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How to cut your budget in 30 days

Money might not buy happiness… but it does buy you the freedom to pursue the type of life you deserve. Here are 30 tips that will help you save without cramping your lifestyle.

Couple working on budget

No matter what your income, if you live beyond your means, you’re going to find yourself in financial difficulty at some point. Everyone knows the value of creating a personal budget — and sticking to it — but what can you do to cut your budget without feeling like you’re missing out? Can you still enjoy life on a budget?

J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly says the essence of frugality is spending as little as you can on most things so you can spend lavishly on a few things that you love. Cutting your everyday spending costs isn’t about sitting at home eating a home-brand can of baked beans for dinner.

So whether you’re saving for a holiday, a home deposit, a new car or a new baby, here are 30 ways you can cut your budget to boost your savings without feeling like a complete scrooge.

1

Stop buying coffee

A coffee a day can soon add up. Let’s say you’re spending, on average, $4 on coffee a day. That’s $20 per working week, adding up to a total of $960 a year (taking out four weeks of annual leave). Buy a re-usable melamine travel cup for $5 instead and make your coffee at home before heading to work.

2

Use PayPass

If you’re going to buy your coffee, use PayPass. Paying in cash means you’re taking a minimum of $20 out of the ATM — an amount that’s easy to spend on small items you just don’t need. Use PayPass and you’ve just saved yourself $16.

3

Pack your lunch

This one is a no-brainer, but pack your lunch each day and you can save $2,400 a year, based on an average of $10 per take-out lunch. There are so many creative lunch box ideas out there so you don’t need to feel bored with a ham sandwich every day. And with your savings, why not treat yourself to lunch out once a fortnight so you don’t feel completely deprived.Bottle of cider with glass

4

Choose your drinks wisely

Friday night drinks can quickly add up, but you can save your wallet (and your liver) by having a soft drink or water between every alcoholic drink you consume. Also, try to limit the cocktails and spirits — a $10 cocktail every hour is harder on the hip pocket than a $5 cider.

5

Start a meal swap

Here’s a way to cut your cooking and your grocery bill while still enjoying a home-cooked meal each night! Create a meal that’s enough to feed six and freeze four portions to swap with friends — not only will you save money, but you’ll get a freezer full of healthy meals on standby to boot.

6

Buy in bulk

Buying your groceries in bulk is a great way to trim your budget. Your local supermarket will often have special on bulk items, so shop around and take advantage of them where you can. Or pop out to your local Costco or Aldi for even more everyday savings.

7

Get out of town

Buying your food from a local market or suburban grocery store is a great way to cut costs. Forget buying your food from expensive city convenience stores, get out of town on a Saturday or Sunday for some great suburban market deals.

8

Plan your meals in advance

Meal planner with pencil

Buying groceries each night of the week on your way home from work is a sure-fire way to spend more than you need. Once a week, sit down and plan your meals, create a list and stick to it when you hit the store to save on your weekly grocery bill.

9

Turn off your appliances

Standby power is the electricity many appliances use when they’re not switched off at the wall and it can account for more than 10 per cent of your household electricity use. Do your bit for the environment — and your budget — by switching off at the wall and you could save up to $166 a year (based on the average household electricity expenditure of $32 a week).

10

Hold a fashion swap

Chances are, you have a bunch of friends with wardrobes just as full as yours with clothes they simply don’t wear. Get a new wardrobe for free by inviting them over to your place for a fashion swap — simply bring out the clothes you don’t need and trade them with your friends for an instant — and free — new look.babysitter carrying young girl on her back

11

Start a babysitting club

If you’ve got kids, you’ll know that babysitting costs can make a night out prohibitively expensive. A great way to cut costs is to set up a babysitting club with a few friends who have kids a similar age. You can take turns minding each other’s offspring for an hour or two (or overnight) for a much-needed, cost-free break.

12

Buy nothing new

Celebrate all things second-hand by committing to buying nothing new for a month. See how much you can save by shopping second-hand, swapping, sharing, recycling and upcycling whatever you can. Buy only what you really need and find joy in experiences — not stuff — for a month to see just how thoughtfully you can spend and save.

Want to save more? Here’s how to save money while saving the planet >>

13

Compare and save

Comparison shopping websites

You’ve seen the ads and now it’s time to act — you can probably save hundreds on your home, contents, car and health insurance if you shop around. Take advantage of any of the comparison sites out there and do your homework before you renew your insurance this year to save a bundle.

14

Ask for a better deal

You might be comfortable asking for a better deal for big-ticket items, such as a house or a car, but you can ask for a better deal almost anywhere. Before you buy furniture, electronics, fashion items or even utilities — such as a new mobile phone plan or internet service — make sure you ask for a better deal. Do your research and if you’ve found a better deal online, say so — the retailer might just drop their price to match it or beat it.

15

Ditch the brands

If you’re a sucker for brand names, it’s time to change your tune to save your bottom line. Home-brand food items taste the same as branded ones — in many cases they’re even made at the same factory — and the price difference can be a saving of almost 50 per cent.

16

Rent your fashion

If you simply must wear a fashion label for a specific event or occasion, then why not rent it instead? Websites such as My Fashion House, Glam Corner and Love Me And Leave Me rent designer dresses and handbags for a fraction of the cost, leaving you with more money in your pocket for your next fashion event.

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