Top tips that can save you money around the home
With rising inflation, the spiralling cost of living, and steadily increasing interest rates, most of us need to pay closer attention to our budget.
But doing so can be much easier than you think.
Here’s a few key things you can do around the home to help you to save a little money. And remember – every little bit counts. While savings of $20 here and there might not seem to make much difference of themselves, when you add up them all up at the end of a year, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results!
Aim to reduce any debt
Debt is more common than you might think. Our research shows that it’s one of the biggest money-saving roadblocks.
Start by listing all your debts so you know how much you owe. By prioritising your debt and having a plan about which debt you want to pay off first – a good idea may be to start with the most expensive debts, based on interest rates and fees – you may improve your capacity to save in the long term.
Reduce your mortgage.
Your home loan is a great place to start. For most of us, monthly mortgage payments are likely to be our single biggest regular household expense. So it’s definitely worth asking your existing lender for a better deal and also shopping around to see what other options are out there. Not only might you be able to secure a better rate, it’s also an opportunity to refresh the features of your account, like establishing an offset account where any savings will count towards repayments and help you to get down the balance of your loan faster. Even an extra $20 a month can make a difference.
Check your other big bills.
It’s also worth reviewing other larger household expenses like home insurance, telephone and energy bills. First up, check the fine print. Are there fees or products you didn’t ask for or don’t use? If yes, cut back on things you don’t need and ask about things you’re not sure about. Again, it’s worth considering asking your provider for a better deal and seeing whether there are any discounts or offers they could apply to your account. You might be surprised how much they want to keep your business.
While it might seem obvious, be mindful your energy usage. Even simple things like remembering to turn out the lights when you leave the room, turning off appliances at the wall and waiting until your dishwasher is full before you turn it on, can all add up and can reduce your bill.
Likewise, look at other things you can do around the home to save on heating and cooling costs. For example, instead of turning the heating on every time the temperature falls, why put on an extra jumper or keep a blanket handy to put around your shoulders or use door snakes to stop hot air from leaving the home. In summer, use fans rather than air-conditioning. You can also save by washing clothes in cold water rather than warm – better for them and for your hip pocket. Likewise, try hanging them up to dry rather than using the drier.
To identify specific money saving improvements, you could also consider engaging an expert to undertake an energy audit of your home and/or look at installing energy-saving appliances like smart meters, automated shut-off switches or better insulation.
Keep on top of home maintenance.
Issues like leaks, cracks in the wall or mould can often occur unexpectedly. But don't procrastinate when it comes to fixing them or run the risk that leaving them for too long can result in much bigger, and much costlier, problems in the future.
Better still, think about making a home maintenance plan. Just like a home budget, this can help you save. Rather than waiting until things break or are in need of urgent (and often expensive) repair, regularly check for anything that might be on its last legs. That way you’ll be able to catch problems before they become a costly catastrophe and save you on labour costs.
And remember – not every repair, renovation or home improvement job necessarily requires a specialist or a tradie. Try your hand at DIY for tasks like painting or removing carpet to save on unnecessary labour costs.
Shop smart – at the supermarket.
Always draw up a shopping list before you leave home. And know what you’ve got, so you know what you need to buy. That way, you won’t be tempted to spend more than you should on things you don’t really need. Also shop around for the best prices for food, including fresh food in season, and keep your eyes open for money-off coupons and special deals that can lead to substantial savings on regular buys.
The allure of new appliances, furniture or electronics can sometimes be overwhelming. But while these might need to be upgraded from time to time, consider whether you’re doing so out of necessity or impulse. For those occasions when you do need to buy new appliances, always look for more energy-efficient models so you can keep your energy bills down.
Cut back on non-essential spending.
Consider whether you really do need to use delivery apps like Uber Eats quite so often. Cutting back by even one to two nights a week can lead to big savings. Instead, why not plan your meals and shop for them in advance? Be smart; cook meals in bulk on the weekend and freeze portions for the rest of the week for your evening meals, and for lunches if you’re back at work. Also, make your own snacks rather than buying them.
Also, avoid buying bottled water. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, invest in a water filter.
Stay on budget.
Check your credit card statement thoroughly every few months to see if there are any subscriptions on there – to streaming services, magazines or gyms you don’t actually get around to attending – that you may have forgotten about. This is also a good way to see where all of your money is going and to work out if there’s a way you can reduce that spending.
Alternatively, you can be tactical with your viewing and only sign up to a service when it has something you want to watch and then cancel once you're done – you can always re-join later.
Recycling is not only fashionable; it’s another great way to save money. Recycled furniture, in particular, is often inexpensive and full of character, and can also cut out the long wait for new items to arrive due thanks to supply chain disruptions. Or, instead of replacing furniture outright or spending heavily on high end décor, why not try a simple face lift first. For example, a few bright cushions on an older couch, a coat of paint on a dresser or bland wall, or some nice photo filled frames are all simple and relatively inexpensive ways to inject your space with new energy.
Get active online.
Online communities and marketplaces like eBay are a great way to make money from items sitting unused around your house, or alternatively, help you obtain things you need, like clothes, furniture, and tools, cheaply or for free. So, think about what things you might be willing to part ways with and/or items that you could purchase second-hand.
If you have a garden or a balcony, you can save plenty in the kitchen by growing more expensive items like tomatoes and herbs. Of course, where you live and your gardening skills might make this more or less practical for your situation, but if your resources are limited, consider pitching in with neighbours for a community garden that you can all share.
The last word.
Australians worry about money more than anything else in life. Finances regularly top our list of concerns according to research from the Australian Psychological Society. At the end of the day, a change in your financial situation starts with a change in how you think about money. Clearing out any negative feelings like insecurity or fear about money can help remove the blockages that may prevent improving your financial wellbeing. The most important thing to note is that your relationship with money is not fixed, it’s one that can evolve over your lifetime. But with awareness, insight, knowledge and common sense you can start working to make empowered decisions about how you spend – and watch your savings improve.