Save money. Spend within your means. Do a job on the side and earn extra. We’ve surely thought of all these.
But saving for anything is hard work, even when you are paying off debt. It can at times feel overwhelming.
Money management is one of the worst but oh so crucial parts of home economics!
But, it’s time to look at the positives!
What are you already doing that is going to save you money? It’s really important to keep an eye on the prize to focus on the small steps towards whatever your financial goals are. So here are a dozen ways that you can save little bits of money here and there and get ahead.
1. You’ve learned to look after what you’ve got.
It is easier to do it in good nick and make repairs to what you’ve already purchased, rather than replace a broken one. Car maintenance, cleaning the gutters, checking the fridge seals, polishing your shoes, mending a hem, cleaning out your hard drive all put off the inevitable need to replace something.
2. You’ve learned to cook things with the ends of food.
Limp celery no longer gets consigned to feed the chickens or to the bin. Half-eaten apples are cherished, not chucked. Some ideas I like include making fritters or pikelets with leftover fruit or vegetables, adding some sugar or cheese respectively to make a new meal, an afternoon snack or something new and exciting for lunch boxes!
Keep limp veggies in a freezer bag for the stock base, grating for the makings of a pot-luck bolognese, or turning into a vege slice for a quick brunch.
Grate down the dry end of the cheese block and freeze it it will still melt and stick a topping on a pizza, even if you can’t put it in a sandwich or eat with crackers. Fry leftover rice with tamari and frozen vegetables for a quick snack.
3. You’ve learned a few secret cooking tricks.
My favourite ones are to wrap any leftovers in pastry and make veges on the side; to make a white sauce and add interesting herbs and leftovers to make a pie filling; and add leftovers to make a very quick tomato sauce for exciting pasta. Knowing how to extend your menu and repertoire for leftovers gives you a “free” meal each week. Learn to make a basic white sauce, a basic tomato sauce and to wrap things in pastry and things will start looking pretty exciting and free.
4. You’re already using the things you already have, for the things you bought them for.
It’s a crazy idea but the other night, I made mashed potato/pumpkin/carrot in my Thermomix (don’t hate me) and then put it into my Tupperware ice cube tray and froze the leftovers for food for baby, then divided up the leftover risotto and put that in other leftover containers – lunches were settled for the week.
Same goes with blenders, food processors and mixers do you have them? Do you use them? Learn to use them or else sell them to someone who wants them.
5. You are learning to do more with less.
Clothes that are worn lightly can be hung up and worn again before washing less washing for the household, less detergent and less wear. Drive more gently to save fuel. Check your tyre pressure to get better fuel economy and less wear. The list is endless!
6. You’ve learned to do more with what you have.
Look at what you have and simply use it for the purpose that you bought it. Take this as a chance to declutter as well. If you either (a) didn’t remember you had it and are surprised to find it or (b) wouldn’t know where it was next time you needed it, then consider donating it, selling it or chucking it out.
Do you have a voucher book, a zoo pass, a train ticket that’s just sitting there? Instead of planning new things, use what you’ve got on hand. If you’ve got bikes, then go for a ride.
If you’ve got loyalty points, bonuses or credit that you’ve “earned” in some way, or a two-for-one that you bought ages ago, use it!
7. You’ve learned to just do it!
All those things on Pinterest, Facebook and blogs you love to browse to save put them into effect! Whether it’s home baking instead of buying packaged treats, or sewing clothes for summer, or making gifts for birthdays, you’d be amazed at how a little bravery and some DIY crafting enthusiasm can save you money.
8. You’ve embraced turning off when not in use.
This is both literal TVs on standby, power boards not in use, appliances that aren’t being used and more ephemeral. Do you need a landline? Consider turning it off for $5 a month (which is $60 a year or a free haircut).
Same goes for things that you can do at home, such as pedicures, gym memberships, childcare or dry cleaning.
Unplug phone chargers when not in use, invest in some solar lights for the driveway or garden to light your way home, cancel the paper subscription if you don’t get around to reading it and look closely at your insurances.
9. You may have started using containers to contain.
Use the containers you have in your kitchen to contain your pantry items. This means you can see that you own four bags of dessicated coconut because you couldn’t find it last time you baked. It saves over-purchasing, keeps food in better condition for longer, and means you can see what you have in your pantry and get inspiration from when you open the doors.
10. You’ve picked a bank that gives something back to you.
Look at rewards some credit cards give you for spending money you’re already spending. Look at cash-back for using “pay wave”, vouchers for loyalty points at places you shop, or discounts on other products such as insurance that you can secure. Sign up and read those emails you get as you’d be amazed at some of the offers that will be made for your business.
11. You’ve got a drop of secret savings by putting some money out of your wage, payment or spending money into an account with a different bank.
This way, even if it’s $5 a fortnight, you have a small savings account that is working hard and you’re not looking at it. Consider a Christmas account or other incentive-linked savings account to keep you encouraged.
12. You have labelled everything.
Your local library may have a labeller that you can use to label everything in your house, or ask your local friends to borrow theirs. Labelling means that items get put back in their rightful homes and not lost in a dark box.
It means things have a better chance of coming back to your family should they get lost at school, work or a playdate. Files that are labelled are easier to search through, one pace for spare parts or batteries means you get more life out of your possessions and have less need for buying rather than using what you have.
So give yourself a pat on the back! What are you doing already that is saving your family money?
What did you use to do, and have dropped the ball on recently? Do you only buy clothes at the end of the season, in preparation for the next? Do you recycle jars and make your own sauces? Do you dilute milk or toiletries to get extras out of a pack?
What do you do to save money? Share your secrets!