less of it and try making more meals without using it.

Save on electricity, gas and water

  • Turn off appliances at the powerpoint when you're not using them.
  • Dress for the temperature by putting on a jumper and warm socks instead of turning on the heater.
  • Avoid using the dryer. Instead, hang your washing outside on sunny days, and use an indoor clothes rack when it's raining.
  • Use a hot water bottle instead of an electric blanket.
  • Take advantage of the sun and rely on natural light as much as you can each day, rather than automatically turning on the lights.
  • Compare energy suppliers to make sure you're getting the best deal. Visit the Australian Government's Energy Made Easy website, the Victorian Energy Compare website if you live in Victoria, or Energy Switch if you live in New South Wales.
  • Use a door snake under the door and seal up any gaps or cracks around your windows, doors, ceilings and floors.
  • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater
  • Consider installing solar panels with a gas booster, allowing the sun to heat up the water in the day, and the booster when the sun isn't warm enough.
  • Turn your stove top or oven off just before the food is done, allowing it to cook with the residual heat from the oven, frypan or pot.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Install a water efficient showerhead and a dual flush on your toilet.
  • Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth.
  • Fix plumbing leaks around the house. To check for hidden leaks, look at the reading on your water meter, then leave the house so that no-one uses water for a couple of hours. When you get back home, check the reading again. If it has changed, there is a hidden leak and you should call a plumber to fix it.
  • Save water to re-use on your garden - Save the water you use when boiling eggs, vegetables or pasta, and use it to water your plants. You can also water your plants with grey water from your washing machine or shower.
  • Put a plug in the sink if you're running the tap to wash dishes by hand or rinse fruit and vegetables.
  • Only use the washing machine and the dishwasher when they are full. Otherwise, adjust the water level to match a partial load.
  • Wash clothes with cold water.

Rein in restaurant meals

  • Cut back on how often you go out for dinner
  • Try cheaper alternatives on the menu
  • Order water instead of expensive drinks
  • Skip the dessert menu and get a cheaper alternative elsewhere.

Reduce your bank fees

Some financial institutions offer basic bank accounts with:

  • No account keeping fees
  • Free monthly statements
  • No minimum deposit amounts
  • No overdrawn fees

You can find which financial institutions offer these basic bank accounts on the Australian Bankers' Association's Affordable Banking website.

Save on your holidays

  • Save on flights by travelling before 8am or after 8pm, on public holidays like Christmas or New Year's Day or during off-peak seasons.
  • Hotel deals on comparison sites aren't always the cheapest - see if the hotel offers a better deal direct.
  • Booking an apartment can work out cheaper, especially if you're travelling as a group.
  • Look for discount passes to museums, galleries and public transport.
  • Pick up tourist brochures and magazines. They may have two-for-one deals and discount coupons such as 'kids eat for free', 'free entry before 6 pm' and other cheap tickets.
  • If you're 60 or older, you can sometimes access cheap tickets, meals or transport. It doesn't hurt to ask, even if senior discounts aren't advertised.
  • If you are travelling in Australia, you can usually get good, low cost meals at bowling clubs and RSLs. You can also try visiting a shopping centre food court near closing time and grab some food for a fraction of the cost.

Cheap ways to get fit

  • Get free exercise doing laps around your local oval, walking the dog or by using free apps or YouTube videos.
  • Shop around to get the best gym membership deal.
  • Team sports, boot camps or group personal training can be cost effective.

Try the Saver Plus program

Saver Plus helps families on low incomes develop a savings habit and improve financial skills. Saver Plus can help you set a savings goal and help you reach it. When you reach your goal, your savings are matched, dollar for dollar, up to $500.

It's easy to save money by cutting out or reducing some things you buy. Try one or two of these money-saving tips and watch your savings grow.

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Last updated: 30 Oct 2019