Get ready to smash all your financial goals this year with this list of financial tips that I have tried, tested and saved big from using!
1- stop buying unnecessary groceries
If we all know one thing about grocery shopping, it is that it adds up REALLY quickly. A ‘quick trip to the shops for milk’ can soon turn into a $60 trip with snacks, eggs, ice cream and gum added to the cart. But how does one stop overspending and over-shopping?
a) ALWAYS go to the shops with a list and stick to it
I won’t spend too much time on this topic because it is obvious, but still important to mention. No matter how little you are going to the shops, you must ALWAYS write a list.
A list allows you to see what you need because you can write it while looking in your fridge and pantry. It gives you visual cues for your grocery store trip and enables you ONLY to have to visit the areas where you need to purchase food from.
However, you need to promise yourself before entering the store that you will COMMIT TO THE LIST and only purchase what items are on there. If this scares you too much when you first start your list writing, you can give yourself some flexibility. So, what I used to do is leave three empty spaces on my list for items I couldn’t think of in the moment of list writing but knew I would remember once at the store. Then, as I got better at list writing, I didn’t need the empty spots anymore.
b) stop purchasing products that are easily made at home, for less money and less packaging
Aaah the good ‘ole grocery store trick – we go and see an amazingly convenient product and just have to get it. This can range from pre-spiralled zucchini pasta to frozen berries to even your daily cleaners. And all these items are marked up and sold for a price that at the moment might seem reasonable, but over time burns a hole in your wallet.
So, the solution for this problem is straightforward; if you become more organised with your shopping, you will be able to DIY theses items and not only save money but also save packaging which equals a happy planet.
Some of the most simple changes I made was to stop buying pre-frozen fruit and vegetables. Instead, I started buying the fruit and vegetables I wanted to freeze from local farmers markets or the discounted section in the fresh food aisle. This allowed me to buy bulk quantities and freeze them myself.
My biggest tip if you start doing this is to ensure you cut up your produce and freeze it as soon as you get home from shopping; this ensures you get the job done early, so the food doesn’t go off in the fridge waiting for you to prep it.
Another way I saved was by making my cleaner out of white vinegar, baking soda and water (with the occasional addition of dish soap, if needed). This solution removes soap scum, kitchen counter stains and all general households messes. I just prep this solution in a spray bottle and I have a cleaner that cost me under $5!
2- Marie Kondo your life, but mainly your clothes
At the end of last year, I did the BIGGEST closet cleanout I have ever done. This involved three people, four hours and five massive bags that got immediately taken to the local charity shop.
Now, I had read and heard about how freeing closet cleanouts are, but I never expected to find it so cleansing and freeing of my frivolous shopping desire. Pre-clean-out, I was a massive shopper. New clothes were coming into my closet almost as fast as I forgot about them. I had tops and pants everywhere in my closet but still couldn’t find ANYTHING to wear. And that was purely because I was overwhelmed by the massive piles of fast fashion I had stuffed in my small apartment closet.
But now, with my reduced down and cleaned up wardrobe I can always find something to wear and can happily say I have not purchased ONE new clothing item since that cleanout in November.
Now, this isn’t to say I will never buy clothes again, but my mindset when it comes to adding to my closet is so much more clearer now. I now see something and ask myself “where will I put it/will it fit in my wardrobe?” and if my answer is no or I am unsure then it is a NO from me. And so far, it has worked.
3- shop local
I briefly mentioned this tip above, but I am going to be more specific in this point. Shopping local transformed my spending, especially my grocery costs. Farmers markets and local groceries have some fantastic deals and allow you to see exactly where your food is coming from. Also going to the Saturday or Sunday markets makes me feel committed to eating healthy and taking the time to prep my meals; leading to more meal prep which reduces overall food costs.
So, next time you need fresh food, ditch the grocery store and look up where your local markets are.
4- track your spending
BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET! It is a word that is always thrown around in the savings world and one that sounds boring and overrated, but budgeting changed my money world.
Not only did it give me a clear insight into my spending habits which were a mix of good and bad, but it has enabled me to take full responsibility of my money. So, no more ‘accidental overspends’ or ‘forgotten spending’ because now I have to physically record EVERY bit of money that comes into my accounts and that leaves my accounts.
I use THIS budget template from Natalie Barbu, which I have added extra pages to to suit my accounts and income situation. But this template as it comes is a fantastic starting point, and I couldn’t recommend it more (+ it’s free).
5- find ways to make your favourite meals at home
I don’t know about you, but Thai Food is MY FAVOURITE food on this planet and lucky for me there are approximately 1 million Thai restaurants near where I live. So unfortunately, this convenience led me to lots of dinners out with friends which meant spending lots of money on the same meal (sometimes multiple times a week).
But here’s the thing, I LOVE cooking, and I cook all the time for myself, for friends and my family – but for some reason I just wasn’t cooking my favourite meals at home.
So I set myself a challenge, cook my Thai food order at home with healthier ingredients to see how easy it was and how much money I saved.
And the results?
Well, I have cooked so many pad thai’s and red curries, it is INSANE! And instead of spending $20+ on Thai food nights out, I am spending less than $5 a meal that I can stretch to feed me 2-3 times.
So moral of the story? You don’t have to cut your favourite meals out of your life, just stop looking at them as takeaway meals only. And instead, view them as a meal you can create in your kitchen, with your ingredients for less of your own money.
6- STOP buying drinks out and about
$4 water, $5 coffee, $7 bubble tea, $12 smoothies… Over $20 worth of beverages that most of us would buy in one to two days! And all of these drinks are ones that can be prepared at home for over ¼ of the price.
So, grab yourself a water bottle, reusable coffee mug and smoothie cup and start prepping your beverages at home. Not only will it save you money, but it gives you total drink customisation ability.
This tip is a short one but is one that will save you so much $$, as well as unneeded waste from disposable cups – keeping your wallet and the planet happy :).
7- get honest about your saving goals
There is secrecy around money that I am so lucky to have not been exposed to growing up. I come from a family that have always been open about money and savings approaches. My parents opened a bank account for me when I was extremely young, and I was taught the importance of saving and budgeting from a young age with my bank withdrawals being limited to school holidays ONLY.
But, as I have grown up and spoken to others, I realise how secretive and how uncomfortable people feel talking about money.
Now I am not saying you should be telling people how much you earn or how much is currently in your savings account. All I am saying is that speaking openly to friends and family you feel comfortable with about money triumphs and downfalls is so essential for increased financial confidence. I have learned so much about saving and spending from my family and friends that I couldn’t imagine not having an open money conversation avenue with them.
So, maybe it’s time to open up about money and tell people your goals, which in turn will make you accountable to stick to them, but could also lead to you inspiring your friends and family to take control of their finances, too.
8- open up additional accounts to breakdown saving
Ever since opening up extra accounts where I can deposit money for specific financial commitments my saving ability and confidence has grown so much.
I am currently with a few different banks and within these banks I have a mix of accounts that I use for saving, spending both long term and short.
I also utilise UP and have a variety of Saver accounts with them labelled ‘Travel’, ‘Bills’, ‘Health’ and more. I transfer into these accounts after every paycheck to ensure I always have money for each aspect of my life. I also have an account where I transfer leftover spending money every month which acts as my rainy day account for extra boosts to spending requirements.
9- check the cost of your New Year’s resolutions
Like many, healthy eating and exercise are part of your 2020 New Year’s resolutions which is FANTASTIC. But, that doesn’t mean you need to spend big to get fit. Gyms and meal delivery services add up very quickly, and unfortunately, we live in a time where lock-in contracts can hinder us more than help us.
So, before locking yourself into a new gym or meal service, ensure you shop around and understand what you are signing yourself up for. Read reviews to see other’s experiences so you know that you can commit to what you are paying for in the long term. Because, NO ONE wants to be paying for something they don’t use or don’t like.
Also, I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but seeking out free or discounted group fitness sessions in your local area is a great way to save big on your resolutions. Also, utilising youtube exercise videos and local parks to do your workout sessions in is something that I often do for some free but effective fitness approaches.
10 – don’t be afraid to say no/don’t fall into the FOMO trap
This is a bit of a weird one because I don’t want you to feel restricted and look at financial control as inhibiting, but I want you to feel in control of your money and not bowing down to FOMO will help with this.
Learning to say no or taking rain-checks is not a bad thing, and for some reason, society has made us feel like it is. If going out every weekend with work friends or only ever eating out as your social occasions is stressing you out, then this may be an indicator that for yourself and your wallet you need to start selecting your spending events more wisely. At first the FOMO can be rough, especially with social media showing all your friends hanging out. But once you start to feel more controlled and confident with your finances, the financial strain that these events can cause will reduce, and you can ease yourself back into attending these outing more regularly; understanding your spending abilities and limits.
11- invest to save
This tip at first might sound like it is going against everything I’ve just explained, but just keep reading, and it will all make sense. Sometimes you need to put out more to reap the long term benefits.
For example, recently, my Nutribullet stopped working, and I needed a new blender. Now, I had one of the higher end Nutribullet’s which was gifted to me a few years ago, but now I had to go and fork out for my own. So, the first thing I did was look at the cheapest and ‘best’ blenders on the market and started reading reviews, and nothing was selling me. But then I came across the KitchenAid blender which had fantastic reviews, was the perfect size for my kitchen and came in the colour I liked; but it came with quite a price tag. And even after I went into stores, this blender was still coming out on top which led me to trust the reviews and splurge (within reason) on something I knew I will use every day for a very long time.
I also had a similar situation with my brand new couch. When I first moved in, I got a cheap fabric couch from the discount furniture store, but within 18 months I had fallen out of love with the couch because I really only got it because it was a good deal. So when it was time for a new couch, I decided to spend that little bit more to get my dream couch that I have always loved (a three-seater brown leather couch); knowing it is a timeless investment piece for my home.
Please note, this tip is not applicable for everyday spending, and it shouldn’t be! And also unfortunately can’t tell you what purchases are worth the investment and what ones are not because everyone is different. However, if you can see that spending more increases the longevity of the product and you know you will love it more, then it may be worth spending more to get what you really want for the long term. Which reduces the potential of you having to buy a new item sooner.
12- prepare for bills extra early
Living out of home has taught me so many things in a short amount of time, and one of the biggest things was the importance of paying bills on time and in a financially prepared manner.
So, after many ‘OMG that is due today’ moments, I have streamlined by bill payment approaches to ensure I am always prepared.
- I firstly always pay my bills the day before they are due. This allows the money to sit in my account for as long as possible earning interest before I spend it.
- I also take a percentage out of each paycheck to deposit into my bills accounts, so I really never see the money until I need to pay for something. This also prevents any risk of not having money for bills (which is very reassuring).
- I also always ensure I input bills into my monthly budget first thing so I can amend my monthly spending goal to match the increased expenditure for that month.
- Finally, I get all my bills emailed to me, which is very handy but also makes it very easy to forget about them in my mailbox. To combat this issue, whenever I get a bill I print it and stick it on my fridge and mark the due date in my physical diary and my phone calendar with an alert attached. This ensures I never forget about my bills and know precisely when larger sums of money will be coming out of my accounts.
13- don’t buy anything without asking yourself these questions
So you are in a store or shopping online, and you have an item (or multiple) in your cart, and you proceed to the checkout. BUT WAIT! Before you hand over your money, ask yourself the following questions (and be honest with yourself) to find out whether this purchase is an impulse or not.
Why do I want to purchase this?
Where will I store it?
Will I still be utilising it in 6 months?
If you do not answer yes to all of these questions, then from my experience I would say that the item you want to buy may be a more frivolous purchase that you can pass on or save for a later date.
14- pre-cut and prep your food
Want to know the first thing I do when I get home from grocery shopping? I cut up all my fruit and vegetables and store them in airtight containers.
Why do I do this?
Well, have you ever looked in your fridge and seen ‘nothing to eat’ because the watermelon isn’t cut up yet or the carrots are too much of a pain to peel and cut up? Because I have and this mentality often resulted in me eating a packaged and processed snack because it was more convenient, or it led me to go out to get food which was a waste of money and of the food I had at home.
So, now I ensure I schedule food prep into my grocery shopping time. Generally to get everything prepped it only takes 30 minutes, and after I am done all my food it convenient to grab on the go and cook with straight away.
Also, this tip makes your fridge and pantry look SUPER organised and aesthetically pleasing #shelfie
15- make budgeting fun
Colour coding, podcasts, Youtube videos and stickers; these are all ways I made my relationship with money and budgeting one that I enjoy.
I draw inspiration and budgeting guidance from a multitude of Youtube channels and podcasts. They offer a format of education where the content is presented in an aesthetically pleasing form that is both engaging and interesting. I started my budgeting journey by watching and listening to budgeting content online. And even now I still commonly refer to them for advice and inspiration on how to maximise my budgeting.
Some of my favourite channels:
Some of my favourite podcasts:
She’s On The Money
Now, for my budgeting, I use an excel document and pretty much everything for me is electronic. However, I still have fun stickers and highlighters that I place in my diary that mark my paydays, when my bills a due, days I need to transfer money between accounts and also my money breakdown for what is going in which account. Although I budget electronically, I still find it beneficial to have the written cues in my everyday diary so I can take them on the go to ensure everything is running smoothly in my finances.
16- mix up your social plans
When it comes to saving, going out for dinner and drinks multiple times a week just isn’t going to cut it, but you can’t look at this as a restrictive approach. Alternatively, think of it as a challenge- how many new ways can you hang out with friends and family and find new things to do where you live that a super cheap or free?
Having late chat nights, cooking dinner at home, going for coffee instead of for full meals, utilising discount websites and apps, going to markets or walks are all ways to reduce but not restrict your expenditure in your social life.
Also, another tip that I use is to go to BYO restaurants if you are going out for dinner. As long as the corkage is reasonable, you will save heaps by bringing along a reasonably priced bottle of wine (or two) and sharing it with everyone. With corkage being a one off payment and a bottle of wine being between 4-5 glasses with an average bottle price of $20 – $30; you could be spending between $4-$ 6 a glass. Compared to the $10-20 per glass drinks that the restaurants sell, it is easy to see why this tip will saves you lots of $$ without impeding on your night out!
17- stop buying your lunch at work
When I first got a job when I was 15, one of the quickest money vacuums that I got sucked up in was buying my lunch. Discovering all the yummy food court food that was ‘cheap’ and eating that multiple times a week for a few years was not only bad for my health but also my wallet.
Now, the food I was buying wasn’t unhealthy, and it generally consisted of salads from a close-by vegan or salad bar. However, take out food still has a lot of unnecessary additives in it that you wouldn’t add in at home. And also, even though that massive chicken salad is ‘only $8’, that $8 was coming out of my account three times a week which in a month was costing me almost $100.
So to stop this, I started meal prepping very easy and portable meals that I could freeze or leave in the fridge for up to a week. That involved making extra dinner so I could take it for lunch the next day, always having canned tuna and corn thins on hand, purchasing multiple travel containers to store and carry the food in and overall being more aware and mindful of always having meals in the fridge that I could chuck in my bag on my way to work.
18- come armed with snacks
When it comes to being organised with your food, to prevent unnecessary granola bar or brownie purchases while out and about, never leave home without some form of snack.
The snacks I always take with me include fruit, seed crackers or some form of home-baked cookie or granola bar.
I try to always stick to homemade snacks because it works out cheaper and in my opinion yummier too! However, if you do not want to bake or don’t have time, having a stockpile of some kind of snack you can chuck in your bag is fantastic! THESE are my favourite ones that I keep in my pantry as snack backups.
19- I’m bringing cash back, yeah!
In the rise of debit cards and electronic payment options, cash is a form of payment that seems to be very quickly fading into the background and becoming ‘the old way to pay’. But I disagree, and I am an advocate for cash to have a resurgence.
Cash is a tangible item that you physically see reducing in your wallet as you spend it, and it is something you have to give away to someone else with each purchase. And with a card, you just do not get that experience! You can just tap, tap, tap all day long and can easily never go back and see where your money is going (I used to do this ALL the time). However, since I started getting my spending money out in cash each fortnight, I am so much more aware of how I am spending by funds.
And if I have a particularly big spending day, I can see the reduction in my wallet, and it forces me to acknowledge my spending for that day and become more conscious of my expenditures for the rest of that week.
Alternatively, if cash isn’t possible for you to carry with you or to access, always hold on to your receipts. This method works in the opposite way that cash does as you are collecting paper instead of handing it out when buying things. But it still gives you a visual way to review your spending daily or weekly to keep you accountable for your expenses. You can also scroll through your bank transactions history to review your payments as well, but I think a tangible approach is more beneficial for saving goals.
*When paying in cash, I always make sure to keep my receipts so I can put the spending into my budget as well!
20- focus on the end goal to make these changes more bearable
I know that this post was super long and there is a lot to take in, but all of these tips are made so much easier to integrate when you have a clear end goal as to why you want to get your spending organised. So what is saving goals? To buy a home? Go on a holiday? Get a new car? Or just to ensure that when you finish school, Uni or your job that you have enough money to sustain you as you grow?
Whatever it is, write it down and continually remind yourself daily when you make financial decisions. Envisioning yourself at the end, having reached your goals is so rewarding and will make you so happy that you didn’t buy that one cup of coffee or top because everything adds up!
That concludes the 20 ways you can save big in 2020! I hope you found some of these tips and tricks that I use daily helpful. And if you have any other suggestions, let me know! These tips come from personal experience, and I am in no way a financial advisor. This is not professional advice. Please seek professional financial advice if you need.
Also note that all links in this post are linked as recommendations and all opinions are my own.