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The following is a Guest Post written by Annie Button
This summer’s record-breaking heatwave had us all out and enjoying the sunshine more than ever. Dining alfresco, heading to the beach, and packing our days with outdoor adventures does, unfortunately, come at a price though, and it seems that everyone’s feeling the pinch on their pockets now that Fall is here.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry – you’re certainly not alone. The good news is that there are plenty of small lifestyle changes you can make to save your money this Fall and continue to watch those pennies and dollars right up until December. Here are our favorite eight suggestions to get you started.
1. Save your change
Little amounts really do add up surprisingly fast. If you find your wallet and pockets are usually lined with scraps of loose change at the end of the day, start putting them into a sealed money box – the type you need a can opener to get into. It might take a little while to fill it, but depending on what denominations you’re putting in, you’ll probably find over a hundred pounds inside. You can then take this to the bank or have fun using the change in self-service supermarket checkouts!
If you tend to use your card more than cash, install a money-box type app that will round up your transactions and help you save that way.
2. Unsubscribe from email newsletters
Notifications are the fastest way of being nudged off of your saving streak. The $5 off voucher, or 10% discount code? Guess what, it’s not saving if you weren’t going to spend it in the first place! If you’re keen to knuckle down on frivolous spending for several weeks, it’s time for newsletters and promotional emails to go. Unsubscribe, ramp up your spam filters and delete them as soon as you can to avoid temptation.
3. Stay away from sales
Just like email newsletters, you need to stop making a beeline for in-store discounts. Ignore reduced prices for anything that you don’t need, and don’t get suckered into “buy one get one half price” – you’ll be spending 50% more than you planned to! Walk straight past sale racks and stick to the essentials when shopping.
4. Plan your meals
The average household throws away around $600 worth of food in a year, which is terrible for the environment and terrible for your wallet. The best way to avoid this is to plan your meals every week, carefully accounting for everything you buy. It might seem like a hassle and organisational overkill, but knowing exactly what you’re having for lunch and dinner each day (and possibly having prepared it in advance) will be satisfyingly efficient.
You might find it useful to have a “leftover” stew, stir-fry or curry on a Sunday, where you can chuck everything that’s still in the fridge into a single pot or pan – no more guilt about wasting food scraps!
5. Streamline your services
Committed to having a major crackdown on your expenses? Go through all of your bills to see if you’re spending more than you need to. How much do you actually use your gym membership, TV package, streaming services or gaming subscription? Could you sacrifice one, or two? What about your phone contract? Sim-only deals start from just $10 dollars a month, so instead of paying a high price for the latest handset, try keeping the one you have and saving hundreds of dollars each year. When the time comes to renew your contracts for insurance, energy and internet, make sure you do a quick comparison to check you’re getting the best deal.
6. Try buying a brand down
On your next big shop, try buying every product at the next price point down. If you usually buy branded goods, opt for the “premium” store version, and if you usually pick the most expensive store option, try the mid-range one – you get the picture. Most of these products will look, taste and feel the same as their more expensive counterparts, so you’ll be making ongoing savings every time you shop. If anything doesn’t quite cut it, you can revert to your preferred version and still be making some savings overall.
7. Limit two-car usage
It’s not possible for every family, but if you currently run two cars, see if you can adapt your lifestyle to go down to one – at least for a day or two each week. Can one partner cycle to work, or get a lift with a colleague once or twice a week? Is it possible to adjust your hours so that one of you can get dropped off and picked up by the other? Fuel prices certainly aren’t getting any cheaper, so reducing the amount of times you need to fill up will slowly but surely curb your outgoings.
8. Do some low-cost swaps
Just because you’re watching your spending doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. If you’re used to indulging in expensive weekend activities to keep you and your family entertained at weekends, it’s just time to swap them for cheaper alternatives. For example, a family ticket to the cinema (plus the cost of drinks and snacks) can easily total more than $50. Grabbing some microwave popcorn and some fizzy drinks to enjoy in front of Netflix? Less than a tenner. Four pizzas and dessert at a nice restaurant? Again, you’re looking at $100 or so. Making your own tortilla pizzas? Fun, easy and a fraction of the price.