9 Tips to Reduce Groceries, Accommodation and Transport Costs
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, our biggest 3 expenses continue to be groceries, housing and transport. While these costs continue to rise, there are many things you can do to reduce them further.
How to Reduce the Cost of Groceries
A massive expense for many and one of the things I get asked about the most. Groceries are an expensive necessity. However, there are ways to get food free and super cheap plus there are frugal recipes.
1. Get Free Food
You don’t have to go dumpster diving, although if that is your thing, go for it. You can forage, barter, grow your own (spring onions, celery, herbs and similar grow from scraps). Enter competitions with food as the prize and look at the options around you for free food. Depending on your circumstances you might be eligible for free food from community pantry’s and similar. Some churches also give out free food because members bring it in or it gets donated.
2. Access Discounted Food
Look for all the discounts available, shop in sales and use the reward programs. Do not chase points though. Only buy what you need and stick to your budget.
For some discounts, Dinnerly offer $10 off your first 3 boxes with them, Marley Spoon has $80 ($20 of each of your first 4 boxes). Woolworths has the Everyday Rewards Card but I found Flybuys with Coles better. Ask local vendors such as butchers, greengrocers, farmers markets and similar if they offer discounts and always use cash back apps. Shop Back, Cash Rewards and Honey are my three favourites.
Lastly, for more discounts, be sure to use the apps such as HalfPrice to check what is on sale. You never need to pay full price.
As basic as it sounds, creating a meal plan (even if it only for a few days at a time), shopping with a list and shopping around saves money. Planning your groceries, having a budget, knowing what food you have and what you need enables you to eat better and spend less.
How to Save Money on Housing
House prices have soared but in recent years we have started to see a shift in some of the major cities. Being based in Melbourne, I have seen a significant decline in some areas which is great for buyers and renters but not so great for investors or those who bought recently.
1. Free Housing
Housesitting, pet sitting in other people’s homes and couch surfing are the most common ‘free’ housing options. Alternatively, some people travel and work in different places with accommodation included. This can be easier if single e.g. as an au pair, working in a backpackers, hostel etc. I’ve had family members work in caravan parks as they travelled around and similar touristy options. Owning or renting are not the only housing options available.
2. Make Money From Housing
You can rent out rooms to make your mortgage pay for itself. Rent out your garage or spare spaces, run classes from home and all sorts of things. Check out how to make your home pay for itself, which was based on the house I was living in. Any time I look at a property, I consider all the ways in which it can make money. Long term boarders, Airbnb for short term, Spacer for the garage or driveway are all easy options.
3. Get It Cheaper
Live somewhere cheaper either by looking for a cheaper rental, downsizing (although, weigh up all the expenses) or negotiate with your landlord if renting. The last property I rented dropped a lot and when I left, he had to lower the price again. It never hurts to ask for a discount, reduced rent, refinance your mortgage or similar. Check out heaps of ways to make housing free and cheap here.
I’ve lived without a car, had expensive cars and currently own a little Hyundai. My favourite option was living without a car in Melbourne CBD simply walking everywhere or using public transport. In Canberra, we owned 2 cars (I was in a relationship), which cost us $20,000 a year. Moving to Melbourne, they were sold and I spent less than $1,000 on transport. Trains, trams, buses, Uber, Shebah and walking is how we got around. Even now, we tend to walk most places.
1. Reduce Car Expenses
Most Australians own cars and given how spread out our country is, this makes sense. If you own a car, keep an eye on fuel prices, top up when it’s cheap so you don’t have to when it is expensive. Ensure your car is well maintained because it will run better and be cheaper to run. Clean it regularly, keep it garaged or undercover where possible and always compare insurance. Never, ever pay your renewal when they send it. It is always more expensive than if you got a new quote, even if it is with the same company!
2. Free Transport
I’m spoilt in Melbourne as there are free trams around the city making life easier. Using a bike with a basket or backpack is also extremely common here, as it is within the FIRE community (Financial Independence, Retire Early). Bikes are cheap to run, easy to use and you can carry a decent amount on them. Of course, there is always walking too.
3. Cheap Transport
Aside from owning your own car, rideshare and carshare programs can be an option. CarNextDoor is one I have used when needed (get $15 off here). There are a variety of carshare options you can use for an hour, a day or a few days. Most are located within inner cities though. You can also rent your own car out and make some money while saving on insurance.