Home Budgeting
Category

Budgeting

Living On One Income

We have spent big chunks of the last four years since our daughter was born living on one income.  Some of it was voluntarily, like the twelve months maternity leave I took after she was born.  Some of it was involuntary, like the two redundancies that followed soon after that: one for me, then once I got a part time job; one for my hubby!  Go figure!  I joke that we are not meant to have two incomes in our household, or so it seems!  Living on one income can be tough.  Really hard given the cost of living in Australia is so high and the cost of housing, well don’t get me started on that one.  However, living on one income can be done, and here are some tips to help you through.

Check out what Centrelink benefits you qualify for

Going from two incomes to one income, could mean that you might qualify for more assistance from the government than you could access previously. When my husband was made redundant and with me only working three days a week, we all of a sudden qualified for the Family Tax benefit A & B and the Childcare benefit (the means tested one).  Check out the Centrelink payment finder here, which will give you some guidance as to what centrelink payments you might qualify for.  Getting these extra payments have definitely helped.

Create a budget

If you haven’t done one, click here and see how to. Making one income stretch further is a lot easier if you use a budget.  Some people see a budget as something terrible, akin to a diet.  I prefer to think of it as a spending plan, making sure each dollar goes to our highest priorities and makes sure we get the best value for every dollar we spend.  I use the awesome free budget planner from the MoneySmart website.  Click here to check it out.

Check your spending leaks

Checking your spending leaks can also help you identify places where you can easily save money. All you have to do is to think of two things that you spend money on regularly, be it daily, weekly or monthly.  It could be a daily takeaway coffee, or weekly takeaway or monthly magazine subscriptions.  Next add up how much one of these things cost you over a month, then a year.  Now, think about how you could do that spending differently – be it bringing your lunch to work or cutting down from a large coffee to a smaller one, or buying from a cheaper supplier.  Remember, doing things differently does not have to mean that you cut things out entirely, unless you are highly motivated to do so!!  🙂 See how much this new way of doing things would cost you over a month and then a year.  Now, all you have to do is look at the difference between the two figures, how much it cost you per year using your old way versus the cost of the new way.  This is how much you could save by changing your spending behavior.  In my case I calculated I could save $2,184 simply by bringing my lunch to work and making my own hot chocolate in the office.  A huge figure, especially given I only work 3 days per week!

Meal Plan

Before the hubster was made redundant I used to meal plan for the week. So sit down usually on a Saturday and figure out everything we needed for a week of meals, create a list and purchase it all on the Sunday.  It was fab because I knew what we were having on each day and already had the ingredients ready to roll.  It prevented any random trips to the shops where I might bring home a few extras, shall we say.  At the moment our system is a bit out of whack.  My hubby does the meal plans for the 3 days I am at work (I don’t want to get in the way of him making dinner :-)) and I do the rest.  It still works fine and overall substantially cuts our food bill by at a guess at least 20%.

Compare, compare, compare….

On all your major expenses do a ring around or use online comparison sites to make sure you are getting the best deal. From your insurance to your telephone bill and everything in between make sure that you have got the best service to meet the needs of your family at the best available price.  I try to do the ring around once a year on all my services to make sure I am getting the best deal, and it can really make a big difference to your budget.  For example, by changing electricity provider I have saved $400 off my winter electricity bill, absolutely worth the two hours of leg-work it took for me to figure it all out.

Living on one income is difficult but it is achievable.  I hope my tips will make it easier for you and your family.

What are your tips for living on a single income?

If you liked this post you might also like

How I saved On My Electricity Bill

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Is Costco Membership Worth It

15 Ways To Save Money In 2015

If you would like to read more from me in 2015 don’t forget to sign up to my weekly email using the form below:




Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice. Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances

 

 

23/04/2015 15 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Redundancy

I think I am in a pretty unique position to write about redundancy.  You see, I have been made redundant twice during my career and my hubby was made redundant at the start of 2014.  So a score of 3 for our family so far.  The first time I was made redundant was in 2004, when the British hedge fund I was working for packed up its Australian office and moved back to the UK.  One minute we all had jobs.  The next minute none of us did.  The model we were trading off hadn’t been performing, so we kind of saw it coming.  Even then it was a shock.  The second time I was made redundant was in 2012.  It was my 39th birthday and I was 11 months in from my return from maternity leave when I was taken into the little room and told my services were no longer required.  I was told it was cost cutting.  Enough said.

Redundancy is a stressful time and can be a time of really powerful, often very mixed, emotions.  Most of the time it is a shock.  It changes everything and throws you onto a completely different path that you did not see coming.  Given we have been through it a few times in our household, here are some of my tips on how to not only survive redundancy moneywise, but come out of it better and happier than ever….

Let’s start on the money front:

  1. Figure out what Centrelink benefits you qualify for:

    I am not just talking about Newstart, but it is handy to know what you have to do to qualify for this. In our case, when my hubby got made redundant and with me working only 3 days a week, we all of a sudden qualified for the Family Tax benefit A & B and the Childcare benefit (the means tested one).  Now you know how much income you are getting from the redundancy you can change your income estimate in mygov and contact Centrelink and see what they say.  You might also find the Centrelink payment calculator useful.  Click here to see it.  Getting these extra payments have helped to cushion our finances during this time.

  2. Think about what to do with your lump sum payment

    Depending on your terms and conditions and how long you were employed for you can get a decent pay out. Now I cannot tell you what to do with yours, if you want specific advice you should see a financial planner, however, for us we have always made sure that our payments were readily accessible, as you never know how long it will take you to find another job.   Since we have a mortgage we put redundancy payments into our mortgage offset account.  It helps to pay off the mortgage but allows us to easily access to the cash.  Click here to see how an offset account works.

  3. Create a budget

    If you haven’t done one, click here and see how to. If you have done one, your redundancy means it is time to change it.  You would be surprised how many of your costs can disappear, lunches at work, travel costs, uniforms or clothes.  We have found ourselves eating out less as we have more time to prepare, plan and cook meals at home.  Also while you have the time, review your expenses.  For each expense figure out whether you really need it and if there is a way to do it differently that will save you money.  For example I rang around our insurance providers to make sure we were getting the best deal.

  4. Check your insurance in your superannuation fund

    I had income protection and life insurance in my superannuation. When I checked the terms and conditions on my insurance as it turns out my income protection insurance was no longer valid on my redundancy.  So I cancelled it.  I am sure they would have merrily collected the premiums but not paid out should I claim while I did not have a job.  So check your terms of your insurance and see if your redundancy makes a difference.  Just remember to put your income protection insurance back on when you get another job 🙂

  5. Think broadly about your skill set and what you might be able to do
    I was a stock market analyst for 17 years, now I blog and train social workers about money. Quite different in many respects but I love how I am using my knowledge-base in a completely different way.  You don’t have to do what you have always done.  You have a wonderful skill base.  Think about how it might be used in a totally different way.  I promise you that you won’t regret it.
  6. Ride the emotional roller coaster

    Being made redundant is an emotional time. You might feel angry, you might feel lost (even if you hated your job), you might feel rejected.  On the days that you feel those emotions know it is perfectly normal.  Redundancy is a big change, it will come with hiccups.  I know it is really hard but try not to take it personally.  Businesses are big machines and they will roll over you if deemed necessary, no matter how good/loyal/hard-working you are.  Rest assured that it is not your fault.

I don’t regret my two redundancies.  They were gifts in disguise and have led me to do things that I would never have dreamed I would be doing.  My last one has allowed me to take a job that gives me more time with my precious daughter and to work in an area I am hugely passionate about and find deeply satisfying.  I finally have a job that makes a real difference.  And, well, you would not be reading this right now without my redundancy as Money Mummy would not exist.  Let’s just say I am not a very good housewife, so created Money Mummy so I had something to do during my redundancy-induced time off :-)!!  Good luck on your redundancy journey, you will be amazed where you will end up.  However, when you are feeling low please repeat after me “One door shuts, another door opens”.  It worked for me :-).

Have you been made redundant?  What are your tips for surviving it?

If you liked this you might also like:

Where To Get Financial Help For Free

5 Simple Savings Ideas That Everyone Can Use

How Much Your Credit Card Debt Is Really Costing You

How Much Can You Save By Shopping at Aldi?

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

 

22/10/2014 19 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
MoneySmart Week Challenge

The first week of September is a very exciting week in my calendar.  It is MoneySmart week!!!  For those who haven’t heard of MoneySmart week, it is a week dedicated to taking simple steps to make a positive difference to your finances.  It is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about your money and improve your money management skills.

To help us all do this, this year the people at MoneySmart Week have come up with seven FREE money challenges:

  • Ditch your debt (credit and debt)
  • Sort your super (superannuation)
  • Manage your money (budgeting)
  • Protect what’s precious (insurance)
  • Build your worth (saving & investing)
  • Plan ahead (estate planning)
  • Female financial fitness

There is also an eighth challenge for Under 18s called Start Early!

Each challenge gives you 3 easy steps to help you get on top of that issue.  All the challenges are completely FREE!!

So, don’t miss this opportunity to get you finances in order.  Pick an area (or two, or three or more) and take the challenge!

Also, if you share the fact you are doing a MoneySmart challenge on social media you could win one of seven daily prizes of a $500 gift card.  Please refer to the MoneySmart Week website below for the full details.

I will be doing all the challenges (except the youth one as I don’t really qualify anymore 🙂 ) so make sure you pop over to the Money Mummy Facebook page during MoneySmart Week to see how I am going with the challenges.

To find out more about the challenges, the social media competition and to register click here and visit the official MoneySmart Week website.

What will your MoneySmart Challenge be?

 

If you liked this post, you might also like:

5 Websites That Will Make or Save You Money

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Where To Get Financial Help For Free

How To Create A Budget

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

20/08/2014 27 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
websites that make or save you money

The best ways to save or make extra money are the easy ones.  So here are 5 of my favourite websites that I have used to save and/or make me a little extra money.

(1) The Centrelink Payment Finder

Dealing with Centrelink is hard and quite often it is really difficult and time consuming to figure out what you are entitled to.  The Centrelink Payment Finder makes it really simple and quickly allows you to figure out what you could receive.  It is one of my absolute faves and has alerted me to potential payments that I had no idea I could receive.  Click here to check it out.

(2) Unclaimed Money

I love to do an Unclaimed Money search.  It takes all of 20 seconds and is completely free.  Potentially it could find you any lost bank accounts, shares or life insurance policies that you might have forgotten about.  I always just search on my last name to make the search as broad as possible.  Don’t forget to search your partner’s name and any relatives to see if they have anything owing to them.  Doing the search is quick, easy and potentially could find you an extra bit of spending money :-).  Click here to do your own unclaimed money search.

(3) Energy Made Easy

This is a government site that helps you to find the best electricity deal for you.  When my electricity bill was hurtling out of control this is where I went to find a better deal for my family.  Click here to read post about how much I saved by changing electricity providers and here to visit the Energy Made Easy site.

(4) ATO’s SuperSeeker 

Apparently for every worker employed in Australia there are 3 superannuation accounts.  That means there are stacks of us out there with multiple superannuation accounts.  The main problem with this is that it is costing us all a fortune in fees.  The best way to stop wasting money on fees is to consolidate you superannuation into one account.  Most people think you have to fill in a tonne of forms to do this but you don’t, you can simply use the Taxation Departments SuperSeeker site.  The site also helps you to find your lost superannuation, so you can make sure you keep what is rightfully yours for your retirement.  The process is surprisingly easy.  In fact so easy even my husband could do it.  Read about how he found and consolidated his superannuation using SuperSeeker here and click here to access the SuperSeeker website.

(5) Money Smart’s Budget Planner

Many websites would have you believe that you need to pay to have a good household budget planner to help you to save money.  That is certainly not true.  I used the free budget planner from the MoneySmart website and it worked a treat for me.  Click here to read how I used it to make a budget for my family and click here to download your own free budget planner from MoneySmart.  It is easy to use and will help you on your way to saving more money.

If you liked this post you might also like:

How Much Can You Save By Shopping At Aldi

How To Save Money On Your Health Insurance

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

 

25/06/2014 45 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Household budget

It is the start of the year and so it is time for those darn New Years resolutions.  Exercise more?  Drink less?  Lose weight?   All noble options but none of these are it for me this year.  (Mind you, I could probably do with all three!!!)   However, this year my New Year’s resolution is to develop a budget for the Money household.  What?!!?  I hear you gasp, surely with a name like ‘Money Mummy’ budgeting is second nature?  Well, actually no.  It is not to say I haven’t thought about it, but this year is the time to actually do it.  So this is how I have gone about making my family budget from scratch……

The first step to developing your budget is to figure out what you spend.   There are lots of ways of doing this from writing it all down, to using an app on your phone or keeping all your receipts in a plastic bag.  In our case most of our transactions are done on card (either credit or debit), so I simply downloaded 3 months of transactions from internet banking into Excel and put each month on a separate sheet.  I then used Excel’s ‘sort’ function to put similar transactions from each month together and added them up.

Next I went to the MoneySmart website and downloaded the Excel version of their budget planner (see it here).  MoneySmart is run by the government.  The budget planner is very comprehensive and the best part is it is free!!!  This planner allows you to figure out exactly what you earn then gives you all the main categories you need to sort out your spending.   From there I just filled in how much we earned and how much we spent in every category that was relevant to us, using the data downloaded from internet banking.  For variable expenses (those that change from month to month), such as the supermarket shopping, I looked at how much was spent on each of the 3 months, then took an average.   For expenses that occur once a year, I simply put the annual figure into the planner and it calculated the monthly amount.  Really simple.

Once all the numbers were in, we discovered that we were spending more than we were earning!  Ouch!  Not by a huge amount but it is still not where we want to be.  So the hubby and I sat down and discussed what changes we thought we needed to make to get us back on track.  You can’t argue with the numbers so having them in front of us was a great tool to open up honest, frank and factual discussions on money.

We decided to choose four areas to focus on which we think will make the greatest impact to our financial position.  These were:

  1. Cash:  through the budgeting process we figured out we were spending a lot of cash, which is difficult to track.  Instead of tracking that spend, we decided to give ourselves a limited weekly cash budget, substantially less than we are currently spending and see how that works.
  2. We spend far too much on takeaway and eating out.  We have decided to limit ourselves to one takeaway meal per week and one meal outside the home on weekends.  This hopefully will do our bank balance and our waistlines some good!
  3. We are going to review our grocery spend and look for ways to reduce our expenditure.  Ideas on how we will do this will be outlined in a future post.
  4. We are spending a lot on utilities, particularly electricity.  I went some way to rectifying this when I changed provider late last year (read about it here) but now we are all going to focus on usage.

Creating a budget was a far easier process that I ever expected.  Though, I will admit at times it was quite confronting, especially when I figured out how much we were spending on eating out!!!  However, knowledge is power and I feel it is better to actually know where our money is going.   An additional benefit is that having the numbers in front of us meant Mr Money and I had a great platform on which to base our money discussion and make joint decisions about our money issues.  This process has certainly put us on the same page money-wise and has given us the facts about what we actually spend.

Now we know where we are at and what we want to do about it, it is time to follow through with action.  A budget is not a static thing to be left in the corner.  Every month I will be checking our spending and seeing how we are going and talking it through with Mr Money.  I expect given we have just started there will be a fair degree of ‘tweaking’ involved in the coming months, but I will keep you all informed on how we go.

If you liked this post you might also like:

How I saved On My Electricity Bill

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Is Costco Membership Worth It

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

 

15/01/2014 33 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Save Money On Your Wedding

This post is brought to you by Bride.com.au

Planning your wedding is a super exciting time but it is so easy to get carried away and have your budget blown out of the water.  There is a whole industry set up to help you spend your money on a raft of things to make your day ‘perfect’.  Add the ‘W’ (Wedding) word to any conversation and it is amazing how fast the costs escalate.  So what is the best way to have the day you want without being saddled with debt that lasts far longer than the big day?

Firstly, you need to set a wedding budget (or spending plan if you like that term better :-)).  Sit down with your partner and anyone else who is helping you pay for the wedding and be clear who is contributing what and how much the total budget is.  Discussing money is difficult but it is better to have these conversations up front, as you do not want any money resentments to creep in and harm your relationship, especially when you are just starting out on your new life together.

No one has an endless budget, except maybe Kim Kardashian, so the next thing is to figure out your priorities.  What are the things that you and your partner feel are most important to make your day what you want it to be?  Everybody is different so for some people it is all about the dress or the venue or the cake.  Make sure you rank your priorities.  This ranking will give you guidance on how to spend your budget.

I got married in 2007.  We wanted a relaxed, fun wedding, that wasn’t too traditional and reflected us as a couple.  Our priorities were the food at the reception, the cake and some photography.   Lesser ranking priorities were the invites, flowers, bonbonniere, bridesmaids outfits and transport to the wedding.  Our budget was $10,000 and these are the ways we made our budget stretch further:

(1)    Avoid getting married in the big cities if you can.  We had a choice of getting married in Sydney or my husband’s home town of Rotorua in New Zealand.  Rotorua, despite being know as ‘the smelly town’, was an easy choice.  He had more family than me and everything was a lot cheaper than Sydney.  The favourable Australian dollar/New Zealand dollar exchange rate gave our budget an extra 20% boost!

(2)    Keep the guest list down.  My husband is Maori, so he has a tonne of relatives.  We could have had a cast of thousands but we decided to talk to his family and find out who we absolutely had to invite.  In the end we invited 29 people, mind you 36 turned up but that is another story!  Keeping the numbers down is a big money and stress saver.  You actually have time to talk to your guests as opposed to being on some tour of duty!!!  We were lucky as we were paying for the wedding it meant that we had more control over the guest list, which made it easier.

(3)    Skip traditions that don’t work for you.  We totally dumped the idea of bonbonniere.  We figured none of our guests would want another candle or packet of sugared almonds.  It saved us time and money.

(4)    Get your craft on.  Making things your self can save you money and give a real personal touch.  We had a friend make our wedding invitations for us.  Friends of mine have made their own head-pieces, wrist- pieces and table settings.

(5)    Say ‘Yes to the dress’, but keep it in perspective.  You don’t think it at the time but your wedding dress is something that you will probably never wear again.  Mine was worn once and has sat in the closet ever since.  Given the dress was never a major thing for me, it was a great place to keep costs down.   I did look into renting, but they tended to be the more ‘princess’ style dresses not really my thing.  I thought about going non-traditional, but in the end I settled on a simple dress and got 10% off for paying upfront.  Then a further 10% off when I took it out of the country to my wedding!  One of the advantages of getting married overseas!

(6)    Figure out if there is something your bridesmaid/s can wear that they already own.  Yes I really did this!  (Check out the photo above!) My bridesmaids wore black and something they already owned.  Yes they didn’t match but that was not important to me.  I wanted them to be comfortable and happy and not roped into wearing some dress that they never liked or would wear again.

(7)    If you hire a photographer, don’t have them for the whole day.  Photography is crazy expensive.  We had a fantastic photographer but we only hired her for a few hours around the ceremony.  For the reception we just had friends and family take pictures and we put some disposable cameras on the table for some very funny selfies!

(8)    Skip the video all together, we just had a couple of friends video the ceremony for us on their hand held cameras.

(9)    Shop around.   It pays to shop around and if you are spending a lot of money don’t be afraid to ask for a discount.  You might be surprised what suppliers will do to get your business.  Check Facebook and Esty for many wonderful small businesses that might be more affordable.

(10) Keep it simple.  Try and keep it as simple as possible so that you enjoy it and your budget will thank you for it.

Weddings can be expensive affairs.  Make sure you set your budget and stick to it.  I always remember what my mother told me when ‘financial problems walk in the door, love flies out the window’.  So make sure you don’t fall into the trap of starting your new married life with an unmanageable wedding debt and make sure most of all that you relax and enjoy your big day.  It goes really fast!

This sponsored post is brought to you by:

Bride.com.au: the best place to find inspirational wedding ideas, competitions, advice and the latest in bridal fashion and style.  Click here to visit their website or here to follow them on facebook.

If you liked this post you might also like:

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

How I Saved Big On My Electricity Bill

How To Boost Your Superannuation For Free

Is Costco Membership Worth It?

03/12/2013 15 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Save Electricity Bill

I hate to think about it, but our electricity bill is high, really high.  I opened it recently and was shocked to find it was $1400 for the last quarter!  Ouch! Okay our house is all electric with no gas, but really?  It is not even a big house, it is a small house.  We don’t even have hordes of people living with us.  It is just the 3 of us.  Yes, the bill was for over the winter period but even then it seems ridiculous.  Surely I could get a better deal?

With my mission set, I went off in search of more spark for my buck.   My first stop was the Australian Government website called ‘Energy Made Easy’ (click here to check it out)   This site is designed to help you compare all the electricity and gas retailers in your area to see if you are on the best energy deal for your needs.  All you need is a recent bill and they will give you a run down on the most appropriate deals for your location and usage levels.

From the bill I needed:

(1)    The time period for the bill

(2)    The total amount of electricity we used (usually on the second page)

Then the only other things I needed were my postcode and what type of tariff you are on (they help you figure out that).  The results came back that there were 3 providers that had the best deals for me and interestingly they were 3 companies that I had never heard of!!

Next I visited the individual company’s websites.  As it turned out one of the companies was in Tasmania so they were out of the running given I lived in New South Wales!!!  So I contacted the remaining two companies and got them to give me a call.  It is a bit of a pain to have to go through all the rigmarole of talking to the companies – but nothing beats leg-work when it comes to getting a great deal!  Besides you learn a lot about how your bill works and how electricity is charged.

In the end I went with a company that gives me:

(1)    A rate structure that is far more favourable than my current provider.

(2)    5% off the total bill for paying on time.  This is an easy win for us as I always pay on time using direct debit.  This discount alone is worth $70 a quarter off my bill as with my previous energy company I did not get any discount.  (Note: If you have a Healthcare card you are also eligible for a further discount so make sure you tell your electricity/gas or telephone company if you have one).

(3)    No surcharge for using my credit card to pay by direct debit, unlike my previous provider.

(4)    It is a two year contract but with no break fee if we leave the house.

My guesstimate this change in supplier will save us $160 per quarter or $640 per year.  Not a bad payoff for a couple of hours work.

Now my next project is to get our electricity usage down 🙂

p.s always contact your current provider before making a change and find out any costs that may be involved in switching.

If you liked this post you might also like:

10 Ways To Save On Your Electricity Bill

How To Create A Budget

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You’re A Parent

How Much Can You Save By Shopping At Aldi?

 

03/12/2013 19 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest

                                                                                                                                                                         Written by Cassandra from This Is Wellbeing

Are you fed up with the amount you spend on groceries? Me too! I refuse to accept that prices are rising and am determined to take control of my weekly spend!

My grocery shopping has always been reactive and mindless. I go to the supermarket on autopilot and buy what I think I need. This usually results in spending hundreds of dollars for about half a week!

Here are my tips for reducing your shopping bill and taking back control from the marketing beast, which is Australia’s supermarket duopoly.  My tips might not all apply to you, but I hope they trigger some thought about your own spending habits:

1. Shop locally and source alternatives to your supermarket
Research your local area for alternatives to your large supermarket. Try local farmers markets, butchers or greengrocers, online delivery services and large produce markets.
If you live regionally, source from direct farmers wholesale stores!  My local suburb even has a food swap, where you can grow your own and take your surplus to swap with a local. Check your listings with your council and local newspapers.

I have local Greek market that stocks delicatessen and produce at a fraction of the supermarkets prices. An example, I regularly get premium gypsy ham for $10 per kilogram instead of $26 per kilogram form the supermarket. Learn your prices and look around neighbouring suburbs for alternatives

2. Menu plan
This is a classic but often forgotten tip. Don’t shop hungry and without a plan!

When menu planning try to incorporate your existing ingredients and include your fresh produce which has a limited shelf life. Do a stock take of your pantry, freezer and fridge before you plan.

Try to repeat ingredients in different meals. You may get a cheaper price for a larger quantity, which will be cheaper split over multiple meals. For example, purchase bulk pack of rump steak (at a lower price per kilo) and then slice in strips for stroganoff or stir fry, and cube for stews or kebabs. Freeze the portions for use later.

3. Watch the specials and ignore the specials
It’s great to grab the specials for items you need. Be careful being swayed to purchase items with aren’t on your pre-planned list, and are not essential. It doesn’t matter if a packet of Corn Chips was only $2. It’s $2 more than you need to spend. Supermarkets conveniently put all those non-essential products in one or two aisles. Just skip those aisles!

Have you ever read a ‘Specials’ sign and seen that the original price is $2.98 and the sale price is $2.95 (true, I have seen this many times!) Not much of a saving, but I have been guilty of picking up the brand with the big red sale sign without reading (bit deceitful hey).  If you are in the market for yoghurt, and it is heavily discounted, by all means save a penny, but just take the specials you actually need and analyse the savings carefully.

4. Ditch the convenience
Supermarkets specialise in convenience. The more convenient, the more we will pay a premium for it. Take for example green beans. My local supermarket packages a portion of green beans (375 grams) and sells it at $12.00 per kilogram. However, if you buy beans loose, the cost is $8.98 per kilogram.  However, the $3.02 per kilogram saving isn’t the biggest difference. You may only really need 100 grams of beans for a dish, but you have bought nearly 4 times as much subconsciously.

For those of us that have a few extra pennies you might be thinking ‘oh well, it’s not going to break the bank’. But doesn’t it make sense to simply buy what we need and stop wasting food?

5. Be conscious to marketing when you shop
Anyone that has seen the Gruen Planet will be familiar with the commercial marketing tactics of the supermarkets. The junk food (i.e the food that is always on special, that you don’t need), is in prime position with big flashing signs. Supermarkets dedicate a lot of money to researching the best layout that promotes spending.

There is a reason that ‘peanuts’ they are placed in three different sections (Fruit & Veg, Baking & Health Section). It is to get you moving about and discovering more things you ‘need’.
Unhealthy packaged food takes prime position in the catalogues and it makes the supermarkets a lot of money by promoting extras for you to pop into your trolley.

How many times have you just gone for milk to spend $100 on other ‘stuff’? This is why milk is placed at the back of the supermarket, making you walk past the chocolate to find it. The more I’m ‘aware’ of these tactics, the more it annoys me and I purposely avoid purchasing non essentials.

6. Spend more on quality not quantity
We are a nation of over eaters. Maybe this tip doesn’t apply to you and you have found the right balance. But levels of obesity in most Western countries suggest most of us are still trying to find the right balance.

I often let supermarkets dictate portion control to me. For example, if I make some bolognaise for dinner I would use a 500 gram pack of beef for 4 serves. I intend to freeze some for later, but ultimately I overeat because ‘it’s there!’

Did you know that the recommended amount of lean beef per serve is 65 grams cooked beef. This means a serve for 4 people would be 360 grams of uncooked beef. Save money by ordering 360 grams of premium beef from a butcher! Our portions as a nation are increasing and this benefits supermarket profit, as you unintentionally eat twice what you need.

7. Motivation
Let’s be realistic here. It’s much easier to pop into the supermarket, buy mindlessly and get through the week. We are tired and need to be fed. All this planning is exhausting. What is the point if you are managing to make it through the weeks?

Well, give yourself some incentive. What could saving $50 or $100 mean to you. You could direct the extra funds to saving for a new car? Put it towards a new holiday? Or could that extra money be driven into your mortgage? An extra $200 a month towards the average mortgage of $300,000 could take 6 years and 5 months off you mortgage.

I would love to hear how you have reduced your shopping bill and share your local finds in the comments below! Good luck.

About the Author: My name is Cassandra, I write a blog with healthy recipes called This is Wellbeing.  I love food and cooking all day, so I look for economical and healthy ingredients to give my recipes some excitement!

If you liked this post you might also like:

Chrisco Hampers:  Are They Good Value?

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

25/11/2013 9 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Costco

For quite a while I have been wanting to check out a Costco store.  They promise big savings but I find it hard to stomach the concept of paying a $60 yearly membership fee for the privilege of shopping at their store, without knowing whether the savings stack up.  After much consideration, I decided to take a leap of faith and sign up for a year to find out what all the fuss was about.  So I powered off down Parramatta Road, handed over my cash and added an extra card to my wallet.  But the big question is was it all worth it?

In a word, I think, yes.  But let’s start at the beginning first.  For those who haven’t been Costco it is true American shopping experience.  Everything is super sized!  In terms of the store itself, think Bunnings with food!

But it is not just food you can buy there.  They have everything from TVs, to beer, cubby houses, lounge chairs, clothes and you can even buy an $8000 watch if you feel so inclined!

Do you have a spare $8,000?

In terms of groceries in most areas the big brands are covered but like most of these things may not have the exact product or brand you are after.

Not only is the store super sized but everything you buy is huge too!  Butter comes in 1.5kg blocks, toilet paper in slabs of 60 rolls, you can’t buy one loaf of bread you have to buy two and even Nutella comes in packs of 2×1 kilo tubs!  Luckily, the trolleys are tank sized to help you cart your haul.  Needless to say good storage space is a must if you are going to be a regular Costco shopper.

Yummmm – but maybe somewhat oversized even for me!

So what about the savings?  Are they worth it?  I think yes.  I took a random sample of 10 pretty common household items from my regular shopping list and did a quick price comparison with my local big name store.  This was the results:

Product Costco Price Quantity Local Store Price Quantity Costco Unit Price Local Store Unit Price % Saving
OMO Top Load (5kg) $54.99 10 kg $30.00 5 kg $5.50 per kg $6.00 per kg 8.33%
Finish All In One Dish Washer Tabs $37.69 112 tabs $21 48 tabs $0.34 per tab $0.44 per tab 22.73%
Cottonelle Toliet Paper $25.38 60 rolls $15.99 24 rolls $0.42 per roll $0.66 per roll 36.36%
Colgate Total 360 Toothpaste $15.99 3 x 220g $2.94 1 x 110g $2.42 per 100g $2.67 per 100g 9.36%
Radox Oxygen Shower Gel $11.99 2x 1 litre $8.89 1 litre $0.60 per 100ml $0.89 per 100ml 32.58%
Heinz Big Red Tomato Sauce $7.79 2 x 1itre $3.96 1 litre $3.89 per litre $3.96 per litre 1.77%
Old El Paso Soft Taco Kit $9.29 785g $5.00 405g $1.18 per 100g $1.23 per 100g 4.07%
Pine O Clean Multipurpose Spray $8.59 3 x 500ml $2.99 1 x 500ml $0.57 per 100 ml $0.60 per 100ml 5.00%
Mortein Fast Knockdown $15.29 3 x 300g $6.77 300g $1.70 per 100g $2.26 per 100g 24.78%
Huggies Nappies Walker Girl $65.99 132 nappies $33 64 nappies $0.50 per nappy $0.52 per nappy 3.85%
Average Saving 14.88%
NB. Prices as per Thursday the 20th of June
NB. I used price per unit to measure the cost savings, given the difference in quantities between my local store and Costco

 

On every product, Costco performed better than my local store.  On some products the savings were substantially better than others, but I think an overall average saving of 15% makes the membership fee and 30 minute drive worth it for me.  I think the savings would have been even bigger, if I had included fresh meat or vegetables but we have a small family and do not have enough room in our fridge to freeze the excess.  For example, lean mince is substantially cheaper than my local store at $6.99 per kilo but I would have to buy 3 kilos at a time, rather than the 500g that I buy now.  If you have a big family then I think the savings over time should be worth it and I will be planning a trip to Costco for Miss Money’s 3rd birthday party supplies.

A word of warning though!  Costco is the land of temptation and you can walk out of there with things that you do not need.  Yes, I am talking from experience.  I will admit that on a whim, I brought a packet of 100 Chupa Chups.  I only have one child! What was I thinking?

Chupa Chup…anyone?

So, yes Costco I will be back.  Once a quarter or so, for household items, like toilet paper, tissues, cleaning products that have long storage lives, oh and maybe a couple more Chupa Chups 🙂

If you would like to read more from me in 2015 don’t forget to sign up to my weekly email using the form below:



If you liked this post you might also like to read:

How Much Can You Save Shopping At Aldi?

Home & Contents Insurance: How Do You Know If You Have Enough?

Winter Family Meals On A Budget

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

5 Websites That Will Help You Make Or Save Money

How To Save On Your Electricity Bill

(Please note this is not a paid post.  It was done out of my own curiosity.)

 

10/07/2013 47 comments
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest