There are numerous ways to save around the house without resorting to digging down the back of the couch to pay for your groceries. It’s just a matter of budgeting, smarter spending - and recognising the difference between our ‘wants’ and ‘needs’. It’s also important to just start saving, no matter how little, because once those first dollars show up in your savings account, you’ll be inspired to keep at it. Remember, every little bit helps! Here are some tips for saving money around the house.
Make a budget
First things first: write out a budget, or tune up the one you already have. Think hard about where you can trim the fat from your spending, see where your hidden expenses are, and examine where your dollars are going.
Retrain your brain
Start asking yourself every time you are about to spend money, do I really need that, or do I just want that? You’ll be surprised at how much money you just stop spending when you consciously recognise that difference.
Pay bills online and on time
Set up a direct debit on your bills so you’re never late in paying and so avoid late fees. If you’d still like a paper copy, make sure you set up a diary alert a day or two before the bill is due.
Find a credit card that rewards you
Many banks offer reward points on their credit cards, so find out if your bank does. Make sure that you’ve got the right credit card to suit your needs and the way you like to manage your money.
Try annual comparison shopping
Once a year, sit down and study what you’re paying for power, phone/internet, water etc. Are the bills in line with your budget and financial goals? Although it can be a bit of paperwork, changing to a cheaper service provider can save in the long run. If you’re a homeowner, review your mortgage structure. There are many options outside of traditional fixed and floating options. Splitting your mortgage into fixed and floating portions can balance the certainty of payments with the option to repay a bit extra. Offset mortgages such as BNZ's Total Money use your everyday accounts to reduce the interest you pay on your mortgage. Tailored home loan options allow you to make small increases to your repayments every year. 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.
Lock up your savings
Put money away so you can’t easily get to it if you find it hard to save. You can use a separate savings account for rainy day savings to dip into, one that doesn’t penalise if you make a withdrawal or go below a certain amount.
Shop at the right time of year
Make the most of the end-of-season sales when stores are making way for new stock. You can get great bargains on all sorts of things that are seasonal, such as summer clothes and shoes at the end of summer, heaters or dehumidifiers after winter, or celebration-specific such as Christmas trees and decorations after Christmas.
Just because it’s on special or is an amazing one-time-only best bargain ever, doesn’t mean you have to buy it! Websites such as Once-It and GrabOne may offer amazing deals, but if you don’t need it, don’t buy it!
Stick to your shopping list
Random and impulse buys can make a large dent in your budget! Always make a list and stick to it when you’re going shopping – even online. Meal planning helps too - how often do you buy things you think you may need? If you have your menu for the week planned out, you’re less likely to buy something ‘just in case’. Keep a shopping list on the fridge to keep track of what you run out of and what you’ll need. Or download a shopping list app that can sync with another phone, so whoever is shopping has the most up-to-date list.
Ditch the branded products
Do you really need to buy the top brand of milk, butter or sugar? 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. Buying household staples like tape, wrapping paper, glue, plastic storage containers and scrubbing brushes from these places will save you a bundle over the supermarkets or specialty stores. Bulk bin shops offer excellent value for pantry staples such as sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour, cereals, and basic cleaning products.
Entertain at home
Have friends over for brunch instead of dinner, saving on alcohol, and food (think French toast and coffee instead of roast lamb and wine). Or, have a pot luck dinner where guests all contribute a dish.
Learn to make cheaper food
Hit up the internet and Pinterest for collections of delicious yet economical recipes to make, and put them in a binder so they’re easily accessible. Even a couple of cheap meals a week can make a difference to your budget. You can even search for recipes that use the ingredients you have in your cupboard.
Make your own cleaning products
Be kind to the earth and your budget. There are so many ways to make your own cleaning products using things like vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, lemon juice, and other common household items, all of which are cheaper than brand name cleaners. Check out these ways to use baking soda, sugar cubes and tea-tree oil.
Take your own lunch to work
It really saves money! It may take up a little more of your time to prepare, but think of the dollars you’re saving. Even bringing your own lunch a few times a week can save you cash. The cost of a pre-packaged lunch or snack is so much more expensive than if you make it at home. You can make a whole batch of cookies or muffins for under $6, and pay $4-5 for a single one in a café. The same goes for café-bought coffee. Make your own at home or bring a plunger and your favourite coffee to keep at work.
Keep a jar of spare change
To save having to get cash out for the unexpected things, just put all your loose change into a jar instead. It will come in handy for all those things that invariably crop up – a visit from the Toothfairy, school outings, lunch order money or a bottle of milk...
Reduce unused expenses
Got a rarely used gym membership, magazine subscription, or a club or service you pay for but don't access? Cancel it! This goes for online automatic account renewals too.
Visit Pinterest and discover your inner crafter/baker/painter/clothesmaker! Also, don't waste money on wrapping paper when you can find other creative ways of presenting your gifts – check out these great ideas from OHbaby! Magazine. And, when you find a great generic product on special – say in the post-Christmas or post-season sales - stock up on a few so you are prepared and can save.
Entertain the kids more cheaply
There are plenty of cheap activities kids will love, especially when the weather is good. Kids love exploring parks, playgrounds and beaches, riding bikes, climbing trees, making insect, shell or leaf collections…Go somewhere with another family or have their kids over to your house – kids are often easier to entertain or, even better, entertain themselves, when they’re in a group. Younger kids love playing with ‘non toys’ – things you already have in your house. Invest in some arts and crafts items for indoor play, and check out the numerous websites dedicated to kid-friendly games and craft activities. Search for great deals on versatile toys like Lego via online auction sites. We’ve done the research – check out OHbaby! Magazine's 50 free toddler boredom busters!
Reward yourself for your hard work!
We all need a treat now and again, so reward yourself occasionally for some of the savings that were harder to do - within budget of course! Set yourself an ‘allowance’ and put it in your budget rather than making an unplanned splurge.