6 things to stop buying to save real money

2 min read

First appeared in The Cusp

Small savings goals are important, but are you really going to save for a house deposit or a Europe trip in takeaway coffees alone? 

Here are six substitutions to make on things you’re already buying – that could save you thousands per year. 

  • Alcohol

    This isn’t a request to cut out socialising and fun: it’s just a suggestion to be smarter with your drinking.

    When you go out for dinner and drinks, choose a BYO restaurant so you’re not spending $60 on a bottle that you know retails for $12. If you’re a fan of top-shelf spirits, consider restricting yourself to a single night at a bar, or head to happy hour. If you’re really committed, head out with cash only, and limit your spending on drinks once your wallet is empty.

    Cutting out alcohol completely will improve your health and save thousands in the long run, but starting with sensible choices a couple of times a week at dinner could help to make a difference to your bank balance.

    Estimated saving: $200-$400/ month

  • Subscriptions

    If you listen to music, watch TV or movies, or like reading, there’s a good chance you’ve got an online subscription to something deducting from your bank account every month. These subscriptions may be fun however if you’re not using all of them all the time, those transactions could be adding up to a lot.

    If you’ve got a TV subscription but use it only for sport, reduce your package for most of the year. If you’ve got a newspaper subscription coming out weekly but only read once a month, consider cancelling, and reading your five free online articles instead. If you’ve got gym class pass debiting every month but skip yoga in winter, why not activate your subscription in summer only and stretch at home in the warm?

    Estimated saving: $150/month for all the above, but check your own superfluous subscriptions

  • Gym membership

    Exercise is important, but you can improve your health without parting with thousands per year. Be honest with yourself about how often you really go to the gym and what you do there, and work out whether a handful of casual classes, some free at-home exercises or a membership to a simpler but cheaper fitness centre may suit you and your bank balance better.

    If you’re currently lifting weights and jogging on a treadmill at a 24-hour gym twice a week, a $10 drop-in at your local council’s recreation centre and a jog in the park could give you the same but help you save. Same with swimming laps at the local pool, finding an in-training yoga teacher who gives $5 classes, or making yourself a mini circuit class in the yard with a skipping rope, a mat, and some cheap hand weights.

    Estimated saving: $100/month

  • Phone plans

    Your phone may take beautiful photos but ask yourself whether you need to be paying more than $100 per month for your handset, SMS and data? And if you’re on a plan with limited internet, it’s worth considering how you finance the unexpected $60 bill when you go a few gigs past your data limit.

    Prepaid plans may be cheaper, ensure you’ll never see surprise charges, and permit you to BYO handset, as well as freeing you up to move to a better deal if you see one around.

    Estimated saving: $80/month

  • Beauty products

    If you’re dropping hundreds of dollars on online makeup orders per month, a few easy substitutions could save you money.

    Keep track of which products you use regularly and consider saving on the ones you buy just for fun. Coral lipstick is cool, but if it’s not your signature, is a $70 tube worth it?

    Estimated saving: $50–$200/month, depending on your personal beauty approach

  • Casual meals out

    A takeaway coffee grabbed on your way to the office. Food court lunch with a colleague. A quick pad thai ordered to arrive at home at the same time as you do. All of a sudden, you’ve spent $50 on food in a day without even realising.

    You’re still allowed to have lunch with a colleague or skip cooking when you just can’t be bothered. But being more mindful about when you’re eating out could save you hundreds per month. Instead of $12 burritos, grab a cheap ready-made soup and a roll from the supermarket. If you’re cooking at home, make a double batch to take for lunch so you’re not empty-handed and hungry at 12pm the next day.

    While skipping that takeaway coffee won’t by itself build your fortune, passing it over once in a while in favour of mindfully saving money will set you up with the perspective and plans to save thousands per year.

    Estimated saving: $200/month

These things may seem small on their own but taken together they add up to $1,130 per month, or $13,560 per year. While they’re just rough estimates, they could make big long-term savings.

A little thought goes a long way – and all the effort adds up. Remember you’re not sacrificing everything you enjoy and you’ll look forward to those splurges all the more. You’ll definitely find it worth it in the long run when you’ve made headway on your house deposit, or when you can afford that Europe trip, all that much sooner.

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Article prepared by The Cusp and reused with permission. Information current as at August 2018 and may contain material provided by third parties and is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date.  It should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor relied upon as such. While this material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses this material.  Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.   This information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your personal objectives, financial situation and needs having regard to these factors before acting on it.

The estimated savings are predictive in character.  Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the assumptions on which the estimated savings are based are reasonable, the estimated savings may be based on incorrect assumptions or may not take into account known or unknown risks and uncertainties.  The results ultimately achieved may differ materially from these estimated.