Smart ways to overhaul your family budget

Fast, easy ways to keep more of your cash in your pocket

It can be pretty tough to make ends meet nowadays, particularly if you’re unemployed, a student, on government benefits or trying to get by on a low income. Setting and sticking to a household budget is crucial when every cent counts and you need to keep your cash on track.

But just as important as setting and using your budget is giving it a quick check and refresh every now and then. Once a month is a great idea, so you can be sure it’s up to date and you’ve got your spending (and hopefully some saving!) under control. Spend ten minutes or so giving your cash, budget and expenses the once over, and you can be sure you’re on the right track to achieving your financial goals – leaving you to focus on enjoying life!

Here’s our top 6 tips for making some fast, easy cash savings – keeping more in your pocket.

  1. Don’t automatically renew anything!

Sure, you can save time by just automatically paying those insurance, membership and other renewals when they arrive. But you can save some big $ by taking the time to shop around and ask for a better deal.

  • Ring your provider and ask for a better deal. They’re often happy to drop their price a little if it means keeping your business.
  • Or make the most of free price comparison websites like iSelect and Compare The Market. They allow you to compare prices on a range of products and services including energy bills, and health, car, home, travel and life insurance, ensuring you can the best deal and coverage that suits your needs.
  1. Shrink your bills

Make sure everyone in your household is doing their bit to keep costs down.

  • Make a habit of minimising your energy usage, and encourage everyone else to do the same, especially the kids.
  • Turn off lights, heaters or air conditioners when you’re not using a room.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water, and use the outside clothesline or a small folding line inside, rather than constantly running the dryer.
  • Take advantage of off-peak energy times to run appliances like your dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Every little bit counts, and you can make some huge savings on your energy bills with these simple tips.
  1. Do you really need it?

Take a good look at the things you’re paying a lot for, and consider whether you really need them – and the expense.

  • Does your car spend most of the time stuck in the garage or driveway, because you live close to great public transport or walk everywhere?
  • Consider selling it – just think of the huge amount of cash you’ll save on registration, insurance, petrol and maintenance costs.
  • Likewise if you’re paying for a gym membership yet really get there for a workout. Cancel the gym membership and get fit for free! Hit your local park for a walk or run, or try free initiatives like the Live Life Get Active
  • For some other fast and easy savings, check out our 5 things to stop paying for, right now!
  1. Everything is negotiable!

It’s your money – and don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal, every time you spend it!

  • Whether you’re shopping for a new home appliance, updating your insurance or reviewing your bank fees – negotiate on the price!
  • The amount of competition on today’s crowded market place means most businesses will happily compete for your dollar. They are often only too happy to tweak the price if it means keeping your business.
  • Even in retail stores – ask the sales assistant if they can offer a discount. They often can and are happy to, especially if it helps add your sale to their commission.
  • Remember – it doesn’t hurt to ask – the more of your cash you can keep in your pocket, the better!
  1. Automate your bill payments

Dodge those pesky late fees and charges by putting your regular bill payments on auto-pilot.

  • Set direct debits and automatic transfers for amounts like your monthly rent and bills, and that regular savings transfer. This also helps resist the urge to spend the cash instead!
  • Many providers offer a discount for making a direct debit, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to keep some of your cash in your pocket!
  • This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check your bills and statements when they come in. Ensure you still review them carefully, and are sure you’re getting the best deal. 
  1. Make more money

Yeah right, we hear you say? It’s easier than you might think.

  • Got a spare room? Why not consider getting a housemate – think of the extra money their rent would inject into your weekly budget.
  • If you have some crafty or arty talents, consider selling your creations at the local markets.
  • Or consider boosting your budget with some babysitting. List your services on sites like Find A Babysitter or Care for Kids.
  • Love animals? Why not make some fast cash walking dogs for busy owners, or pet sitting for families while they’re away. Advertise your party services at local groomers, vets and pet stores, or on websites like Pawshake, or Petsitters Guide.
  • Or get tempted into temping! Register with your local temp agency and take on extra work when you need extra cash. From administrative and reception work to warehouse roles and labouring, extra pairs of hands are always in hot demand.