Finance

How to reduce costs in the home

There’s a reason parents always used to say ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’: life is expensive! Between utilities, groceries, childcare and education, the bills in a household can really add up.

Fortunately, however, there are ways to reduce your everyday expenses to a more manageable amount, and save on your regular costs. Here’s how:

Household costs

  • Turn lights and appliances off when not in use. Get into the habit of turning lights off as you leave the room, and switching appliances off at the powerpoint. Set your heaters and coolers to a timer so that they are only running when you need them. Aside from reducing your energy bills, this conservation is also great for the environment!
  • Cook in bulk. Set aside a weekend afternoon to do a big cook up. You can pre-package portions for the week ahead and freeze them so that there’s always something waiting when you come home. This will help you to resist the temptation of takeaway food after a long day at work.
  • Have a garage sale and get rid of unwanted things. See it as a chance to reduce clutter and make a few dollars while you’re at it! Really, do you need that dress you wore to Aunt Susan’s wedding when you were 11?
  • Plan your grocery shopping. Sit down before you go and write a list of everything you need. Try not to shop on impulse. Plan your weekly meals ahead of time and choose ingredients that are transferable across a few different dishes. And keep an eye out for sales and stock up on bulk everyday items, like toilet paper.

Work

  • Carpool with a colleague or a friend who works in the same area. You’ll have company on the way to and from work and you will reduce your petrol bill by half! Not to mention, you’ll be saving your car extra wear and tear.
  • BYO and we don’t mean alcohol. Take your own lunch to work. Pre-prepare your weekly lunches at the beginning of the week, or cook enough each night to have leftovers. And make it tasty so you won’t be tempted by the bakeries, cafes and restaurants near the office.
  • Cycle or walk if you live close enough. When you factor traffic into the scenario, traveling on foot or by bike can sometimes be even quicker than driving! And as an added bonus, you’ll be getting fitter while you’re at it!
  • Ditch the takeaway coffee and get your caffeine fix at home. Invest in a travel mug and make your coffee in your own kitchen before you leave the house. If you’re really lucky, your workplace will supply some sort of caffeinated beverages too – for free! Don’t throw away pointless dollars every day on a barista blend.

Lifestyle

  • Cancel your gym membership and go outside! With the warmer months approaching, there’s more daylight hours to play with. Go for a walk or run in the park, or set up a circuit from the comfort of your backyard. Team up with some friends and set a time to meet together and motivate each other.
  • Reduce partying. Just a little bit. You’ve gotta have fun sometimes, but if you’re someone who goes out every weekend, the price of drinks and meals can rack up a decent chunk of expenses. Try to limit yourself to one or two nights a month, and cut back on extravagant cocktails in place of simple basics.
  • Set a weekly budget and stick to it. Be realistic and be generous – don’t try to stretch yourself too thin. This gives you an opportunity for reward too. If at the end of the week you have some cash to spare, treat yourself to a meal out, have that takeaway coffee at work, or if you really want to, send the excess cash into savings.

You don’t need to overhaul your life to save a few dollars here and there. Simple changes and a conscious effort will go a long way. Before you know it, your savings goals will be within reach – just think of how sweet that reward will be!