Managing our finances is an age-old struggle. For decades we’ve been looking for clues to cut back on our spending, and while there's advice available, it quickly becomes overcomplicated as we get lost in a labyrinth of incomings and outgoings trying to support and supply ourselves and our loved ones with whatever they need to succeed.
For many of us, we live paycheque to paycheque, struggling to stay afloat by the time the last week of the month rolls around. In many situations, the reasons why we don’t save enough, or budget strategically, is not because our income is too little, but because we spend too much. When we’re overspending, it can be hard to pinpoint where exactly we’re overdoing it, and on top of that many of us find it can be a real struggle to break our long-term habits.
To give you a head start on cutting back on your household expenses, we’ve compiled our 10 top tips to help you get the most out of your income so you can keep more money in your account.
When we don’t know where our money is going, it’s hard to reduce our expenses. Think of it in the same perspective as when we’re trying to lose weight – if we don’t know where we’re overindulging it's tricky to shift those extra pounds. Even if we believe we’re living within our means, we could be frivolously spending hundreds a month on small purchases without even realizing it!
To spot your problem areas, print out your bank statements and use various colored highlighters to identify your different types of spending. This way, you’ll be able to establish your wants from your needs and determine where it is possible to make cutbacks.
Alternatively, you can scribble down each purchase you make which will lead you to be more considerate of your spending instead of mindlessly tapping your card here, there, and everywhere. You might truly shock yourself with how much of your paycheque is going on takeaway coffees and lunches!
Living on a budget may seem like no fun at all, but if you’re trying to get a handle on your finances it’s the perfect place to start. Generally, when people strive to budget their household spends, it becomes intricate and complicated, especially when we think of those who financially depend on us.
Instead, determine your income and simply split your allowance into subsections that apply to you and your family. For example, your ‘needs’ such as monthly bills, food, petrol, and school supplies. Your ‘wants’, which may be as little as a magazine subscription or as big as a family holiday, and your ‘goals’ like clearing any debts or compiling a rainy-day fund.
By separating your spending habits to be more transparent, you can monitor your expenditure and easily identify places where you can make adjustments in each of your outlined categories.
These days the majority of us have Netflix accounts, Spotify logins, Amazon Prime credentials, gym memberships plus the rest – you name it and there’s a subscription service for it!
For the most part, these things tend to be pretty affordable so once we set it up, we don’t really think about it again. Alas, when we add up all the different channels we’re subscribed to, a great chunk of our pay packet is going towards these subscriptions and chances are you’re probably not getting much use out of all of them – there’s only so many hours in a day!
Once you figure out what subscriptions you're paying for, ask yourself if they're worth it, how often do you use them, and could you live without them? Even by cutting down from 5 streaming platforms to 2, you’ll save yourself a considerable amount of money over the year.
Although we need electricity to power our homes, there are numerous ways in which you can lower your utility bills. A few quick and easy money-saving hacks that you and your family can start today are: making sure you are turning off everything at the plug sockets, not running the dishwasher unless fully loaded, hanging out laundry instead of running the dryer, and changing your lightbulbs to energy-efficient ones.
When looking at utility bills in general, shop around to see if you can find a cheaper alternative from another service provider.
A lot of our household expenses go towards our weekly grocery shops. Instead of heading into the supermarket blind, plan your meals for the upcoming week and take a shopping list with you. This should prevent you from impulse buying any unnecessary items. Besides excess buying in supermarkets, having a meal plan in place will dissuade you from eating out or ordering take-out, which in the long run can save a lot of money.
Often when we forego a home-cooked meal it's because we've had a hectic day. Preparing and cooking meals can be time-consuming, so to save time in the long run, dedicate one afternoon to meal-prepping in larger quantities for the week ahead. Portion out those recipes into daily meal containers so you can grab one on the go, or for long-term convenience, you can freeze some of those meals, providing a quick feed for future busy days.
In this day and age carrying cash may seem like a pretty archaic concept. However, numerous studies have shown that people tend to spend less when they use cash as they get the visceral experience of actually seeing and feeling their money being spent. Think about it: when we go out and let our hair down, tapping our cards (especially after a drink) is all too easy that we struggle to keep track of our spending until we check our banking app the following morning filled with dread and regret – we've all been there! By opting to take cash out with you, you set yourself a limit on what you can spend, which may even help ease that hangover.
The same goes for carrying cash on shopping trips. It nudges us to be more realistic on what we can treat ourselves and our loved ones to as we can’t rely on overdrafts or debts, meaning it’s impossible to spend beyond our means.
When we don’t have money to hand, it’s a common habit to reach for a credit card. However, the speed at which the balance grows on those cards can mean we end up owing more than we should, particularly if the interest rate is high.
Consider freezing your credit cards to cut your monthly expenses. In fact, if you’re worried temptation will get the better of you, you can literally freeze your card in a block of ice, meaning you’ll have to wait for it to thaw before even thinking about using it. This way, the issuer won’t authorize any new charges and the recurring payments you’ve set up will continue to be processed, and the faster you’re rid of your debts, the more money you’ll have in your monthly budget.
Many times when we’re going to catch up with friends or want to spend quality time with our family, we choose activities that come with a price, but having fun doesn’t have to put a dent in your bank account!
Instead of scheduling activities that prompt you to spend money, focus on doing free things such as an afternoon hike, free concerts in the park, or a joint dog walk. The more time you spend having fun that doesn’t cost a penny, the less time you’ll have to waste your hard-earned cash on things you don’t necessarily need.
Whether shopping for yourself or for your family, make sure you’re not buying needless items by utilizing the one-in-one-out rule. That means every time you buy something new, you must get rid of an older item. It will trigger you to think, do I really need this?.
This rule works for most everyday purchases. When thinking of throwing out old items, either sell or donate those things to help contribute towards the cost of the new purchases which will also help in decluttering your space.
One of the most effective ways to cut back your spending is to simply dedicate certain days a week or month where you won’t purchase anything at all. Once you commit to buying nothing on particular days, you can transform your mindset in the long run which can help break any mindless spending habits by motivating you to come up with more creative solutions to meet your needs.
If no-spend days seem too extreme for your lifestyle, you can otherwise implement a 24-hour rule for your purchases. By delaying before hastily spending your paycheque, you offer yourself pause for thought as well as giving yourself time to shop around for the best price if it is something you truly believe you need.
Track your regular outgoings on your myFRP account with their frequency, amount, and which bank account they are paid from. You can store things like utility bills, rent/mortgage payments, maintenance plans, children’s extracurricular programs, and debt repayments, as well as any other bills relevant to you and your household.
You can also find more tips for getting the most out of your finances in our Resource Library.
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