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The rising costs of living mean we’re being forced to spend more on essentials each year. The ABS 2017 Household Expenditure Survey shows that we’re spending $190 more per week than six years ago.

 

So how can you cut back your spending on these essentials? Are you wasting money away in other areas of your life? We look at common expenses faced by Australians and give you tips to save on them.

 

Utilities

Beyond using your electricity and gas efficiently, you might be able to save money on utilities by checking if you’re getting the most competitive rate. There are several comparison sites out there that can help you.

  • Gas and electricity – get a copy of your most recent bill and compare it against other providers with the Victorian Government Energy Compare website.
  • Phone and internet – try websites such as Finder, WhistleOut iSelect to see all available providers and possible plans.

 

Food

When it comes to saving on food, organisation is key. Plan your meals each week and write a list of ingredients you need – it will stop you from impulse buying and wasting food.

It might be a little less convenient than going to the supermarket, but fresh produce is generally cheaper at markets, especially at the end of the day when prices are reduced. Buying in bulk is often a good way to get a bargain, but make sure you’re stocking up on non-perishable items that you will use.

 

Transport

Your ability to save on transport depends on where you live and what your daily commute is like. While walking and cycling are the cheapest and most environmentally friendly ways to get around, they’re not always possible.

Cars are expensive to maintain. With improved public transport and ridesharing services available, it might be time to work out if having a car is worth paying for fuel, parking, registration and insurance. If you don’t use your car much, you might be able to get away without one.

You can also explore ways to make some income from your car or garage. Some ideas include becoming an Uber driver, renting out your car using a website like Car Next Door, or even renting your spare car spot using a website like Spacer, Parkhound or Parkey.

 

The unexpected essentials

An emergency fund can give you peace of mind when dealing with life’s ups and downs. If you haven’t got savings stashed away for emergencies already, consider building an emergency fund.

  1. 1. Consider how much you can afford to put away each week, whether it’s $20 or $200, it can still create a helpful buffer for yourself in a time of need.
  2. 2. Set up and automatic transfer of that amount into a new bank account – preferably a bank account without a linked debit card– so you’re not tempted to use it for every day spending!

 

Improving your money management

We’ve looked at ways to save on the essentials, and how to save for a rainy day – but how can you improve the way you spend your money day to day?

 

1. Track your spending

You can do this by looking at your bank account transactions or with ASIC’s TrackMySpend app. Identify the key areas you’re spending on – entertainment, fashion, food etc.

 

2. Create a budget

Once you figure out where your money is being spent, you can set yourself a budget for each key area. For more information and resources to help you create a budget, check out MoneySmart.

 

3. Learn more about your finances

Generally, the more you know about your money, the easier it is to make the most of it. There are plenty of resources available to help you learn more about your finances. Some great places to start are MoneySmart, Vision Super’s lifestyle articles or ME Bank’s Ed school of money.

 

4. Have a goal in mind

Whether it’s paying off debt, saving for retirement, a new car or a holiday picture it and remind yourself of it whenever you’re making an impulse purchase.

Don’t let unnecessary or unplanned purchases get in the way of your dreams. For example, if you’re saving for a holiday, but you’ve just seen the perfect new jacket in a shop window, ask yourself “will this new jacket help me go on holiday?” and remind yourself of your savings goal.

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