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How to Survive When the Cost of Living Keeps Going Up?

How to Survive When the Cost of Living Keeps Going Up?

23 Tips to Manage Money and Survive When the Cost of Living Keeps Going Up

The cost of living has skyrocketed recently, pushing many past their limits. Whatever your circumstances are, you are likely feeling the pinch.

Our area went up 56% during the last 2 years making it the most expensive suburb in Queensland. The amount of people I’ve seen kicked out at the end of their lease or the rent pushed to extremes has been heartbreaking.

With floods, supply chain issues and other increased expenses, the cost of many food items has jumped. Not to mention other bills such as electricity and the cost of fuel.

How can you Survive when the Cost of Living Continues to go up?

Below I will share specific tips but before I do, one of the best things I have found to help is changing my mindset to focus on what I can change, not the things I can’t.

We can’t control the cost of fuel or the fact that prices are increasing drastically. What we can do is set our budgets, shop in sales, cut back where possible and find ways to make more money.

While it hurts that our money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to, if we focus on what we can do, we will be much happier. I’ve found when I am happier, I manage my money better too.

1. Get Discounts on Everything

Never pay full price! For almost everything, you can get a discount if you know how. Wait for sales, buy enough to last you then. Use cash back apps such as Cashrewards and Shopback. Google for discount codes, sign up to the newsletter for whichever site you are shopping for etc.

Check out how to get a discount on everything and 12 ways to get coupons and discounts in Australia for more ideas. Paying the full retail price is rarely needed if you plan your shop and know where to look.

Often, you can get freebies as well. Sign up for the birthday freebies, check out this list of freebies for Aussies and how a family can live for free for more ideas.

Mortgage/Rent/Housing

Housing has reached breaking point for many and with interest rates rising now, it is a little scary for homeowners. House and rent prices have been wild the past 2 years, taking more and more of the family budget. That is if you could even get a home, homelessness has increased too.

2. Affordable Housing

You could look at ways to make money from the home such as Airbnb (read my tips for Airbnb), renting a room to a boarder, renting out your garage etc. If you own the home, this is much easier because you only need to check with the council and your insurance.

Read how to make your mortgage pay for itself for more ideas other than Airbnb too.

When renting, it depends on your lease and landlord usually. Right now, you can’t exactly find cheaper rent but you might be able to houseshare. Single parents can look at ShareAbode.

Car/Transport/Fuel

Another cost that is increasing daily. Second-hand cars became as expensive as new and new cars have taken months to get. Fuel is well over $2L most of the time making it extremely expensive.

Not to mention the regular maintenance, replacing tyres, cleaning it, insurance and eventually, replacing it. It adds up fast. Here are some things you can do to help plus check out how to reduce the cost of transport.

3. Use Apps

Two apps we use are the 7/11 app where you can lock in fuel prices and FuelMap which shows the prices of petrol around you. Using these apps can save significant money.

Keep an eye on prices as you drive around to ensure you get the best deal. If you see it cheap, consider topping up to save a little.

4. Keep It Clean

It’s minor but keeping your car clean inside and out makes a difference on the resale value. That might not seem important now but it will later.

Also, by keeping it clean and not loaded up with unnecessary items, it costs less to run. The more weight in a car, the more fuel it needs to move. The amount is small but these small things add up.

5. Learn Some DIY

While a whole service might be too much, simple things can be done yourself. Check your oil to ensure it always has enough and top up if needed.

Inflate your tyres to the correct amount both to ensure the life of the tyres and to reduce fuel consumption. This is also important for your safety.

Learn to rotate your tyres, check your battery and always do a Google search whenever something goes wrong. I’ve had a few things go wrong over the years and was quoted significant amounts for it to be fixed. With a little research, it turned out to be a $2 fuse or issue with my key or other things. All of which were much cheaper to do and could be done myself.

6. Walk or Bike Instead

We have lived without a car numerous times in various cities. If you have the time and live close enough, this can reduce the cost of transport drastically.

Public transport and how close we are to everything we need determines how easy this is. Canberra was almost impossible because of our commitments there and the time it took to travel, but Sydney, Melbourne and Noosa have all been easy without a car.

Check out how to live without a car. In Melbourne, we lived right in the city so public transport was easy and there was a free loop.

Noosa has virtually everything we need so my daughters ride their bikes to and from school, work, and sports. Buses are free on the weekends and only during my pregnancies did I need to go further than Noosa for the hospital.

Walking or riding bikes everywhere has kept us fit and we enjoy it. When I walk to do groceries or errands, my baby is in a carrier on my chest and my toddler walks as far as he wants then gets in the pram. Once in the pram he usually falls asleep and I listen to a podcast or audiobook.

Doing it this way has been great for our mental and physical health, plus for my toddler, he loves exploring everything so it’s educational as well.

7. Combine Errands

As basic as this sounds, the amount of people who don’t get organised and end up doing way more driving amazes me. Sort your errands, and postpone what you can until you can do it all at once. Then create a plan so you are doing them in order and not driving everywhere or backtracking.

Food

I have written a few articles about how to save on food including how to reduce the cost of groceries in 2022 which has 21 tips. How to get free and super cheap food plus a few years ago I wrote how to keep your groceries under $150 a week for an Aussie family of 4 which has 18 tips.

8. Source Free Food: Fishing, Bartering, Groups, Foraging

There are multiple ways to get free food. For starters, if you or your partner enjoy fishing, once you have the gear it is a great hobby and provides good food. Most times we go fishing, we get $100 worth of fish e.g. salmon, flathead, trevally, bream etc.

We only keep what we can eat. It’s a hobby the family enjoy so is both free family fun and provides food. Plus fresh fish, caught yourself, tastes so much better!

Barter with others either with produce you grow yourself or eggs from your own chickens or other services e.g yardwork etc.

Check your local pay it forward and free groups in your area as well as Facebook Marketplace. Sometimes there is free food available.

Forage using sites such as www.ripenear.me and take note of edible foods as you walk around. Learn about native produce as well. You might be surprised how much there is available e.g. baby dandelions are great in a salad and you can make tea.

Foraging is a great family pastime in other countries e.g. Slovenia they go for mushrooms, chestnuts, berries and more depending on the season.

When foraging always check the laws and if areas have been sprayed. You do not want to ingest those chemicals or break the law.

9. Grow Your Own

Any produce with the roots on it such as shallots, lettuce, herbs etc can be put in a glass to keep growing. That is how easy and cheap it is to start growing your own. Plus, you reduce waste and easily have certain things on hand.

Seeds such as pumpkin typically grow easily from your scraps too of you want to do a full vegetable garden. Gardening is both a great hobby for your physical and mental health, as well as a way to get nutritious food.

10. Shop Away From Supermarkets

We use the supermarkets for half-price specials but there are so many great prices elsewhere. The Reject Shop, discount stores, warehouses, farmers markets, the butcher etc. All often have amazing specials of certain items.

With farmers markets and the butchers, we shop right before they close for the week. At this time they usually slash prices which has helped keep our costs low.

Look at multicultural stores for bulk spices, nuts, noodles, rice and similar for much better prices (and usually better quality) than the local supermarket.

Coles and Woolworths might seem like the best options but it is usually only the items on a deep discount such as half price that are worth it there.

11. Rework Leftovers

Instead of eating the same thing over and over or wasting it because you’re sick of it, look at how you can rework or makeover leftovers. Check out 25 ideas for leftover ham, 20 recipes for leftover sausages and these 29 meals from leftover roast chicken. This article about how to reduce waste covers all sorts of leftovers from a Christmas meal and what you can do.

Most meats can be used on pizza, in soup, risotto, pasta bake, curry, fried rice and more. Get creative and substitute ingredients in recipes to use what you have.

Electricity/Gas

The cost of electricity and gas is crushing right now. Supply issues, costs, having to ration, these are all things most people probably never thought they would face. Check out 17 ways to reduce the cost of electricity and 19 ways to keep cool in summer for a few ways to save.

12. Go Elsewhere

The number one thing I have done to keep my energy bills lower is to spend time elsewhere. Whether it be the library (which is also great for the kids, free internet, storytime etc) or simply being an active family, by not being home the only electricity on most of the time is for the fridge.

We enjoy hiking, bike riding, fishing, time at the beach, exploring new areas etc. Basically, we enjoy being outside. Even when at home, we have preferred spending the time in the backyard on a trampoline or similar instead of inside.

Libraries are great for keeping entertained, borrowing books, working or homework in a quiet environment with free internet and powerpoints to recharge devices etc. Back when I was a single mother of two young kids, I used our local library a lot and is saved me a small fortune plus using the internet there is how I was able to start blogging, doing online surveys etc for extra cash. (This was 2012, when data still cost a lot on phones!)

13. Unplug and Use Energy Wisely

Switch off everything when it is not being used, get energy-efficient appliances, only wash on a full load, check your off-peak times for cheap electricity and plan accordingly.

Do not charge devices overnight as it’s unnecessary, uses more electricity and isn’t good for the device. Be smart about how you are using electricity and you can save a lot.

14. Cover Everything

Check for gaps around doors and windows then seal them. You can get a tape from bunnings or gel for a small cost. Use draught stoppers along the bottom of doors (or roll up a towel) to block air from escaping.

Rug up, use throw rugs/blankets, wear socks, Ugg boots or slippers, dressing gowns etc. Dress for the weather and don’t expect your home to feel like summer in winter. Do the reverse in summer, dress down, open everything up for a cross breeze etc.

Use flannelette sheeting on your bed, polar fleece and warm pj’s in winter, cotton and cool pj’s in summer.

Block out curtains with pelmets help reduce a lot of heat loss through windows in winter and prevent heat from coming in for summer.

Water

It’s essential but you don’t have to use a lot. Growing up during drought times and sometimes living on tank water means we look at water differently to those who always had access. Here are a few tips to reduce usage and your bills.

15. Get a Timer for the Shower

Water bills can skyrocket if showers are not kept in check. Work out how long is needed then set a timer. Realistically, most things such as shaving do not need to be done in the shower. When we were in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, water and electricity is expensive (plus we couldn’t get hot water where we were). So there was a technique used to reduce time but maximise use.

We’d get in, get our bodies wet then turn the water off. Later up, scrub our bodies, put shampoo in our hair then turn the water back on to rinse. Turn it off to use conditioner etc then on again to rinse. This wasn’t really by choice but it certainly changed our habits and view of water usage.

When it came to shaving, this was always done in the sink, not the shower. The sink would have some water put in it for shaving and rinsing then you could do a final quick rinse in the shower. But you did not leave the tap running when shaving and did not shave in the shower.

16. Switch Water Off

Do not let the tap run when you are brushing teeth, washing dishes, shaving or anything else. Only have it on when you are actually using it. So much water is wasted this way.

If you have to turn it on and wait for it to heat up, capture that water for other uses e.g. in your washing machine, soaking clothes, watering the garden etc.

17. Reuse Water

A lot of water we use can be repurposed. For example, redirect the water from the washing machine to the garden to water the grass and keep it green without wasting water later.

Bath water can be used to soak clothes if it’s not too dirty or again, scooped out for the garden etc. When you are cooking and draining anything you’ve cooked, drain it into a container. Vegetable water can be used in soup for extra flavour or again, on the garden.

Entertainment

Right now, it probably feels as if all the fun has been sucked out of life and instead you are simply stressed out. Fun doesn’t need to be expensive plus for some hobbies you can make money.

18. Free Fun In Your Area

The library has already been mentioned for some free fun such as borrowing books, magazines, toys and doing storytime. Most also offer eBooks, DVD’s etc.

Check Facebook events for free events in your area such as nighttime cinemas in the park, tai chi or other classes, live bands etc.

19. Frugal Hobbies and Activities

As mentioned, we enjoy outdoor activities and most are free other than the initial cost of gear such as hiking, bike riding, swimming, surfing, snorkelling, fishing etc.

Geocaching is a popular one but there are so many more hobbies which are free to do but a lot of fun. Check out 37 frugal activities for families.

21. Gifts

There is no reason you need to go into debt or bankrupt over gifts. We don’t give many gifts at all. Since we live away from family, we often just do a video call. For the kids, we buy what they want on sale and stick to our budget.

Check out Cheap but thoughtful gift ideas to help you with gift-giving.

Beauty

When it comes to beauty, self-care and hygiene items, it can get expensive. Aside from buying the products you need on sale and getting reusable items e.g period underwear (check out our review of various options and some discounts), there are other things you can do.

21. DIY and Cheap Beauty

I was a hairdresser and beautician so I DIY it all but I know not everyone is comfortable with that. However, some things such as a coffee body scrub can be made with your leftover ground coffee if you make your own at home or ask a cafe for their leftover grounds. Coffee scrubs cost $20 but can be made for free.

Check out 7 Tips for Beauty on a Budget for more tips on what to do yourself and how to do a lot of beauty for free or cheaply.

Make More Money

There are only so many ways you can cut back but ultimately, you have to spend some money on living. Once you have cut back and sorted your budget, look for how you can make more money.

22. Ways to Make Money in 2022

Whether it’s online surveys, starting a business, voiceover work, renting out a room or using the share economy, there are so many ways to make extra money now. Check out 22 Ways to Make Money on the Side in 2022.

23. Pick Something and Stick to it

Lists like this can be overwhelming because you don’t know where to start and feel you need to do all the things. However, the most important thing is to do what you can stick to and make a habit. Which tip above appeals to you and feels easy enough to implement? Start there.

Then next week, add another and another then before you know it, your habits will be a whole lot more frugal without having to do a major overhaul.

When we try to do everything at once, it is usually stressful and difficult. Then when we aren’t perfect at it, we feel like failures. Go easy on yourself, pick something to start and be proud of yourself for making a difference now.

For more tips, check out Household Budgeting and Finance Q&A with loads of expert tips, including this article.

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