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10 clever ways to fight inflation and slash your costs

Compilation image of pile of cash with wardrobe of kids clothes and a man at the petrol pump in anguish
Families typically spend more during the school holidays, which are fast approaching. (Source: Getty)

This is part one of a two-part series on how to cleverly cut your costs to combat inflation and the cost-of-living spike.

When the global credit crack-up hit in 2008, the scramble to slash our spending overnight brought about a craze called cocooning.

Very simply, cocooning is recreating restaurant, bar and cinema experiences at home… complete with DIY gastronomy, cocktails and popcorn.

Today, fresh off interminable COVID lockdowns, cocooning is about as appealing as another nasal swab.

Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

But with prices pushing up all around us, the impetus to cut our costs is back… and there are 10 what-I-call “stinge-spired” ways to do it - they’re smarter, easier hip-pocket hacks.

They sure beat giving up the fun stuff again.

I offer the first five stinge-spiration tips today and the second five in part two next week.

Stinge-spiration tip 10: Put in less petrol

Okay that’s the result… and here are some ideas to make it happen.

Firstly, drive as little as possible. No, you might not be able to cut kilometres, but equally, this is no longer an appealing time to take that driving holiday.

Then, it is about how you drive. Brake and accelerate, and change gears if relevant, like there are eggshells under the pedals. It will significantly reduce your consumption.

Also unload the boot. You might think this won’t make a difference but it will - carrying golf clubs is unnecessary and expensive.

And of course, use an app like PetrolSpy to source the best price at the pump.

Stinge-spiration tip 9: Spend less at the supermarket

My top tip here is to get seasonal… and the free magazines at all the major supermarkets are a good clue as to what produce is fresh and cheap.

Additionally, shopping late at night for this will help you find those ‘throw-out’ bargains. Unless of course they’ve all sold out again.

Work the reward programs too. For example, the new Woolworths points ‘boost’ ability is a great way to save.

And never go shopping without a list and, more importantly, a menu plan. Otherwise, you will end up buying random half-meals that will perish, taking your money with them.

Stinge-Spiration tip 8: Cut your kid (and adult) costs

Holidays are approaching and this is typically when families see a spend spike.

Instead, my advice is to sign up to the local library email now. And register nice and early for any and all of the free activities that interest your children. (Libraries still have books too, you know…)

If you’re going to hit a tourist attraction or two, source the discounts that will be available everywhere online and also consider buying The Entertainment Book from a local charity of your choice.

This will be about $70 and I love the discounts on not just fun days out but also a whole bunch of restaurants, bars and cinemas. This beats staying home the whole time and you should make your money back in no time.

But I digress. Getting back to outings with the kids, be sure to pack not just food but drinks… four drinks can easily, ridiculously, set you back $30.

Of course, you can also prioritise getting outdoors rather than getting in lines at theme parks.

It is a great time of year for bushwalking when it is colder and for the beach in summer.

Speaking of kids costs…

Child putting money into jars
Cut back on kids spending without cutting back on the fun. (Source: Getty)

Stinge-spiration tip 7: Spend less on your family’s clothes

Get your op shop on. If you’ve never tried it, it’s impossibly satisfying finding a great piece of clothing for a matter of dollars.

And there are often surprise designer bargains (try Instagram and Facebook marketplace and the like using hashtags like #shopmywardrobe and #resalenotretail too).

With kids outgrowing items perhaps as often as every three months, op shops also make perfect sense. There are even shoes here that have probably been barely worn.

Don’t forget to pay it forward as well, donating not just back to the op shops themselves but to specific families and children who could use it.

With any luck, karma – and free clothes – will come your way.

Stinge-spiration tip 6: Get selective on streaming

Have Netflix? Stan? YouTube? Have you sat down and thought about what your monthly subscriptions – for a few bucks here and there – actually add up to?

Lenders sure do when you apply for a mortgage - passing the so-called Netflix test to make sure your expenses aren’t excessive, is essential to getting a loan across the line.

So do a little audio and visual audit.

And don’t forget that you typically get one month free when you try any new streaming service.

Getting really stinge-spired: How many debit/credit cards could you sign up on and, before the end of each free trial, switch off from?

Read part two of how to slash your spend next week, when Nicole will outline her – not-so-much stinge-spiration this time but – win-spiration: how to cut every bill in your life and keep more cash for you. Plus, she will reveal the actual websites that let you do it easily.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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