Over the holidays Josh (my partner) and I moved house. We’re living in the granny flat at his mum’s property in Munruben Forest – it has a beautiful country cottage feel and I’m setting up a herb garden and veggie patch (slowly). We’re so lucky to pay ridiculously cheap rent and still get our own privacy plus kitchen, bathroom, lounge of our own and we got a wireless repeater to pick up the internet signal from the main house.
Clearly with our living costs so low I would be mad to not start saving, right? The question is HOW? This might be very straight forward for those accustomed to being financially savvy but for me it’s quite the challenge. I know the basics – spend less money – but after that I’m kind of scratching my head. So after (unsuccessfully) trying to convince Josh to become a vegetarian, trawling the net for some advice, talking to friends and family and thinking about the things I already do to save money, have come across a few gems of advice that I would like to share.
- Shop at ALDI – I’ve swallowed my pride and I even buy shampoo and conditioner from here now – their Protane is pretty similar to Pantene and while it’s not Biolage or Aveda, it is pretty good for $4.00. Basics like flour, sugar and olive oil are so much cheaper than they are at the big supermarkets and if you need specific items (ie. Chang’s crunchy noodles for crunchy noodle salad) then you can always duck into Coles and pick them up afterwards.
- Grow your own food – as much as you can! Read a bit about permaculture and organic gardening then get started. A few weeks back I dug up my sweet potatoes that I planted in January and they were huge. If you’re limited with space there are upside down tomato planters that you can hang from the patio roof, or try potted herbs. If you’re buying basics like parsley and basil at the supermarket you’re being ripped off – buy a little plant from Bunnings and all they need is a little water and sunlight. Plus, everything tastes better when you cook with fresh herbs.
- Bring your lunch to uni – Jump online and have a look at lunchbox recipes and ideas, or trawl through your cookbooks and put together a bit of a collection. Make sure you bring a water bottle to uni every day as well and you won’t be tempted to buy drinks either. Some nights you can just cook a bit more dinner and bring leftovers in to uni. Make some fruit muffins and freeze them or bring in microwave meals. So many options! Also check out the awesome stuff people do with Bento boxes.
- Student accounts – I bank with NAB so I don’t have account fees anyway, but if you are paying a monthly account fee then head in to your nearest branch with your student card and they will switch your account to a student one. Bye bye bank fees. If they don’t, switch banks!
- Use public transport – I know it doesn’t always agree with our schedules, but catching the bus or train can save both petrol and parking fees. Use the down time to read study notes or just chill with your iPod. If you’re a bit closer to uni, cycle or walk. If you have friends with the same classes and public transport is too much of a nightmare, car pool.
- Eat less meat. I’m a vego anyway but I’ve found that Josh will eat vegetarian with me a few nights a week – tofu is much cheaper than chicken! And if tofu isn’t your thing just make a stir fry without the meat, or whip up some veggie kebabs and grill them on the BBQ.
- Ditch your gym membership and get outside. Go for a run or walk or do some exercise DVDs. Even getting out in the garden is great exercise and you’ll get your Vitamin D fix while you’re there. Plus you’ll save on gym fees.
- Say no to takeaway. I cook a big meat lasagne for Josh and a big vege one for me at the same time, then we eat dinner and freeze the rest in portions. If we don’t feel like cooking, we’ll just reheat some lasagne in the microwave and steam some broccoli and make instant cous cous. Easy, healthy and we haven’t spent money on junk.
- Go camping. Clearly it will be an additional expense but if you’re desperate to get away for a weekend, you’ll find camping much cheaper than staying at a hotel. Plus you’ll be out and about in the great outdoors!
- Put money away in a high interest savings account. I have one with ING which is great because I can transfer money online and I don’t have a card for the account, which makes it a lot harder to spend the money!
So there are some practical tips I’ll be using to help me save – of course budgeting and tracking spending is a good idea too, then you can see how you’re tracking. I’m committed to the Semester of Saving so if you have any money saving tips, or the above ones helped you, please comment below!