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Save money without the sacrifice with these 5 cost-cutting swaps

These ‘high-impact, low-sacrifice’ savings mean you can cut back without cutting out.

Composite image of women laughing at a cafe, and Australian money.
Save money by swapping your brunch order for a coffee and a pastry. (Source: Getty) (Getty)

As the cost of living climbs, we’re all looking for new ways to save money and reduce the financial pressure on our household budgets. But, with the stresses of daily life, the chill of winter and the doomful news cycle, cutting all joy out of our lives doesn’t seem fair.

So, instead of cutting the fun stuff out altogether, try opting for lifestyle swaps that give you a similar experience without the price tag. I call these “high-impact, low-sacrifice” savings, that maximise the financial benefit while minimising the lifestyle sacrifice. Sounds like the best kind, right?

Also by Emma Edwards:

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Here are five low-sacrifice swaps to help you reduce your outgoings.

1. Swap out your brunch order

Catching up with friends and family over brunch is a staple in many social calendars but, with the cost of a meal and a coffee soaring upward of $30, it might be under threat at your next budget cull. Instead of canning the catch-up altogether, try swapping the brunch meal for coffee and a pastry, or a simple bacon and egg roll. Coming in at under $15, you’ll halve the cost of the experience without compromising on quality time with loved ones.

2. Swap the wineries for DIY tastings

Frequenting your state’s wine regions and cosying up with a glass of pinot by the fire makes for an undeniably great winter weekend. But if the cost of transport, tastings and pricey cheeses isn’t fitting into your budget right now, create the experience at home.

Gather your crew and ask each person to bring a bottle of wine with the label covered. Run your own tasting with the anonymous bottles and try to guess the wine and tasting notes without peeking. Add on a DIY cheese board with affordable supplies from your local supermarket and that’s your Sunday winter arvo sorted.

3. Swap dinner for dessert

Out for dinner and drinks? In this economy? If you’ve culled your dining-out budget in favour of paying bills, you’re not alone. But you don’t have to miss out on the experience. Instead of ditching dining out completely, eat dinner at home and follow up with a trip out for dessert. Hit up your local gelato shop or smash a pancake stack with a hot chocolate. You’ll spend a lot less, but still enjoy a little treat. If dessert isn’t your thing, nip to your local wine bar for a nightcap.

Hot tip: if you’re still dead set on eating dinner out, BYO restaurants can shave heaps off of your final bill, offering a cheaper way to experience dining out.

4. Swap trivia night for potluck and DIY

Trivia at the local pub is a great midweek night out but, by the time you’ve put away a few drinks and ordered a schnitzel and chips, the cost can add up. The simple swap would be to eat at home first, but it’s hard to stick to after a long day at work.

Instead, have your mates over, ask each person to prepare a round of trivia questions and each have a turn at playing host. Double down with a potluck dinner - where each person brings a dish - and you’ve got a wholesome midweek social event that doesn’t break the bank.

5. Swap swanky restaurants with a DIY meal kit

Hankering for the flavours of some of Australia’s best-loved chefs but don’t fancy the price tag? You can cook meals from your favourite restaurants at home.

Meal kits from Make Out Meals allow you to cook dishes from popular restaurants at home for a fraction of the cost. You could be enjoying Entrecote’s steak frites for two for $100, or Maccheroni’s prawn linguine and burrata salad for $75.

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