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7 instant money-saving ideas for when finances are tight

The cost-of-living crisis means many Aussies are penny pinching where they can.

Compilation image of a pile of money and Nicole in a red top
Earning and saving money are top priorities amid the cost-of-living crisis. (Source: Getty/supplied) (Samantha Menzies)

Money is tight, budgets are stretched and people are stressed. Everyone, everywhere is desperately seeking to save money. So, here are seven big-impact ideas – ones you may not yet have considered – to slash your costs.

1. Drop to one car

What’s your transport situation? We all like the convenience, and if you need two vehicles for two people to be able to work, that’s a non-negotiable. But if one of you is now working a lot from home, then you should think about the options for, and possible savings from, sharing and becoming a one-car family. It means one less vehicle, one less registration, less insurance, lower upkeep costs, and a lot less fuel.

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Also by Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

One car does my family and me fine, and I know of others who make do with the same. One such savings-focused family even has three children. It’s just a matter of tight scheduling and maybe a little waiting around.

2. Take in a boarder

Australia is suffering from a housing-supply crisis, with the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation anticipating a shortfall of 106,000 dwellings by 2027. This supply-shortage issue has also contributed to the 11.8 per cent rent increase over the past year.

So, if you’re struggling with repayments, or rent a property with empty rooms, you can think about taking someone in to help. Flatmates.au, flatmatefinders.com.au and roommates.com.au are some ‘matchmaking’ services that help to pair up those with extra space with people who need somewhere to live.

Taking a boarder could be a huge help in redressing your higher housing costs.

3. Barter for cheaper rent

Low supply, high demand and multiple interest rate hikes mean landlords are raising rents in order to recoup costs. But there might be an opportunity here for anyone willing to put in the work. Think about what might save your landlord time and money and/or value-add to their property.

For example, doing the gardens is a good starting place. You could also offer maintenance or home improvements. Any skills you could deploy could dramatically cut the price of the property in which you live.

4. Get shopping smart

Start shopping smarter and look at how much you could save by spending your money at discount and bulk supermarkets rather than the majors. Markets are also a great place to shop, but bypass the fancy ones where you pay a premium, and seek out those instead that are direct from the land to you - where farmers sell their fresh, healthy produce for far less.

These markets also make a bonus fun, free trip for the family on the weekend.

5. Slash your utilities

The other extreme expense in your life is probably your utilities and, in the colder months, your consumption is key. Instead of reaching for the reverse-cycle air-conditioning remote, you can curb the cold by warming up in some more cost-effective ways.

Hot water bottles, blankets and opening your blinds, windows and doors to the sun is an effective money-saving alternative.

6. Make food savings like it’s the ‘70s

There is a simple savings solution here: get ‘old school’. We have all become more elaborate and expensive in our tastes but it’s possibly no longer sensible or sustainable. Instead, think tuna pasta bakes, bolognese for days and salads in jars.

That high-protein, low-carb combo that’s been in favour may not be the right fit for your finances right now.

7. Get fit finances

We live in a beautiful country with mostly fantastic weather. So, could you substitute your gym membership for outside exercise such as running, riding, walking or hiking?

Gym membership may take up a fair chunk of your disposable income and you can always restart it when money isn’t so tight.

A final motivating word

Hopefully, this will be but a temporary budgetary squeeze. The chances of more rate rises are getting lower and, eventually, they will go down again. At some stage, too, you will get a pay rise, meaning the purse-string pressure will ultimately ease.

But right now, it might be time to take some emergency, make-it-work action. The restaurants and bars and sweet, expensive social stuff may well already be gone. Looking around, it seems as though a lot of us have already cut out that discretionary spending, for now. But what else could you do to stop a short-term problem becoming a long-term disaster?

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

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