Making Your Money Go Further

Whether you’re unemployed, a student or earning a low income, having limited cash can make it pretty tricky to stretch your money to last the week! But no matter what your circumstances, here’s some quick cash saving ideas that can help you stay on top of those pesky everyday expenses.

  1. Set yourself a budget. Knowing how much money you have, where you need to spend it and (most importantly!) sticking to it is a sure way to make your cash last the week. See our how-to guide here: 3 Quick Steps To Set A Budget.
  2. Don’t let bills surprise you.
  • Set a little cash aside for these each week, in a piggy bank or envelope, or in a dedicated bank account.
  • Know when all of your regular bills are due and use a wall calendar or set reminders in your phone so you can see when the due dates are coming up.
  • Check out the TrackMySpend app, which can send expense reminder text messages to your phone.
  • If you receive government benefits through Centrelink, why not take advantage of their Centrepay service, which enables you to pay your bills as regular deductions from your benefit payments.
  1. Minimise your rent. Got a spare room? Consider getting a flatmate to help share the expenses with.
  2. Get savvy at the supermarket! Cut down on your grocery bill with these handy tips:
  • Use a list – and don’t deviate from it.
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry. You end up with loads of extras in your trolley!
  • If you’re shopping with kids, bribe them – and we don’t mean buying them treats! Strike a deal with them before shopping that if they agree not to pester you to buy extras for them, you’ll reward them with your time afterwards – perhaps a special playground visit, time doing a puzzle, or taking a walk or bike ride together.
  • Be sure to use everything in your pantry before shopping for more. Get creative with what you have, or search online for recipe ideas that use the ingredients you already have.
  • Buy in bulk to get some good discounts. Look out for discount wholesale butchers and stock up your freezer, or split a shop with a friend.
  1. Shrink your utility bills.
  • Save on electricity by turning off lights, fans and air conditioning in rooms you’re not using.
  • Turn off the TV, computer and appliances at the power point.
  • Keep your blinds closed on hot days to keep the heat out and minimise cooling costs.
  • Be sure to completely fill the dishwasher before starting a load. Same goes for the washing machine, and use only cold wash.
  • Use a timer to keep showers short and save on hot water costs.
  • Make sure you’re on the right plan for your mobile, home phone and internet. Check how much you’re paying and whether you’re using up all your allowances. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal!
  1. Go vintage! Hit your local Op-shops and websites like Gumtree and Facebook community pages for second hand clothes and accessories, books, DVDs, toys, furniture – anything really, you’ll be amazed what you can find for next to nothing! Or why not organise a swap meet with friends.
  2. Save on trades by pooling skills with friends. Exchange services like lawn mowing, carpentry, plumbing and electrical, cake making and catering, kids party entertainment, sewing and craft, babysitting – whatever you have a talent for!
  3. Get healthy – it’s cheaper! Cut down on alcohol, coffee and smoking, take-away meals and big nights out – you won’t believe how much better you’ll feel and how much money you’ll save. And if you’re keen to add some exercise to the mix, you don’t need an expensive gym membership – remember, walking (or jogging!) is free.
  4. Get creative in the kitchen. Avoid expensive take away lunches and dine out dinners by making fresh tasty meals at home. Hit the internet for fab recipes and food blogs to get you inspired. Rather than going out for an expensive night with friends, invite them around for a fun ‘pot luck’ night where everyone brings a dish – you’ll not only save a lot of money while having fun with friends, you’ll also get some fun new recipe ideas!
  5. Lock up your credit card! Don’t undo all of your hard budgeting work by racking up a big credit card bill. Keep it tucked away for emergencies only.

Still struggling? Check out the MoneySmart website for more great tips and tricks. And if you need help, Centrelink’s Financial Information Service offers free, confidential education and information that can help you get your finances sorted.