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& My money

The cost of living: Ways to save

Two people baking in a home kitchen. One of them has Down Syndrome

There’s no escaping it. The cost of living just keeps rising thanks to inflation caused by global supply chain issues, COVID-19 and climate change. And as costs rise, more and more households are tightening their budgets to ensure that they can afford to buy food and pay their bills.

To help you cut living costs, we’ve put together some tips for where you can save some extra money. If you’ve already broken these bad money habits, you may find these extra ideas helpful.

Get smart with energy use

Autumn has arrived and cooler days and nights are coming. Use the cooler weather as the opportunity to turn off fans and air-con, especially at night. Open a window instead and let the cooler air in. If you need the sound of a fan to get to sleep at night, try using a white-noise app on your phone to help you drift off instead.

Check what appliances or devices you have plugged in around your home and unplug them when they’re not in use. Did you know that your microwave could be costing you more than $6.00 a year just sitting on your benchtop, and your washing machine could be costing you even more? Although these costs seem relatively small, every little saving adds up. You can learn more about standby energy costs on the Choice website.

Thinking of washing machines, do you have a clothes dryer? If so, it’s time to start air-drying your clothes (either outside or in) and save more on electricity costs. If air-drying isn’t an option for you due to lack of space, there are things you can do to reduce energy use.  Firstly, make sure you don’t overload your dryer. Overfilling will mean it takes longer to get everything dry and make the machine work harder. Secondly, invest in some ‘dryer balls’. These cheap, heat-resistant balls will help you save on energy by preventing your laundry from clumping together. They tumble between your clothes allowing the warm air to circulate better which reduces drying time. They can also help fight wrinkles, so you'll have less need to plug the iron in!

Bank smarter

Are you paying out a monthly or annual fee for your everyday or savings account? A monthly account fee of $6 means that you’ll pay out $72 over twelve months – and that money would be better off in your bank account! You may also be paying a fee for your credit card so make sure it’s worth it. Are you getting something you can’t from a no/low-fee card? Are you making the most of reward offers that your fee may be subsidising?

If you are being charged a fee on your bank account, it’s time to switch to a fee-free option like our & Transaction account to save yourself some money.

Refinancing your home loan can also save you money. Whether you choose to put the extra money back into your budget or into a savings account, reducing the cost of your repayments could save you more than you think in the long term.

And, this tip is for anyone regularly using cash to pay for things: start a coin jar. You may be surprised at how quickly all your loose change adds up, and it will make a nice little addition to your savings!

Try smarter food shopping

The regular grocery shop has increased in price, and demand for food relief is sadly at record high levels according to Foodbank Australia. Despite soaring prices, there are still some things you can do to reduce your food spend.

Start using a grocery app to help you find the cheapest retailer and compare specials. Some apps will only compare Coles and Woolworths, but others include IGA and Aldi as well as other retailers like BWS and Amazon. It may mean you end up splitting your shop across multiple retailers, but if you can order online you’ll save time as well as money.

If you are shopping in-store, be sure to check for the discounted items in the fresh food sections to make your budget go further – and if any of your finds are very close to their expiration date, make use of your freezer to avoid having to eat them straight away. Just make sure you don’t leave them in the freezer for too long! 

In fact, it’s a good idea to make your freezer your friend. Frozen veggies are just as good nutritionally as fresh, and they cost less. It’s also usually cheaper to buy meat in bigger portions, so break down that big packet of mince into smaller portions and freeze them. You may find that batch cooking works for you instead. Cook up a lot of something, then split it down and freeze it. Not only will you thank yourself for not needing to cook during the week, but you may find you need to shop less often too.

Finally, shop in season. We’re now in Autumn so should find that foods like blackberries, brussels sprouts and zucchini are cheaper than they are other times of the year.

Supplement your smarts

So, you’ve reassessed your budget, cut back on unnecessary expenses and got smarter with your spending, but is there anything else you can do? Here’s a couple of suggestions for making money:

  1. Taking part in online surveys and get paid for your sharing thoughts and opinions.
  2. Use cashback reward programs when shopping online, and receive a percentage of your spend back into your bank account.
  3. Take your bottles and cans to your closest Containers for Change recycling point – you’ll receive a refund for every accepted container.
  4. Sell any items you want rid of instead of putting them out for the verge collection. What you think is trash could be someone else’s treasure!

 

If you are struggling financially, visit the National Debt Helpline website for helpful resources and to find a financial counsellor near you. Alternatively, visit our Financial Hardship Assistance page to find out the support P&N Bank may be able to offer.

 

Banking and credit products issued by Police & Nurses Limited (P&N Bank) ABN 69 087 651 876 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 240701.

Any advice does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Read the relevant Product Terms and Conditions, before acquiring any product in considering and deciding whether it is right for you. The Target Market Determination (TMD) for our products are available on request.

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