10 Money Saving Tips for 2024

There are some simple things you can start doing now to save more money fast. Setting a food budget, auditing your utility bills and opting for more affordable holidays can all help you reduce your expenses. Read on for 10 big money saving tips.

Introduction

The only way to sustainably get ahead financially is to spend less than you earn, and consistently invest the difference. One side of this is to make more money, and the other side is to spend less money. It’s pretty difficult to out-earn poor spending habits, so in this article, we will explore ten ways you can start saving money and working towards FI.

money saving tips, cash
The only way to sustainably get ahead financially is to spend less than you earn, and consistently invest the difference.

1 – Set a grocery budget (and stick to it)

Setting a grocery budget (and sticking to it) was the way I was able to get my grocery spending down from $300 per week to under $50 per week! Whilst you might not want to take it to the level I did, doing some meal planning and focusing on buying healthy, whole food plant-based foods on special and in bulk is a great way to slash your bills. I would then bulk cook batches of food and freeze them up (for example roasted veggies, stir fries, brown rice and pasta). Things like pumpkin, potatoes, pastas, lentils, beans and seasonal produce are your friends! You can check out my article on how to save by buying in bulk HERE.

In summary this was a fun experiment, but I won’t be continuing to deliberately track my grocery spending. The reason is because even though I knew I could have what I wanted, I was still always writing down what I spent and I think subconsciously this affected my spending decisions and feeling of freedom. I caught myself more than once thinking ‘I’ve done my shopping this month, I am way over budget so I am not buying anything else’. That is not a healthy approach to take when it comes to your food and budgeting.

Captain FI – ‘My 2020 grocery shopping exposed’ – https://captainfi.com/2020-grocery-bill/

grocery budget
Doing some meal planning and focusing on buying healthy, whole food plant-based foods on special and in bulk is a great way to slash your bills.

2. Downsize your car, reduce (or eliminate) your driving

Driving is a significant cost to most workers, especially those with a long commute

Breaking the cost down into a ‘per kilometer figure’, the average Aussie commuter spends 44 to 54cents in operating costs, 70c in depreciation and either somewhere between 11 to 90c in financing or opportunity costs; an average of $1.70 per kilometre. Based off the average 7200km yearly commute, this is $12,204, and doesn’t factor in the additional costs of tolls, parking, pleasure driving or other add-ons like roadside assistance, fluffy dice, car washes and air fresheners!

The research from my dedicated article ‘The Real cost of driving to work‘ still underestimates the total cost that cars are costing Australians, with Budget Direct1 research showing the standard two-car household spends nearly $15,807 per year on each of their vehicles, with metropolitan households spending a touch more at just under $18,000!

If we wanted to equate this to an hourly rate – let’s take this middle figure of $15,807, add the lost productivity and then divide it by the number of hours spent driving. The simple math for the Aussie household is $15,807+16,800 / 240 = $135 per hour. Your commute is costing you a combined direct cost and opportunity cost of $135 per hour, and that is before you have even considered the additional risk of motor vehicle accidents and also the chronic health risks you face spending such a long time behind the wheel!

If you aren’t able to fully eliminate your driving, reducing the amount you drive can still save you thousands per year. Techniques to reduce your driving include;

  • Taking public transport
  • Cycling (including riding an e-bike for longer commutes)
  • Car-pooling with coworkers, family or friends
  • Moving closer to your work
  • Working from home or working remotely
  • Working flexible hours (and choosing to avoid peak hour / rush hour)

Many people like to retain a vehicle for emergencies (myself included). By downsizing to a smaller, older or more economical car, you can firstly free up a chunk of money that you had tied up in the larger vehicle, and secondly, you are saving thanks to reduced depreciation and lower operating costs (registration, insurance, maintenance and fuel).

Check out my dedicated article on how to save money on your cars here

save money on cars, reduce driving costs
Reducing the amount you drive can still save you thousands per year.

3. Take your own food when you leave the house (including going to work)

Whether you are going to work, on a bushwalk, or road trip – taking your own food when you leave the house is a surefire way to save money fast. Whenever I go on a long road trip, I always pack an esky with plenty of ice-cold water and healthy, delicious snacks such as;

  • Almonds
  • Carrot sticks and hummus
  • Sandwiches
  • Fruit
  • Flask of hot water (for Tea or coffee, hot chocolates or instant soups)

By taking my own food and drinks, I am not tempted to buy unhealthy, sugary, fatty snacks from service stations when I need to refuel.

The same principle applies to packed lunches or coffees for work – saving $10 to $20 every day seriously adds up to thousands per year saved.

4. Set a household budget

Setting a household budget is a core skill everyone should know how to do. Successful budgeting will let you;

  • Know exactly where your money is being spent – so you might be able to negotiate a better deal or find a better service
  • Understand what ratios your money is being spent on, and allow you to prioritise what you spend your money on based on your values
  • Maximise your savings rate towards your goal
  • Apply for home loans (mortgage), finance or certain jobs. All of these require good self-finance discipline and introspection
  • Stop paying for services you don’t need, or want! (… that old gym membership that you never use because you moved towns?)

“Having a budget helps you see where your money is going. You can put aside money for bills and expenses and set up a plan to reach your financial goals.”

moneysmart.gov.au/budgeting/how-to-do-a-budget3

in order to set (and stick to) a household budget you will need to;

Apps like WeMoney can help you track your expenses, set money goals and keep on top of your spending. You can check out my review of WeMoney HERE.

audit bills, save money on bills, budget
Setting a household budget is a core skill. Apps like WeMoney can help you track you expenses and set money goals

5. Downsize your home (and move closer to work)

Accomodation is one of the ‘big four’ (Accomodation, Transport, Food and Holidays) when it comes to spending, so naturally, it deserves to be in the spotlight when it comes to saving money.

Consider – if you are a single professional working in the city, would you really need to live in a 6 bedroom McMansion in the suburbs, an hour commute away? Downsizing really just means to look at what’s appropriate, both in terms of what something is going to cost you in terms of a mortgage or rent, but also what it’s going to cost you in terms of time for maintenance, cleaning and commuting to work.

The catch 22 is that often accommodation is more expensive closer to work hubs like the CBD – there is always a compromise that can be struck, so draw up a cost/benefits analysis and figure out which area and style of accommodation suits your needs more. Remember to include the True cost of commuting (about $135 per hour!)

6. Limit expensive Hobbies – and try to find ones that generate income

I used to love hiring hideously expensive aircraft to go flying with friends (some used to cost me over $770 per hour to fly!). When I got my instructor’s licence and a job flying warbirds, I was able to turn an incredibly expensive hobby into an income source.

Similarly, I also really enjoy beekeeping, and whilst the equipment was expensive initially, I was able to more than recoup all of my costs from selling honey, honeycomb and other bee products such as wax wraps I had made.

7. Grow your own Food at home – Veggie patch and fruit trees

Victory gardens were very common during wartime4, and sensible people have always had a home veggie patch, fruit trees and even chooks where possible. Nothing tastes quite as good as what you grow yourself, you can also be sure they are safe and free from pesticides and other chemicals, and once you are set up these become a recurring, sustainable source of free food.

I have found growing expensive specialty foods (that don’t travel well) has been the most cost-effective – such as figs, mulberries, strawberries, stone fruit (apricots, plums, peaches and nectarines), tomatoes and herbs. I don’t really bother growing things that I can buy cheaply in mass (such as rice, potatoes or wheat).

If you’re not a natural green thumb and need some tips on gardening and growing your own food, visit a local library to borrow books on the subject!

8. Learn how to DIY

Learning how to DIY has been a huge way I have been able to save money – for example, servicing my car went from a $200-$300 service down to paying $40 to $60 in parts.

9. Take local holidays instead – try a ‘staycation’

Rather than boarding a kerosene burner and burning dinosaurs flying to the other side of the globe to vacation, take a local holiday instead, like a ‘stay cation’. I have lost count of the number of times I have moved from an area, only to end up returning some years later and end up wanting to check out some of the local tourist attractions. Checking out our local tourism industry seems to just be one of the things we never really think to do when we live somewhere.

A way I love to vacation is to road trip and camp. I camped my way from Newcastle to Perth when I got a new flying job, and spent 9 weeks doing so – it was brilliant!

save money on holidays, money saving tips
Have you tried a staycation before? They can save you serious money and the kids could even get involved in choosing what to do!

10. Reduce your household utilities consumption

No list on how to save money would be complete without someone saying ‘turn your appliances off at the wall’ would it? Haha.

“Our latest data shows energy bills are a growing cause of headaches for households – 80% were concerned by electricity costs, up from 64% in January 2022.”

www.choice.com.au/money/budget/cost-of-living/articles/our-top-money-saving-tips5

In all seriousness though, you can obtain substantial savings on your home utilities by paying attention to a few of these details;

  • Heat the person, not the space – make sure you dress appropriately in winter!
  • Use a heat bag (wheat pack) or hot water bottle and not an electric blanket
  • In summer, use a fan, not the air conditioning. If you must, try to set it to as low a temperature difference as you can stand.
  • eliminate drafts in the house (for example using door or window snakes)
  • Try to insulate your house as best as possible – using things like verandahs, shutters, blinds, curtains, and even passive techniques like planting deciduous trees or vines which shade your house and windows in summer but allow the lower winter sun in.
  • Make use of the cooler nights and warmer days to passively heat or cool your home by opening and shutting windows or doors as needed.
  • Consider investing in things like solar panels, additional insulation batons (wall and roof), double-glazed windows, flyscreens, and screen doors
  • Do your washing off-peak timing, and HANG the washing out (don’t use a tumble drier). Similarly, run your dishwasher off-peak. If you use solar arrays, try to use your appliances when your panels are producing their peak output wattage.
  • Consider upgrading to newer, more energy-efficient appliances. Good quality second-hand appliances that are 1-5 years old are generally going to be MUCH more efficient than your 20-year-old fridge freezer you’ve kept for far too long.
bills, money saving tips
You can obtain substantial savings on your home utilities by paying attention to a few details and being aware of peak and off-peak use

Conclusion

Hopefully these tips and ways to save money have helped, and now with your savings plan and the extra savings you have, don’t forget Cash is Trash! So whether you place your savings in an online savings account or in your mortgage offset bank account as an Emergency fund (and to reduce the amount of interest paid), or invested in shares, or used to pay any high-interest debt repayments, that will be up to you and your own personal financial situation.

One thing is for sure though, follow these steps above, and you’re sure to make some significant savings which will get you one step closer to financial independence.

Reference List:

  1. ‘Car Running Costs in Australia 2020’, Budget Direct. Accessed online at https://www.budgetdirect.com.au/car-insurance/research/car-owner-cost statistics.html#:~:text=The%20average%20weekly%20cost%20for%20a%20two%2Dcar%20household%20in,areas%20around%20Australia%20was%20%2426.33 on Jan 2, 2023.
  2. ‘What Is a Budget Surplus? What’s the Impact, and Pros & Cons?’, Julia Kagan, Investopedia. Published (updated): Nov 21, 2020. Accessed online at https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/budget-surplus.asp#:~:text=Surplus%20is%20the%20amount%20of,surplus%20and%20its%20economic%20impact.&text=A%20budget%20deficit%20occurs%20when,government%20spending%20and%20national%20debt on Jan 2, 2023.
  3. ‘How to do a budget’, MoneySmart.gov.au. Accessed online at https://moneysmart.gov.au/budgeting/how-to-do-a-budget on Jan 2, 2023.
  4. ‘Victory gardens: A war-time hobby that’s back in fashion’, Ellie Howard, BBC. Published: 26 May, 2020. Accessed online at https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20200524-victory-gardens-a-war-time-hobby-thats-back-in-fashion on Jan 2, 2023.
  5. ‘Our top money-saving tips’, Liam Kennedy, Choice. Published (updated): 25 Nov, 2022. Accessed online at https://www.choice.com.au/money/budget/cost-of-living/articles/our-top-money-saving-tips?gclid=CjwKCAiA-8SdBhBGEiwAWdgtcHHHYs3-zVB9YR0vX9e9ONiIljxc5MFapr-Zs8yH9GoRorjfS4r4ixoC3t4QAvD_BwE on Jan 2, 2023.
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