In an era of super-high house prices and intergenerational squabbling about ‘entitlement’, there’s a lot of chatter in the media about budgeting.
Older people love to preach to younger people about ‘living within your means’, as though skipping a few café breakfasts will equal a house deposit. Mums and dads argue about what it means to ‘spoil’ kids, and what’s really worth the money. Young singles face social pressure to go out multiple times a week, or else risk missing out on the one awesome story everyone talks about for months after.
Some would have you believe that you can live off the grid, grow all your own food, never buy new clothes, never go out, and still be happy. For most of us, that’s just not doable. But the average Joe (or Josie) can still get something out of following simple but smart cost-cutting advice. Switching around the way you cut your budget can ensure you don’t miss out on anything for too long. Plus, for the stuff where you have to invest up front (ingredients, equipment), you get a built-in incentive for sticking to your plan.
Here’s a list of commonly cited ways to cut your spending, plus an idea of how much you could save. By mixing and matching what you cut from time to time, you can enjoy yourself and still save money.
What you save
Do it once
Do it 10 times a year
Do it for a whole year
|1. Make your own daily coffee instead of getting takeaway [50c vs $3.50]||$3||$30||$1,095|
|2. Skip Friday night knockoff beers||$25||$250||$1,200|
|3. Repair good shoes instead of buying same new||$50||$500||N/A|
|4. Buy non-branded groceries during your weekly shop1||$40||$400||$2,080|
|5. Buy kids’ clothing at an op shop instead of discount department store2||$8||$80||N/A|
|6. Take a chance on a cleanskin, instead of a branded wine3 [$10 vs $20]||$10||$100||N/A|
|7. Bake weekly bread instead of buying brand-name loaf [40c for ingredients vs $3]||$2.60||$26||$135.20|
|8. Go to the movies on cheap Tuesday instead of Friday/Saturday||$7||$70||N/A|
|9. Catch public transport instead of driving with the family4||$35.09||$350||$18,200|
|10. Skip regular Sunday brunch at an inner city café||$30||$300||$1,560|
You don’t have to say no to every social invite, fashion bargain or gourmet treat to spend less cash overall. By thinking a bit more flexibly when you’re trying to cut costs, you can pick and mix where you save money.
1 https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/everyday-shopping/supermarkets/articles/cheapest-groceries-Australia, visited 20 February 2018.
2 Based on $2/item average at op shop, vs ~$10/item average in three major Australian discount department stores.
3 Based on unofficial average from https://www.shareacamper.com.au/wine-price-index-au/, plus most expensive cleanskin prices from a major national retailer. Visited 20 February 2018.
4 Household cost, based on: http://www.aaa.asn.au/storage/aaa-transport-affordability-index.pdf. NB: Saving may be more for periods of a week or longer, due to weekly/monthly/annual pass prices. Visited 20 February 2018.