A budget will not help you to save money.
A budget is a tool for tracking how much you’re are saving, but it doesn’t do the saving for you.
Saving money happens when you take positive action to change your spending habits.
Does that sound daunting?
Because changing habits can be a bit of a process. It can take at least 21 days to cement a new habit, possibly longer.
Well you don’t need 21 days to start saving money – you can start saving today!
13 ways to save money today
Want to save money but can’t find the motivation? Take the next 13 steps and you’ll be well on your way to saving big bucks this year.
1. MAKE A CUP OF COFFEE
Before we get started, it will be nice to do a few of these things over a cuppa.
Not a takeaway cuppa, not today. Today, brew a cup at home and save.
Takeaway coffee can really add up. At $4 a cup, if you buy a cup 5 days a week that will add up to over $1,000 a year.
While you may not want to give up takeaway coffee altogether (I’m quite partial to a flat white, and I get a discount when I use my own *reusable cup), even cutting out 2 a week will save you over $400 a year.
2. MAKE A FEW PHONE CALLS
You can potentially save hundreds of dollars each year by shopping around for your mobile phone, landline and internet bills and insurance premiums.
Read further: How to switch and save on your bills
3. SWITCH TO FORTNIGHTLY REPAYMENTS
While you’re making calls, call your bank and switch from monthly to fortnightly repayments.
By paying fortnightly, you pay the equivalent of an extra month’s repayment every year, drastically reducing your mortgage. Use this calculator to show you how much you can save by making this simple switch. Most online calculators get this wrong! – You need to pay half the monthly repayment every fortnight. Calculate it for yourself and make sure the bank is getting it right too!
And while you’ve got the bank on the phone, ask them if they can do a better deal on your mortgage rate. According to a 2010 Choice survey, 60% of respondents (who asked) successfully negotiated their interest rate simply by asking!
This is another quick and simple thing to do that could potentially save you thousands.
4. CANCEL PAY TV
If there’s one thing that will divide a nation it’s the question of Pay TV v no Pay TV.
We actually watch very little TV, so I’m not the best to comment but I have a friend who said once: look, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t gamble, I don’t go out…but I really enjoy what I watch on Pay TV.
And that’s fair enough. If you get a lot out of your Pay TV, then no, you don’t have to give it up.
But if you’re looking to cut expenses, there are a lot of great online alternatives these days, like Netflix, that cost a fraction of cable. According to their website, Foxtel’s “best” package is $134 a month. Netflix is currently $12 a month.
What about the sport? you might ask.
If it’s an occasional game here and there, you’ll be better off watching it down at the pub. If it’s every week however and you (and or your partner – I’m trying not to be sexist) like a few drinks during the game, it will probably be cheaper sticking with Foxtel.
5. SET UP AN AUTOMATIC PAYMENT
How much have you saved so far?
Well those savings don’t count until you do something purposeful with them, like transfer them into a savings account or use them to pay off debt.
The next 3-minute task will be the most important one you do today.
Jump online and set up an automatic transfer from your transaction account to your saving account to come out ever Payday. That way you’re saving before the money can be spent.
6. START A PIGGY BANK
Boost your savings by not only paying your self first but also paying yourself last.
I banked $50 in 5c 10c and 20c pieces the other day. That’s just about enough to pay for my son’s school fees this year.
Each week, my husband empties his pockets of silver into a jar and I empty my purse. It’s amazing how quickly small change adds up!
Every six months or so I bank that silver and it’s surprise money.
7. START A WISH LIST
Do you struggle with impulse buys?
One way to combat the impulse is to start a wish list.
Instead of whipping out the credit card when you see something you want, whip out your smartphone and add the item to and Evernote list. You can save it as a shortcut on your home screen for easy access.
It’s amazing how often that ‘must buy’ turns into a ‘what was I thinking’ once you step away from the shop and think about it with a clear head.
And if it’s something you really do want, you can take a moment to shop around and see if you can get a better deal.
Take 2 minutes to set up a wish list note on Evernote. Now you’re armed to combat impulse buys head on.
8. WRITE A MENU PLAN
The single best way you can save money on the groceries is to menu plan. Without a plan, it’s hard stick to a grocery budget, minimise food waste, and make the most of leftovers.
Write down what you’ll eat for each meal for the next week. To save even more on the groceries, plan frugal meals. Don’t forget to get ingredients for breakfasts and lunchboxes as well as non-food essentials like cheap and natural cleaning supplies.
9. COOK DINNER
Takeaway is usually more expensive than the meal you cook from scratch at home, and it’s not going to be anywhere near as healthy.
To maximise your savings, cook a vegetarian meal, cook a little more than you need for one meal and then double that amount so you can freeze it for later, saving you time and money next shop.
10. PUT ASIDE YOUR LEFTOVERS
As you dish out dinner, dish out an extra serving for tomorrows lunches. This is why you cooked a ‘little more.’
Just like coffees, work lunches can really add up over time. But one of the reasons we don’t take lunch to work is we don’t have time to prepare it in the morning rush.
By putting aside leftovers as you dish up, you’re ensuring there are leftovers to take the next day and you’ve got something quick and easy to grab in the morning.
11. FILL A WATER BOTTLE
And while you’re packing your leftovers for lunch, fill a bottle of water to take with you too.
Bottled water can cost more per litre than petrol! While a couple of dollars here and there don’t feel like much, they certainly add up (especially if you’re also buying coffee and lunch!).
So fill up a water bottle (we use *these stainless steel ones), pop it in the fridge next to your lunch and you’re all set to save.
12. SWITCH OFF AND UNPLUG
Most appliance and electronics have some sort of standby, which means they’re costing you money, even if you’re not using them. And with all the electrical goods the average household owns, this wasted electricity can really add up!
Go through each room one by one and look for leaking energy. Turn off lights, ceiling fans, unused computers, chargers, TVs, stereos, microwaves, washing machines and any other appliance or electrical device that is sucking up energy unnecessarily.
See further: Save more on electricity around the home
13. VISIT THE LIBRARY
You’ve done some great work and saved a packet. You deserve a special treat. How about a trip to the library?
If you’re a book lover, then your local library is your best friend. Save hundreds by borrowing your books rather than buying them.
But libraries offer so much more than books. There you will also find:
- music CDs
- kids toys
- free workshops
- free kids activities like story time
- free online access to movies, documentaries, eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, newspapers and more
Why buy when you can borrow, save money and save on clutter as well!
In just one day, you’ve saved yourself a packet and put some solid strategies in place to continue saving money in the future. Menu plan again next week. Pack leftovers again tomorrow. Put your favourite movie on hold at the library. Soon you’ll be well on the way to reaching your financial goals.
What are your favourite strategies for saving money? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.