How to Save Thousands in Your Budget
Do you save on the small stuff but leave thousands on the table without realising it because you think it’s too much effort?
Nationwide research conducted by University of Technology Sydney (UTS) revealed Australians crave the instant gratification they get from saving a few dollars on food and fashion but are ignoring the potential to save thousands by doing the same on major purchases.
What if you could save THOUSANDS in one hit, instead of simply trying to save a few dollars here and there on fashion or coffee? It’s great to shop around for bargains, aim to never pay full price for everyday expenses, but what about the big expenses you already have set up via direct debit or pay for and it looks like too much effort to switch? If I could show you ways to save $10,000 this year, would you do it?
Disclosure – this post may contain affiliate links for products and services I use and recommend.
1. Compare and Switch Mortgage Providers – Save $3,000+ per Year
If you have a mortgage, when is the last time you check the interest rate, fees, charges and options? Interest rates vary between lenders by over 1.5% and the average Aussie has saved $3,000 annually by doing a home loan health check.
When comparing loans, you can use a broker, ask your bank for a reduced rate or do the research yourself. Check establishment fees, monthly fees, options like offset accounts, redraw facilities and interest rates to ensure the loan you choose is right for you.
Between a few days to a few weeks for actual approval. Your personal time investment is a couple of hours for research and paperwork.
Make Extra Money
Check out how to make your mortgage to pay for itself for ideas on how to make extra money from your home. There are lots of options including Airbnb (I have a full guide to making money from Airbnb here), getting a boarder, renting out your garage and more.
2. Rent Somewhere Cheaper – Save $2,600 to $10,400 per Year
You don’t have a mortgage? Neither do I. I have moved and travelled a lot so stuck to renting after my divorce. For the most part, I have been able to secure affordable/cheaper homes in the suburbs I wanted to live with many people shocked I can usually get below average with the rent.
If you are renting, can you rent somewhere cheaper? Do you really need all the bedrooms you have or would a smaller place work? I’ve lived in larger than necessary homes to be able to get my daughters into the school I wanted then moved later.
If you can’t rent cheaper, can you rent somewhere for a similar price that includes more? Our place in Canberra was large, had a pool but required a lot of maintenance. Our unit in Melbourne has a pool, gyms, saunas, steam rooms, a BBQ area, function rooms we can use for parties or business meetings, commercial kitchen, games room and Foxtel.
For the same price in rent, we had amenities we used to pay over $250 per week separately for. Now I live in Noosa and have the cheapest rent I have had in 7 years. But I got in just before it became impossible to rent here on the Sunshine Coast.
Alternatively, can you get a flatmate (read 14 tips for renting a room first) or rent the driveway, garage or anything like that? I have made $50 a week renting my garage and over $250 a week renting a room. My preference is to rent rooms through Airbnb or get a regular boarder through Facebook groups.
Each time I have rented out a room, it’s taken maybe 1 to 2 hours effort. Moving house is a completely different matter though and takes days to search for a new property, pack the house, clean and move.
Check your lease and any laws where you are before you try anything. You could potentially rent out a room, garage, anything. Try my tips for Airbnb to get you started.
3. Compare Health Insurance – Save $300+
I’ve had private health insurance since 2012. During this time I have used the hospital option a lot, however, we didn’t use the extras much. I did a comparison, changed my plan to incorporate only what we need and started saving the difference.
Total savings from now for me on will be $2,340 per year and it took less than 10 minutes to compare, switch and save money. Many readers I know have saved $300 to $3,000 doing a comparison and changing health insurance to suit their family.
Comparing health insurance needn’t take long. In fact, you can do it in under 10 minutes. Use this government website to compare policies.
Place the money you save into a savings account, on debt to continue to make/save you money or invest it in shares. You can use Spaceship (get a bonus $5 to start when you sign up with the code S8ONS71M9X and invest at least $5 within 14 days.
Plus, look out for health insurance switch deals, or health insurance that offers bonus points for a loyalty program you are part of. The best health insurance for me made me an extra $100 when I switched.
4. House Insurance – Save $200+ per Year
Make sure you are adequately insured for either home and contents or at least get renters/contents insurance if you rent. Compare to make sure you are insured enough to replace everything, have specific items listed if needed and do a comparison to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Last time I compared, I saved $200.
It takes less than 15 minutes to do a comparison online but be sure to put in accurate details.
You can’t make money from house insurance, however, if you need to use it, you’ll appreciate it. I was robbed one year, right near Christmas and while it was a nightmare, insurance covered things and made it easier.
5. Car And Other Insurance – Save $240+ per year
Do a complete insurance audit to make sure you are covered for what you need and aren’t still paying for old policies without realising it. I know of people who didn’t cancel their old insurance when they switched and they ended up paying double for over a year!
Last time I did a comparison, I saved $240 a year on car insurance. When I was under 25 the policies varied by over $3,000. And when I got divorced and removed my ex, I saved $1,300. It definitely pays to shop around.
15 minutes is all it takes to do a quick comparison online.
Again, you can’t make money off your insurance but it is worth having. In 2015 I had two accidents, neither for which I was at fault. Both combined were more than the value of my car, however as they were separate accidents it wasn’t going to be written off. The damage was visually minor to the panels, none to the engine etc. As such, I took a cash payout instead of repairing the car.
However, you can make money through your car by renting it out, doing deliveries or offering a service such as Uber/Shebah etc. They don’t pay much though.
6. Switch Banks – Save $700+ per Year
Do you pay monthly account keeping fees, ATM withdrawal fees or any other fees? Are you getting a decent interest rate on your savings? Do you get bonuses like cashback for using PayWave and other benefits? If you pay to have a bank account, it is time to switch!
Stop getting charged $2.50 to $5.00 for using ATMS that aren’t ‘your banks’. Do a bit of research and make sure you either have cash on you or find out where the nearest ATM for your bank is. Alternatively, find a bank who doesn’t charge you to use other ATM’s if you withdraw over a certain amount.
Up doesn’t charge these fees and gives you $5 as bonus for signing up which only takes a few minutes. 86 400 is another newer one which gives you $20 for signing up if you use the code S7VL6WF. Join 86 400 for free here.
- If you have a credit card, switch to a 0% option and pay it off! If you have a $5,000 debt on your credit card and switch to a 0% option, then pay it off in full you save $435 over 12 months.
- Account keeping fees average $10 per month. If you deposit over $2,000 in many they waive this fee. If not, shop around and find a fee-free account to save $120 per year.
- Plan your ATM withdrawals and save $2.50 a pop or for many people, $120 a year.
- Check for cashback options. Some banks off cashback on purchases, many used to do cashback for using PayWave. Shop around and get more money.
- Request for fees to be waived. If you are charged an overdrawn fee or any other fee, call and ask for it to be waived. Most will do it. $50+ per year for some people.
Up to 30 minutes to fill out forms, process it all and switch or under 5 minutes for Up and 86 400.
Use sign up bonuses (although, be careful with this as each new sign up may change to your credit rating, especially if doing credit cards.)
7. Save With Electricity – Save $500+ per Year
Compare providers and make sure you are getting the best deal. With pay on time discounts ranging from 10% off the total bill to 30% off usage, no one should pay full price for electricity. Average families spend over $2,000 on electricity per year. If you can save $200+ simply by switching, why wouldn’t you?
While you are at it, change some of your other habits, like turn things off or unplug them when you aren’t using them, hang your clothes to dry instead of using your dryer and try these 19 tips to keep cool instead of the air conditioner.
10 minutes to compare and switch
Check switching bonuses, such as $50 sign up credit, gift cards and other offers to make a little extra cash when you switch.
8. Know Your Discounts – Save $2,000+ per Year
Some bills give a discount if you pay on time (as shown with electricity above). Some places have amazing loyalty programs with great discounts, this goes for everything from groceries to travel. Check out 12 ways to get coupons and discounts in Australia for more information
If you are on a pension or have any sort of pension/healthcare card you can get free travel, discounted rates, discounted medicine, free medical care, no interest loans, 5% off at Kmart on the first Wednesday of every month and so much more. Check the complete list, with relevant links here. Also, get 40% off your first box with EveryPlate plus 20% off your next two.
30 minutes doing a bit of research and signing up
Swap or sell coupons, discounts or gift cards for cash if the program allows.
9. Compare Loyalty Programs – Save $500+ per Year
Birthday freebies, 50% off, free coffee/beauty treatment/meal every 10th visit, points to fly for free etc. All these reward and loyalty programs add up, but are you using them properly?
Compare which ones you use the most, which ones connect with your other providers to enable you to collect extra points (for example, with some purchases you can get points through the providers loyalty program plus collect travel or Flybuy points at the same time.
We have a complete list of Australian loyalty/VIP/reward programs here (let us know if you know of any others). Feedback from our readers tell us most people save or make on average $500 per year through these programs.
30 to 60 minutes to sign up to the full list. Only a few minutes per program.
Some programs such as Flybuys can be converted to cash.
10. Change Your Beauty Routine – Save $2,000+ per Year
I worked out my beauty routine would cost $12,000 if I paid professionals for what I do myself including hair colour, manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing, beauty products etc. Instead, I do most of it myself, buy beauty products on sale, colour my own hair etc.
For a body scrub, I like oil and sugar (or mix coffee grounds, sugar and oil). I use coconut oil as a moisturiser, hair treatment and all-rounder. I buff, file and paint my own nails and cut my own hair. The average woman spends $3,600 on beauty. Start doing some of your beauty yourself, shop around and save a few thousand a year.
I know a few women who group together to help each other do spray tans, colour hair, do nails etc. It works well for them and is significantly cheaper. That said, if needed, leave some things to professionals!
5 minutes to mix scrubs and maybe 20 minutes to watch some tutorials
Some people make money selling their own beauty products or through offering services to others within their circles.
11. Reduce Car Expenses – Save $1,500+ per Year
Chances are you have a car loan or are driving a car that is costing you more than it needs to. I have lived without a car in a few locations and loved it. Others, a car was necessary.
If you have to have a car, look at ways you can reduce your car expenses such as driving less, combining errands, walking everywhere you can, keeping it maintained, keeping an eye on petrol prices to ensure you pay less etc.
20 minutes to do a bit of research
Try Uber, or rent your car out when you aren’t using it to make money from your car.
12. Buy Glasses Online – Save $200+ per Pair
I stopped paying $300+ for glasses over 9 years ago when I discovered online glasses from places like Zenni Optical. They start at around $10 a pair and are exactly the same as glasses bought at an optometrist.
Get your eyes tested, ask for the prescription, including the PD (pupillary distance), then order your glasses online.
30minutes searching for the glasses you like online and uploading a picture of your face to see how they will sit.
Some of the companies have a refer a friend offer which means if you send your link to friends, you get a bonus and they usually get a discount too.
13. Groceries – Save $2,000+ per Year
Groceries can get out of control if you let them. Create a menu plan, shop at markets, eat simply and buy in bulk in sales. The average Australian spends over $300 per week on groceries. I know when I don’t pay attention, our bill creeps up.
We have various allergies including gluten and lactose in our home making it more expensive at times. However, there are lots of ways to reduce the cost of groceries without sacrificing health.
For tips on reducing groceries read how to get free and super cheap groceries.
Having a meal plan and shopping from a list really doesn’t take much more than normal groceries.
You can make money by doing grocery shops for others as you do yours, or through loyalty programs mentioned before. Some people do receipt apps but I haven’t found them to be worth it.
14. Switch Your Gym Membership – Save $500+ per Year
Get a few basic pieces of equipment like some weights, a kettlebell and bench to work out at home or shop around for a better deal on your gym membership.
Also, look at options like joining a team sport such as football, netball or basketball which means training during the week as well as games to keep you fit. Walk further or look at options where a few of you get together and workout at local parks, (many have fitness options now).
It only takes a few minutes to compare or do some research.
Get trained as a personal trainer and be the one to run classes instead of paying to be trained. Or yoga instructor, coach, whatever sport you enjoy you can get qualified to be paid to train.
15. Switch Phone and Internet Providers – Save $500+ per Year
When is the last time you compared to see how much you could save with your phone and internet? Prepaid often works out cheaper than a contract now, plus if you have been on a contract for a while, and it has simply continued to roll over after the contract period, you could be paying more than necessary.
One friend was on a $75 a month plan which continued at the end of the contract term. When they looked into it, there was a $50 plan that was better than the one he was on so he switched and saved $25 a month
Get rid of your home phone unless you really need it. I don’t even remember the last time I used or called a home phone.
Compare your internet plans and make sure you are getting maximum value (and quality) for your budget. Last time I shopped around the difference was $40 a month between the plans I was considering.
20 minutes to compare and switch.
16. Know and Claim Work Expenses – Save $1,000+ per Year
Are you keeping track of your work expenses and what you can claim on tax for your industry? Things like laundry, courses, travel, computers, phones and some meals can all be claimed plus a whole lot of other things, depending on your job. Find out what things you can claim and keep accurate records.
Add to this, get to know things about where you work and look at how you can save the company money as well as yourself.
30 minutes to find out and a few minutes to keep track using the Tax app.
Ask for a pay rise. If you are saving the company money, are great at your job, know your worth and have checked to see what the pay scale is, ask for a pay rise.
17. Ask For Discounts – Save $5 to $1,000+ per Item
Ask for discounts, politely and be ready for rejection. When it comes to clothing, I often do this. For example, in a David Jones sale, a friend really wanted a shirt, but it had a drop of who knows what on the shoulder. I asked as it was the last size if there were anymore and because there wasn’t they offered to discount it further. The shirt cost $20 instead of $80. Another time there was pen on a shirt in Portmans at a DFO, no other shirts in my size. I asked for a discount and saved $5.
When I was making some large purchases at The Good Guys, I asked for the best price on everything, compared online and as I was spending so much I saved thousands in one hit.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount, just be sure to be polite about it and understand you might get rejected.
It only takes a few minutes to ask for a discount.
If you wanted to, you could get the super discounts then resell items, but I am not totally comfortable with that.
18. Compare Your Superannuation – Save $80,000+ Before Retirement
Over your working life, the wrong superannuation account can cost you thousands, as much as a few years worth of wages. Compare and make sure you are getting the best deal but also check your insurance options and everything connected to your superannuation.
Also do a search for lost superannuation to consolidate your accounts, save on fees and earn more. While you won’t see this money until you retire, you need to make it work for you now in order to get maximum benefits when you retire
Check lost super though your MyGov account.
Under 30 minutes to check, apply and switch.
Check how your super is invested and change the investments to make your super work harder and make you more money.
19. Borrow Instead Of Buy – Save $100+ per Expensive Item
How often do you purchase something to only use it once? Weddings or special occasions where you need a nice dress, camping gear, snow gear etc. Look at borrowing instead of buying. The only downfall with this is if you do damage or break someone else’s stuff, you need to replace it/pay for it.
Borrow from friends or family, check out Facebook Marketplace and similar to obtain the items for free or do some swaps. Alternatively, consider renting instead of buying. Sometimes it works out cheaper.
A few minutes to ask friends and family, put a post on Facebook or longer to search rental places.
if you are the one with things people want to borrow, there are communities online you can rent your stuff out especially baby gear, a caravan or car.
20. Take Your Lunch or Snacks Wherever you go – $200+ per Week
Everywhere we go my kids have snacks and a drink bottle packed, if we are going out for the day we make sure we pack a lunch. All up, we save $200+ a week compared to when we have bought food when out. Sometimes we budget in a cafe or lunch out, but for the most part, we pack our food.
It is quicker to pack a lunch than order and wait for take away food.
You can make snacks and sell them at markets if you want, there are a lot of rules and regulations you need to check into though. I know of people who make slices, cakes, muffins, cookies, sandwiches etc and sell them at their workplaces. Check what is and isn’t allowed where you live and work.
21. Source Free Entertainment – $200+ per Event
Instead of paying to go out to clubs every weekend or have dinner out, look up events in your area either with your local tourism board or check the events section on Facebook.
We used to have free festivals and entertainment where we lived which saves us a fortune on entertainment. We also have hobbies such as exploring our city (usually walking between 10km and 40km any given weekend checking out our city and attractions), photography, op-shopping etc.
Our hobbies are simple, mostly free (photography costs a fair bit when setting up but it makes money as well) and we enjoy them.
30 minutes to research things to do in your area and plan them.
If you have a hobby like photography there are many ways you can make money such as selling pictures online, bartering for other services, or getting paid to travel.
22. Get Savvy With Gifts – Save $200+ each Christmas
Plan your gifts ahead of time. Work out who you are buying for, what your budget is, what gifts you would like to give them and how you will get those gifts. Make gifts if they will be used and appreciated such as slices, biscuits and cakes, or sew gifts.
If you aren’t making gifts, use reward points, VIP discounts and sales to get presents worth $100 for $20 or less.
Varies depending on how much you are making, possibly a few hours.
Get good at what you make and look at selling it on Etsy, Facebook or setting up your own store.
23. Shop Online – Save $1,000+ per Year
Buying things online can reduce impulse buys as well as get bonuses such as free shipping or cash back.
30 minutes or more researching, comparing and buying.
You can buy things online and resell. I bought a book on eBay for $25 and sold it elsewhere for $85. Check out how to make over $10,000 a month buying things to resell.
24. Barter – Save $200+ per Year
Bartering can be a great way to save money, however, it requires some time and effort on your part in exchange for whatever you are swapping. You can arrange bartering through friends and family or check out websites which allow you to exchange services. Usually, you need to exchange like for like, so whatever you are doing will ‘cost’ you the same as you would be saving, however, money is not exchanged so it can save you money that way.
Some barters are quick and easy, others take longer depending on what you are bartering.
The point of bartering is no money exchanged usually so it’s not a money making idea.
25. Cancel Subscriptions – Save $200+ per Year
How many little subscriptions do you have that you could cancel? Log into PayPal and cancel any subscriptions you don’t use or forgot you signed up for. Check Apple and your email for others as well as your bank statement.
Often it isn’t until the payment is taken out again that we discover the subscriptions. Unsubscribe from emails to reduce the temptation to spend as well.
When I cleared my subscriptions for things I knew I was not going to use the following year, I saved $650.
30 minutes to a couple of hours depending on how many you need to go through.
You can’t make money clearing these subscriptions, but it can give you ideas for your own subscription service later.
26. Pay Everything On Time – Save $200+ per Year
More places are offering pay on time discounts which can be as much as $200 a year. Another bonus of paying on time is no late fees. Late fees can be as small as 1% of the bill or large like $100 per day you are late. Read the fine print of everything and make sure you pay on time. If you can’t pay on time, call and make arrangements to pay asap.
A few minutes.
There are no options for making money with paying on time.
27. Use the Extras on Your Credit Card – Save $500+ per Year
If you have a credit card, check the bonus extras or offers it has such as free extended warranties on purchases or travel insurance. By having a credit card with these options, we have saved $500+ at different times.
10 minutes to check.
You can’t make money from this option.
28. Use the Share Economy – $1,000+ per Year
Sites and apps like Airbnb, Uber, Couchsurfing, library or book swaps, flexible car renting options including renting directly from owners, Open Shed and others save you loads of money. Our trips with Uber are usually 50% of the price of a cab (except if there is surge pricing), accommodation with Airbnb has been significantly less than hotels, Couchsurfing is free. Check out the sharing economy and all the ways you can save money with it.
This depends on which option you choose to use and how much you do it.
29. Cut The Temptation – $5,000+ per Year
Do you know where your areas of weakness are? If so, get rid of them. Delete apps you spend too much money on, clear your history, unsubscribe from emails so you don’t know about sales. Check out this post on ways to cut temptation.
By getting rid of your temptations you make it easier to save money and can save thousands a year.
Minutes to do a quick temptation block.
Turn your temptation into a money-maker by selling stuff you have if you are a shopaholic or find a new hobby that makes money
30. Stick To A Budget – Save $5,000+ per Year
Find out exactly what you are spending on everything then go over it and see where you can reduce spending, what you need to compare prices on, what your weaknesses are and create a plan of attach to live within your means, clear debt, save money and do things in life you want to do such as holidays, buy a house or a car.
30 minutes to one hour
Once you know how much you are spending, have worked out how to reduce all your expenses, look at the ways you can increase your income to help you reach your financial goals faster. Check out all the articles in our make money category here.
31. Set a Savings Goal with Automatic Deductions – Save Thousands
Once you know where all your money is going, set a saving goal such as $1,000 or $5,000 in an emergency fund or $10,000 for a new car or $50,000 for a house deposit. Break it into small chunks of cash and set up and automatic deduction each week or fortnight to your account for that amount. It might take a while to reach your goal, but if you automate it, you will achieve it.
A great example of why doing this is important is how to become a millionaire even as a single mum.
10 minutes to set it up.
Put it in a high-interest account and make extra money on it.
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