I often get the feeling that my hard-earned money doesn’t really like my company; I mean, why else would it disappear so fast when I reach for it?! When you’re budgeting for a family it can seem as though the bills have control, so I set about finding some worthwhile ways to help my money stick around longer and be there when I needed it.
Try annual comparison-shopping for big bills Once a year, sit down and study what you’re paying for your power, phone and internet, water, credit card, mortgage etc. It can mean some paperwork, but switching to a cheaper service provider can save in the long run. If you’re a homeowner, talk to your bank about reviewing your mortgage structure. Any mortgage set up that lets you make extra repayments without penalty means you have the option to pay off your mortgage faster and save on interest in the long run. Use this online calculator to help you work out what you could borrow, repay and save.
Ditch the branded products If you had to taste-test branded and non-branded pantry staples like milk, butter and sugar, would you be able to tell the difference? I’m willing to bet that you couldn’t. Only buy branded items if there’s a real and marked difference in quality and taste. And, get to know your local dollar and bulk-bin stores. They offer a far cheaper supply of household staples, including things like tape, glue, wrapping paper and greeting cards, than the supermarkets or specialty stores.
Entertain at home Saving on entertainment doesn’t mean taking your partner on a cheapskate date, or serving cheese toasties to guests (although if your guests are also parents, they will probably be grateful to eat anything they haven’t had to cook themselves). When you want to have friends over, make it for brunch instead of dinner so you save on alcohol and food (think French toast and coffee instead of roast lamb and wine). Or, have a pot-luck meal where guests all contribute something. Offer to cook a one-pot meal for a friend if they play host to you and your family.
Check your home appliances are efficient Do you really need your taps on full force? By simply replacing your taps with low-flow models, or asking a plumber to turn down your water pressure, you will cut your water bill and the small investment will be worth it. Is the lint remover in your dryer clean? How about the filter on your vacuum cleaner or heat pump? Is your fridge thermostat unnecessarily high? It’s worth taking the time to investigate these things because inefficient appliances are a real drain on power.
Take your own lunch, drinks and snacks wherever you go While it may take up a little more of your time to plan and prepare, just think of the dollars you’re saving. The cost of a pre-packaged lunch, snack or drink is so much more expensive than if you make it at home. Homemade food usually tastes better and you can also control what ingredients you use. Going to meet a friend in the park or playground? Take a thermos of tea or coffee, some home made baking and bask in the glow of your friend’s admiration and your restored relationship with your hard-earned cash!