If you’re feeling like your spending habits are out of control, and you won’t ever be on top of your finances, you’re not alone. From spending more than you earn to just being stressed out about money in general, Australians are worrying themselves sick about money.
If you’re ready to kick your bad spending habits to the curb and take control of your money once and for all, it doesn’t have to be just spreadsheets, budgets and stress. We know that breaking bad spending habits can be hard especially when it comes to knowing where to start and how to stick with it when unexpected bills pop up. Let’s face it – it all starts with making step by step changes. You don’t want to go all out and then not be able to stick with your resolutions.
We’ve put together a list of creative ways to improve your spending habits. Some tips might be for you, and others won’t. Not to worry, just apply the ones that seem like they will be most useful for you and see what sticks.
21-day financial fast
Doing a financial fast is a clever way to conquer those bad habits. Why? That’s because bad habits are something that take some time to build. That means they also take time to break.
Basically, the 21-day financial fast is like a detox, where you only spend money on things that you need. Note – need. Not want. Use the last bits of food in your fridge creatively before you go get more and let the old stuff go off. And no, you’re not allowed to use your credit card!
Basically, it forces you to look at how you have been spending your money and helps you to make changes for the better. After all, people spend more money when they use a plastic card because it doesn’t feel like they are using money. That plastic is deceiving, so try spending cold, hard cash.
Give up expensive habits
Before you tell us you’re not splurging, take a look at the habits that are making your life a little more convenient, or fun. Ordering lunch or coffee, catching smoko or sipping on some delicious wine after work – they all make you feel good in the moment, until you look at your bank balance.
If your vice is Macca’s, try making a few burgers at home rather. Try giving up those habits like drinking, smoking and even your daily coffee habit. Its going to be worth it and, besides, not only are they bad for your health but they are bad for your budget.
Calculate how much you spend on each habit per month, then times that by 12. The amount you spend on that bad habit might surprise you. Think about all the other things you could have spent your money on, or how you could use it in the future to send your kid to university or put towards a dream of your own. This could be enough motivation to get rid of that bad habit, or at least cut it back to an expense that is only occasional.
Another strategy that might help you to curb these expensive habits is to replace your old habit with a new healthier habit. Why not go for a walk or a run? If you have a dog you could take it for a walk instead of indulging in your old expensive habit. Get your friends over for a potluck dinner to save a few dollars or try something that feeds your soul, instead, like some volunteer work or a meditation practice. The list is endless, but remember we’re trying to replace expensive habits with cheaper – or free – ones.
Do workouts at home
There’s no denying that it’s a good idea to invest in your health, but gym memberships can be expensive. This is particularly true when you consider that you may be tempted to stay at home rather than gearing up and heading out. Since you’re already at home, why not save money by streaming fitness classes online? There are so many videos available, especially on YouTube. You can do your workouts in the comfort of your own home. You can even get creative and use items in your house and turn your place into a home gym. Check out this link for household items you can use as exercise equipment.
Other ways you can save money on fitness is by getting outdoors! Go for a run, walk or bike ride. Some local parks even have exercise equipment that members of the public have free access to. Another way to get fit without it costing too much swimming a few laps in your public pool. Although most pools aren’t free to access, their fees are usually nominal and they often have specials or bulk buy discounts. How about those tedious chores you’re doing? Time to shift your mindset there, too. If you’re cleaning rigorously enough, you could make cleaning your house your workout. It’s surprising at how many calories you can burn just from doing a thorough clean of your house.
Get rid of stuff you don’t use
It’s a good idea to go through your stuff and do a cull of the things you don’t use. You could either make money from them selling your unused bits and bobs on websites like Gumtree, or you could just give them away, and just get rid of the clutter. The result? An uncluttered home that is a more enjoyable place to be in so that you want to spend more time there. When you spend more time at your home you don’t spend as much money – unless you have an online shopping addiction in which case, you’ll want to consider locking your devices in a kitchen cabinet during certain hours of the day.
Come on, you can do this. Save those bucks!
Invite some friends over
Now that you’ve gotten rid of the clutter and your place looks great, get your friends over. It’s possible to have a healthy social life on a budget. That way you can save money that you would have otherwise spent on going out. Here are some ideas of fun activities you can do when your buddies come over:
- Have a games night – get a few games out or set your house up for a few rounds of charades and spend the night playing the different games. It’s most likely to have a night filled with laughter and joy.
- Watch a movie – having a movie night at home is a much more affordable way of watching a movie than going to the cinema. Also, being at home means you can get super comfy, which you wouldn’t be able to do if you were at the cinema.
- Have a pamper night – sometimes you just need a night that makes you feel great. Do a face mask, paint your nails, do a hair mask and get your friends to share some of their secret tips for looking and feeling good.
- Karaoke night – if you’ve got a musical streak and love to sing, have a karaoke night. This is sure to make you feel good.
- That potluck dinner idea, again – but just hear us out. It’s a dinner party where everyone makes a meal or brings what’s in their fridge like cheese and wine – instead of having to worry about catering for all the food yourself or spending your hard-earned money on food, you’ll be able to dine ‘out’ with minimal costs.
Do some basic energy efficiency around your living quarters
Make your home more energy efficient by doing a few little things around the home. For instance, you can replace regular light bulbs with LED bulbs. You could even swap your shower heads to low-flow shower heads, and your taps to be more water efficient. Doing all of this could help you to save money on both your electricity and water bills.
Another way you could save money is by creating your own compost pile. This can turn into a healthy compost that you can put on your garden. Not only does it save you money by saving you from having to buy expensive composts to get those herbs and veggies to grow, but it also helps you to reduce the amount of waste you produce at home.
Alternatively, you could consider installing solar panels onto the roof of your house. There is an initial investment, but you should end up saving you a lot of money in the long run, while also having a positive impact on the environment. You’ll want to look at this when you know you’ll be settling into a home for a while, though, so you don’t fork out cash so someone else can reap the rewards.
Use a pay as you go phone
Unless you are a heavy mobile phone user, it could be worth getting a pay as you go phone. That way you only top-up credit as you need it, instead of entering into an expensive mobile phone contract that can end up costing you much more in the long run.
Using a pay as you go phone may also help you to monitor your spending habits better, because you won’t have any ‘out of bundle’ options on hand in case you use more data than you should. When it’s used up, it’s used up.
Top tip – make sure you look for a pay as you go provider that lets your unused extras credit and data roll over to the next month.
Buy in bulk
It’s a good idea to bulk buy the things that you use all the time. When you buy things in bulk you save money and time. If you do your homework, you’ll be able to find a store with a discount, and by not having to go to the shop multiple times to buy the thing that you always use. It’s not just money you’ll be saving – imagine how good it would feel to know you always have those essentials on hand! After all, no one should have to face a disgruntled toddler whose favourite cereal is finished – life is hard enough already.
Use refillable water bottles and keep them in the fridge
Buying water when you’re out and about can be incredibly costly and add up over time. If you keep water bottles filled up and refrigerated, they can be easy to just grab when you are on the go. This is also a more eco-friendly way of operating.
Do something for a cause you care about
Instead of doing something social that is expensive, why not volunteer your time for a cause you care about. You could meet people who are interested in similar things. Of course, there’s also the added benefit of having a positive impact on a good cause.
Switch to a bank that works for you
Changing to a bank that has no account fees and better interest rates can end up saving you a lot of money. Check out the MoneySmart website to find out more about how changing bank accounts is a good financial option. https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/banking/switching-bank-accounts
Sign up for the customer rewards programs where you shop already
Make sure you ask your local grocery store, servo or coffee shop about their rewards programs. It is usually free to sign up and you can benefit from lots of deals and discounts offered to you by the rewards programs they have.
Work out what your most cost-effective grocery store is and shop there
It’s a good idea to shop at the most cost-effective grocery store. Sometimes you need to shop at the more expensive places to get things that you can’t get at the low-cost store. However, they can be a perfect way to get the basics. This is another way to change your spending habits to make your lifestyle more cost-effective.
If your local fruit and veggie market or store is cheaper, or the quality is better and things last longer, make that your go-to. It will be a bit tricky to shop at different places in the beginning, but it’ll be so worth it when you’re looking at those extra dollars in your account at the end of the month.
Check your cupboards and fridge before you hit the grocery store
Checking what you have before you get more is great a good habit to get into. You could use this time to chuck out that old lump of hard cheese that no one is going to eat, and figure out what’s left that you could be resourceful and creative with. You may just save yourself from having to go the grocery store until a bit later. You could also save yourself from having to by something that you’ve already got.
Whenever you make dinner, make twice and freeze the extras
Nope, this isn’t just something our grans do. This is a great time and money saving hack. It’s also a great way to change your spending habits by getting into the habit of cooking and preparing meals in advance, instead of buying them when you’re pushed for time or feeling a little lazy. You’ll probably also feel organised and on top of things – look at you go!
Now, we know you may be thinking that in order to have something to freeze you’ll have to cook one heck of a lot of food, so here’s our top tip – add veggies. Whether it’s bolognaise or a casserole, adding heaps of extra veggies, beans or grains will help you bulk up your meals without breaking the bank. We all know meat can be expensive! Plus there are the health benefits of extra greens!
On a lazy afternoon do a maintenance run
When you have some free time, a good idea of something you can do is go around your place is a maintenance check. This means going around the house and checking that all your appliances are running well, and keeping your eyes peeled for any leaks, cracks or things not performing as well as they should. If anything is broken and needs fixing, spend some time doing a bit of tinkering. That way you may save yourself from having to buy some brand-new items if they break down in the future.
Of course, we’re not recommending that you take on any serious plumbing, building or electrical work, but being aware of, and proactive about, maintenance issues could save you a lot of money in the long run.
Keep a notebook handy
Ever tried keeping a physical notebook or using an app? This is a pretty handy way to keep a track of your expenses. Monitoring your spending habits in this way may help you to pick up on areas where you could improve – it’s that old taking a step back and seeing the big picture thing. Worth a try!
Consolidate your debts
If you have multiple outstanding debts, it’s might be a good idea to get these out of the way. That way you can free up your money to be spent on the important things or saved. You can even get a personal loan to pay off all your outstanding debts. That way you only need to worry about making one repayment and paying one set of fees.
Rent a book or movie from the library
The library can be a great money saving resource. Instead of buying a brand new book or downloading the latest blockbuster off Netflix, just go to the library and borrow it for a little while. Libraries also have other resources such as DVDs you can rent out too. It’s a great resource for fulfilling your entertainment needs.
Ready to change your spending habits?
At the end of the day, changing your spending habits is very possible with a little bit of work and some persistence. It may take time to change, but by using some of the strategies we’ve mentioned here you’ll be on the road to having good spending habits in no time. So, what are you going to try?