The cost of living in Australia is high. In fact, we are rated as one of the most expensive cities in the world when it comes to daily essentials like clothes, food, and utilities as well as many luxury items.
Been to the movies lately? If you live in Melbourne or Sydney you are paying 40% more for your ticket compared to those living in Manhattan or Paris. 1 Feel like a beer? Australia is the third most expensive country to buy a pint from. And in terms of travel, it seems the usually popular Australian destinations are losing their appeal due to “unfavourable exchange rates”.2
The challenge to live within our means is becoming increasingly harder. And let’s face it, there are some little luxuries, such as a beautiful glass of pinot at the end of the day, that we are not prepared to give up for the sake of saving a few bucks! Hell, we work hard and deserve to enjoy ourselves when the opportunity arises.
So in the essence of not having to go without, here are a few little spending tweaks to help reduce the cost of some common items that can really add up:
The quickest and easiest way to blow your budget is through unplanned grocery shopping, takeaway dinners and dining out. As they say, failure to plan means planning to fail, preparation is a non-negotiable here. Pre-planning your week’s worth of meals will not only save you money but prevent food wastage. The trick is to map out your weekly shopping and stick to the list!
If you’re time-poor cook a few bulk meals at the beginning of the week. In the colder months think hearty soups and stews where leftovers can be frozen for another week. Better yet, invest in a good slow cooker, it’s like having a chef cooking your dinner while you’re at work.
In summer, it’s even easier with salads, wraps, bbq’s and frittatas, anything that’s quick and easy. This includes your green smoothies and snacks too. Rather than paying $4 a pop for your favorite choc protein ball with your morning coffee, take out your Nutribullet and make a big batch last you the week. You can even freeze some. Your budget and your health will thank you.
Shop end of season
They say patience is a virtue. If you can wait for the end of season sales that virtue can save you up to 70% off the regular retail prices. This one is particularly helpful when it comes to kids clothing, as buying the next size up during these sale periods can save you a small fortune. But the key is to show restraint, don’t get carried away by the cheap prices or deviate from the list. A sale item is only cheap if you really need it, otherwise, it’s still just unnecessary spending.
This type of shopping can work both ways by selling the items during the opposite season on platforms like eBay. Notice how in the middle of winter it’s pretty hard to find swimwear or summer clothes? People will pay a premium for these items if they can’t find them at the shops and need them for an overseas holiday for example.
This one’s an oldie but a goodie. It’s almost the reverse of paying on credit but again takes some planning. Usually only offered through the bigger retailers but can still cover an array of goods. If you can lay-buy your sale items even better. It means you don’t have to miss out and can spread the payment usually over a couple of months. But again don’t get carried away, and stick to needs, not wants.
Travel during off-peak
Now, this may not be an option for everyone, but if you can book your trips outside of the holiday seasons, the savings can be significant, especially if you have little ones. And it’s not limited to airfares and hotels. Restaurants and tourist attractions generally hike up their prices during peak season so the savings are across the board. Plus you have the added benefit of less crowds and won’t have to worry about queuing for hours to see popular tourist attractions.
Homemade beauty products
This one is more for the ladies, but men can also take note. A good facial, for example, can cost upwards of $100. Even if you only splurge once a month that’s still $1,200 annually, on just one product. Consider making your own – no chemistry degree required!
In her book Feeding your skin, Carla Oates shows you how to use everyday ingredients you can find in your pantry to make natural and chemical free cleansers, facial scrubs and much more. As most expensive skin care treatments contain lots of nasties, not only will these DIY treatments be better for you and the environment, but will cost you next to nothing. Even if you just swap a few of your skincare essentials for home made ones, the savings can be considerable.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, consider at the very least stretching out your beauty appointments. Move a 4-week cycle to a 6-week cycle and you’ll at least be reducing your annual spend in this area.
Now we may be pushing the DIY idea a bit, but hear me out. Receiving a personalised photo album or some handmade chocolates can be really special. Sometimes it’s almost too easy to pull out the credit card at a department store or present someone with a gift voucher. Gifts that involve more thought, meaning and time will always be appreciated and remembered. This one is especially handy during the Christmas period.
Let’s face it, in this age of consumerism most of us already have everything we could possibly want if we’re completely honest, and many Gen Y (especially) are embracing the minimalist movement. A shared experience, handwritten note or even homemade food will often be far more appreciated as a gift anyway.
Buy wine in bulk
Now we’re not encouraging excessive alcohol consumption here (!) but buying wine at random, especially if it’s a frequent item on your shopping list, can really add up. Buying wine by the case through online retailers such as Vinomofo is really the way to go. You get a wide range of epic wines at discounted prices and best of all, it’s delivered to your doorstep. Or check out Naked Wines, their selection comes from independent winemakers and you get them at wholesale prices. Cheers to that!
Starting to get the idea? Although some of these cost cutting strategies may be more appealing to you than others, even if you think you can apply just one or two, hopefully, the list will inspire you to look for other ways to reduce your spending, without feeling like you have to overhaul your lifestyle. It’s about knowing exactly where your money is being spent, being organised and sometimes getting a little creative.
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Article by Evie Tramer
Disclaimer: all information contained within this article is of a general nature and should not be relied upon when making financial decisions. Please consult a professional financial advisor or planner (like us!) before acting.
1 Deutsche Bank Markets Research 2013, The Random Walk: Mapping the World’s Prices 2013, viewed 19 November 2013,
2 News.com.au, Why do we pay so much for alcohol? Frank Chaug November 26, 2014 http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/why-do-we-pay-so-much-for-alcohol/news-story/1647c23acc476553ade5d77774b8fa7d