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Top Tips for Making Cost Cutting Easy

Contributor:
Nicola Graham
Nicola Graham

Six weeks ago I embarked on a budget plan to slash my $6000 debt as soon as possible. A budget is a great start to getting rid of debt or to begin saving, however sticking to it can be challenging. Along the way there are those unexpected expensive trips to the dentist or doctor, or invitations out when you’ve already spent all your “sanity” money. Piggy Bank

At the befinning of my quest I worked out I should be able to pay $160 each pay day towards my debts.   However, my budget has proved to be a bit unrealistic. For example I had budgeted $120 for our power bill but it was a massive $170 – so much more than I had ever expected.  As it turns out, I’ve been able to pay about $110 per pay day off, which is still pretty good and much better than if I had not started a budget.

Making a conscious effort to spend less and save where possible has taught me some important lessons. Here are the three rules I’ve made to help make saving money easy (ier).

1. Keeping Track.

At the start of a budget it’s hard work, and you can quite easily spend unconsciously. I was going through my wallet cleaning out my receipts when I realised how much money I had spent without even realising it. I thought I’d maybe spent $5 per week (?) on incidentals such a takeaway coffee or a chocolate bar, but in reality it’s more like $22 a week, when I added up that chewing gum, two coffees when out with friends, a sandwich when I forgot my lunch and a chocolate bar. It doesn't take long to really add up.

After this revelation I decided to keep all my receipts and note all my spending in a little notebook so I can track of it. It’s like a diet – writing down what you eat makes you more conscious and accountable. After doing this for a week or two, you find you automatically think before buying. I found this really helps keep me in check. If I find myself slipping, I resort back to the recording method and it keeps me on track.

2. Shop… Without cards

Ever had the sudden urge that you really need to go spend some money? I think everyone gets this every now and then – for me it’s probably every couple of weeks where I think I really deserve something. This can be particularly dangerous for those on a budget.

The best way to avoid overspending is to leave your cards at home. Especially credit cards – spending what you don’t have is even worse than spending what you do have. If you leave it a day, chances are the item you thought you really really wanted isn’t so desirable and you’ll be glad you didn’t get it.

3. Don’t spend when you don’t want to

Do you ever get invites to go out, where you don’t really want to go, but feel obliged? I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve been invited out for drinks at the pub or a meal out when all I’ve wanted was to have a quiet night at home and not spend any money. But I’d feel obliged to go, so end up spending money I didn’t have.

I’ve realised I can make the choice that I feel most comfortable with and NOT feel guilty - you need to look after yourself sometimes too! So next time you don’t want to go out, say no and feel free to stay at home! You won’t have to spend money you didn’t want to and you won’t blow the budget!

How to save money and live more frugally

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