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$400 a month saved: 3 Aussies share simple tricks to beat rising cost of living

Small changes can turn into big savings. Here's how.

If you’ve ever looked at your bank account expecting to see a healthy couple of hundred bucks in your transaction account, only to be brutally humbled by a figure that’d barely cover a KFC Zinger box meal, you might be dealing with money leaks.

Money leaks are small glitches in your financial behaviour that add up to bigger impacts on your bottom line. The work lunch, the little treat habit, the once-a-week takeaway that somehow spiralled into much more.

Plugging money leaks can feel tedious, but the payback can be rewarding. Yahoo Finance spoke to three Aussies who made some small changes to plug their money leaks and how they did it.

Emma Edwards has warned Aussies to check for money leaks that could be costing them hundreds of dollars a month.
Emma Edwards has warned Aussies to check for money leaks that could be costing them hundreds of dollars a month. (Emma Edwards)

Monique from WA had an unpleasant realisation that her occasional – or so she thought – work lunches were adding up to big bucks. Having been tracking her finances with her husband using Up Bank this year, Monique was prompted to check in on their at-work spending.

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“I walk through a food court to get to work,” she said.

The temptation was enough to blow off her meal prep or tell herself “I deserve this”.

The couple identified that they were spending $400 a month during the work day, on coffee, lunches and snacks.

They decided to taper their habit back without cutting it out entirely. Slicing the spend in half, they each have a budget of $100 a month for at-work spending.

She makes sure she has a good variety of snacks ready to go to help keep her on track with the new budget and beat the boredom that was driving her to go out and buy extras.

The pair are using their $200 savings to cover the rising cost of living, saying it’s given them “peace of mind that we can still have some spending freedom and cover our essentials as well”.

Milli and her husband Dan saw a video on TikTok that prompted them to investigate how often they were visiting the supermarket outside of their main weekly shop.

While many people intentionally do a midweek top up shop of fresh produce, some find themselves popping in for one or two things several times a week and unknowingly spending far more than they planned.

“I knew this could be a problem area for me, since the shops are literally on my daily commute home,” said Milli.

“I searched my banking app for Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, IGA, markets, anything I could think of, and added up not only the dollar value, but the number of times I was using them per week.”

“In my head we went once a week, maybe with a top up if we really needed something, but apparently we were doing multiple midweek top ups, as well as a weekend shop at a local market.”

Milli and Dan now spend half an hour on a Saturday planning meals for the week, including ‘lazy meals’ for weekends.

She estimates they’ve freed up “at least $100 a week, likely more” as they’re now also getting takeaway less often and reducing food waste by being smarter with the ingredients they buy.

“If we buy tortillas for one meal, we’ll find other ways to use them that week.”

The pair are saving up for their first trip to Europe this year, and say their grocery savings are “definitely helping”.

A mindset of “we'd rather spend that $100 on pizza and wine in Italy” is helping hold themselves accountable.

When Alexis from central Victoria became the default designated head chef at her four-person share house, she grew sick of having the ‘what’s for dinner’ conversation.

“I ended up cooking a lot as a default,” she said, adding that splitting the cost of meals between people can be complicated.

To make cost-splitting easier and to reduce the “mental fatigue” of choosing meals, the house switched to a meal box subscription to streamline costs and planning.

“We each agreed on the price and cost level,” she said. “That night we each set up the direct [payment] to my card. It was easy as it was all automated.”

All 4 housemates then got to choose a meal they wanted each week, and take it in turns to cook based on whoever got home first.

“Mental load and meal sharing was much much easier,” Alexis explained.

If you’re living with housemates, a meal box delivery could be the answer to your cost-splitting and meal-prepping woes!