I now work full time on my own business. I've said goodbye to my full time wage which means we've really had to tighten the purse strings here at home week to week. When I was working, we had more than enough to make ends meet. So much so that we didn't need to worry about treating ourselves and discretionary spending. We still have multiple sources of income (Reece works 3 casual jobs for starters); but trying to raise capital for a start up business, pay off our home and save money for the in-betweens such as all of our adoption training leaves less room for the types of luxuries and discretionary spending we'd become accustomed to whilst I was a government employee.
I wont go into the finer details of our budget and how it works - but in our newly necessitated thriftiness, I've come across some genuinely useful ways to save money that I wanted to share. They've helped us cut away extra costs here and there and stash away little extras when we can. I am by no means a savings expert, but I figure if these hacks were helpful to me, they may be to someone else as well.
1. Shop at Aldi & Local Markets for your weekly groceries
Savings: $80 per month
On Sunday I go to the Fremantle produce markets where I can get a weeks worth of fresh fruit, vegetables, dried beans, fresh eggs and sometimes meat for two people for $25 or under. Sure, it takes a little extra effort to get the cash out and brave the crowds - but the savings are well worth it! I'm able to buy things like black beans, rice etc in the quantities we need - so there is less waste and it keeps the cost down.
Anything that I can't get at a produce market, I get from Aldi. They are all over Perth and it is worth finding out where your closest store is. Most of the products stocked at Aldi are Australian made and are manufactured in the exact same plants as the crap you buy at Woolies or Coles; so any snobbery is misplaced. In fact, I've found some Aldi products to be superior. I'd take their $2.65 rum and raisin chocolate blocks over lindtt any day! What would cost $100 at Woolworths costs me around $65 at Aldi.
We've also had to get real about things like super thick toilet paper, The $4 bulk pack does the exact same job, and I hate to break it to you; but your ass does not show signs of intelligent life. It wont know the difference.
2. Get into Alchemy
Savings: $15 per month
it is so unbelievably simple and cheap to make your own household cleaners. I've got a recipe for a general all purpose surface cleaner here on the blog. You can also make your own damp-rid, toothpaste & laundry detergent. I am a clean freak, and I am more than happy with the results yielded by my DIY products (although the toilet still gets the bleach treatment). Iv'e also started a 'rag bag' where any of my old clothes that I cant donate are torn up and re-purposed as cleaning rags.
I find it is these kinds of things always blow out a grocery budget because they run out when you're not expecting the expense of replacing them, and they add up! Having the supplies at hand to make your own saves time and money.
3. Sign up for Market Survey Sites
Savings: $10 per month
This one may not be for everybody; however the reality is that most of us spend an inordinate amount of time every day and night looking at our phones. If you're going to be a tuned out zombie, you may as well get paid for it, right?
Last month I downloaded the Pureprofile app. Its simple to use, and allows me to complete quick market surveys for anywhere between 10 cents to $3 per survey. I've been able to earn as much as an extra $5 per day in my down time when I'd otherwise be mindlessly scrolling Facebook. It doesn't seem like much - but it adds up and for a very small outlay of time. It adds an extra $10+ to our budget every month. Sometimes more.
We generally funnel this extra $10 into an account that covers birthday and Christmas gifts for our friends and family - and since there is a birthday (or several) every month, its a great system!
4. Student Hairdressers
Savings: $20 per month
My hair upkeep ain't cheap. As I get older, my roots get more ominous and covering the greys that are creeping in is beyond my capability and those of the at-home box dye (which is terrible for your hair, anyway). I was reluctantly prepared to part with the idea that I may just have to give up my beloved red hair to nature until I discovered the training salon at The WA Academy.
What would usually cost $85 - $100+ now costs me $35. A student hairdresser (who is supervised by a senior hairdresser) will do my colour (roots and all) and give a blow out for $55. If I'm feeling particularly tight, I'll skip the blow out but still walk away with professional grade colour for $35! Its a great solution if your hair upkeep is a simple job. They also do trims and other beauty treatments on the cheap.
BONUS: Go Green
I plan on doing an entirely seperate post on this in the near future, but we've noticed that our recent efforts to reduce our household waste have also helped out bottom line. Things we have switched that are helping us save in the long run include:
- Disposable razors to stainless steel safety razors.
- Mouthwash to Tongue scrapers.
- Face wash to Microfibre cleansing clothes
- Disposable pads/tampons to washable pads & period panties (like omg, ew? Get over it!).
- Sandwich bags/cling film to re-usable zip bags
- Body wash & Hand Soap to liquid castille soap
Other adjustments we've made to our own person budget include:
- Ordering my contact lenses online via OzContacts (1/2 the price of OPSM)
- Buying generic brand prescription medications
- Cancelling gym memberships and using free fitness apps to workout together
- Ordering vitamins and supplements online via iHerb rather than in stores (usually cheaper)
- Buying the big ticket stuff for little birds nursery second hand from gumtree, and bartering!
- Using our RAC insurance card discounts where applicable (movies, fuel)