Saturday, 15 October 2016

Small ways to save money when you're already pretty frugal

As well as banning myself from buying shoes and clothes, plus reconsidering my health expenses, I've been trying to save money in other ways to make my four-day-a-week pay packet go further and to boost my savings. But it's not easy because, in the grand scheme of things, my boyfriend and I are relatively frugal already.  

Most of our meals are home cooked and nothing fancy. We don't shop at gourmet stores and we try to buy what's best value for money at the supermarket. We rarely go to bars (I hardly drink at all). He rides his bike to work and I take public transport. He owns a small, fuel efficient car and I don't have one at all (I never have). We have the smallest internet/home phone bundle we could get. We got rid of Foxtel (cable TV). A lot of the things we like do in our spare time are free or cheap. We don't need to have the best of everything when it comes to furniture, appliances and electrical equipment - a lot of what we have is old, but serviceable, and we don't upgrade for the sake of it. We don't care about labels or brand names. 

We do spend a lot on rent because we live in an affluent area that we love in a flat that we love (even though it's old and bit shabby), but we do get free heating (wooh!) and we don't pay for water consumption. We expect to have to move out in the next year or two, so we'll look for somewhere cheaper then.   

Because we are already relatively frugal, making our money go further requires a bit more thought. I can't think of any 'big ticket' ways to cut back that I haven't already done, so I've been trying to come up with a lot of little ways to spend less in the hope that, combined, they will make add up to noticeable savings. For example, I've always been a bit obsessive about turning off lights when I leave a room (it was ingrained in me during my working class upbringing), but now I'm being totally obsessive about it. If I can do what I need to do without turning on the lights, then I don't flick the switch. I'm even peeing in the dark! (Although when you live in a city, it's never truly, totally dark.) 

Turn it off

So here's my brainstorm on small ways to save. I already do some of these, but I'm listing them anyway.

Make stuff go further by using Every. Last. Ounce. Use those last sheets of toilet paper; apply that last little nub of lipstick; store near-empty shampoo bottles upside down to get the last bit out; squeeze that toothpaste tube until it can't give any more. There's some useful advice here on how to make stuff go further/last longer.

Only buy what you need. I'm thinking here about food/perishables that will spoil if you don't use them in time. Plan your meals and buy what you need to make them.

Do your grocery shop in one go - you usually end up spending more if you make separate trips to get what you need (especially if you're hungry!). 

Make fresh food last longer.  There's some good tips here  and here on ways to make fruit and veg last longer. I started using Keep Fresh Bags a couple of years ago and they really do keep things fresher for much longer.

Grow your own herbs. We buy a lot of herbs, but our attempts at growing them at home in pots (we don't have a garden) have so far been unsuccessful. But we will persist! (I think the key is to grow them all inside as our balcony doesn't get enough sunlight).

There are loads of fruit and vegetables that can be grown in pots if you don't have a garden. Here's a list of things you can regrow from fruit and vegetable scraps. 

Cook meals from scratch - packaged and pre-prepared food is expensive. 

Buy bulk spices at Asian supermarkets for very little (if you use a lot of spices, anyway). 

Only use your dishwasher when you have a full load. Dishwashing tablets are ridiculously expensive and, according to the guy who installed my dishwasher, they aren't as effective as powder anyway. You don't need to fill the little drawer up with powder either - dishwasher guy said a tablespoon is enough. We use a cheap, generic brand dishwashing powder and it works fine (even without pre-rinsing,which is mostly a waste of water, if you ask me).   

Wash your clothes only when they are dirty or stinky - some things just don't need to be washed after every single wear.  This not only saves energy and water, it makes your clothes last longer.  

Yeah, this is my back yard

Minimise use of your tumble dryer. Sunshine and wind are free (when available!). Be wary of hanging dark coloured clothing in the sun though, because they fade and look shabby so quickly. We dry everything inside because we don't have access to a clothesline, but we do have a drying rack in the cupboard where our gas hot water service is and it's the bomb (and my black clothes barely fade at all). 

Look after your clothes well to make them last longer.  This is a great list of clothing care tips. or google 'laundry hacks'. 

Look after everything you have to make it last longer. Get things serviced on schedule, clean and store them properly. Protect them from the elements.  

Avoid single-use, disposable products, such as antibacterial wipes for cleaning kitchen benches and floors, facial cleansing wipes and make-up removal pads. We use machine washable dishcloths to clean everything, but I need to find alternatives for some other stuff, like make-up wipes. I just found this DIY and this one for reuseable make-up wipes. 


Make your own green cleaners. Store-bought cleaners are expensive and full of nasty stuff. Vinegar and bicarb soda are cheap as chips and they smell like chips too!

Use your own bank's ATMs to avoid paying fees. I reckon this would save me about $20 a month. Note to self: walking a bit further won't kill you. I can't wait until the Bank of Melbourne opens its new HQ in my office. 

Look around for a better deal on health and other insurance. I only have extras health cover and I get value for my money, but I'm interested to see if I can get the same for less.   

Buy generic brand pharmaceuticals (prescription and OTC) where possible. 

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