Four simple tips to keep your living costs down

Four simple tips to keep your living costs down

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No matter what your financial situation is, you can benefit by looking at ways to reduce the cost of your daily living expenses. Here are four easy-to-kick-off tips you can start putting into action from today to keep your living costs down.

1. Shop around online

One of the largest costs facing retail stores is commercial real estate ̶  including the cost of having a shop front in a convenient location as well as space for offices, storage and parking spaces for staff and customers. Naturally, the retailer needs to pass on these costs to the consumer.

By shopping around on the internet, not only can you compare prices from the comfort of your home or office, the online retailer can afford to be more competitive in price than their shopping strip or shopping centre competitor.

If you enter in the words ‘compare prices for [product/service]’ on any internet search engine, you’ll come across websites that will do the comparison price research for you at no cost to you.

Services such as cash savings accounts can be sourced online. Online savings accounts more often than not offer a higher cash interest rate than a bricks and mortar bank. Keep the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Online Shoppers Checklist handy whenever you start exploring buying something online.

2. Power in numbers

Buying products in bulk yourself, or better still, getting a group of friends and colleagues together to be able to negotiate a good price on a product or service by buying in bulk is a great way to keep prices down. If you live in a community setting, such as a retirement village, you potentially have a significant number of potential buyers of products or services with which to negotiate a ‘bulk buy’ deal with a supplier.

A good example of this may be planning a trip to a bulk retailer where basic, everyday non-perishable grocery items such as toilet paper, tissues, cleaning products or even batteries could be bought in bulk and the costs split amongst the group. This does require some organisation and coordination but is well worth the investment of time and effort in achieving mutual cost savings.

A more formal way of organising this may be to form a cooperative or ‘co-op’. In transitioning from busy lifestyles, many retirees may welcome the opportunity to take on a proactive role in sharing the running of a co-op.  Business Victoria’s website provides information in their ‘How to Start a Business’ section on how to formally establish a co-operative. A formal set up is a sensible way to protect everyone’s rights and clarify roles and responsibilities to make it work effectively.

Online, there are a number of group buying websites that offer special deals on products and services as part of marketing business offerings. Just enter the words ‘group buying sites’ and you’ll find a number of options, if you prefer to buy locally in Australia, just add the words ‘in Australia’.  Before buying goods and services online make sure you are familiar with how to manage any risk. The consumers section of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website dedicates a whole section on staying safe when shopping online. Keep their Online Shoppers Checklist handy whenever you start exploring buying something online.

3. Fresh is always best – buy seasonally

When planning your weekly meal plan, always consider what fruit and vegetables are in season before you start shopping. If you commit to only buying seasonal produce, you’ll not only benefit from fresher, better quality, better tasting, more nutritious dishes, but you’ll also pay a lot less. Just take a look at the cost of a vegetable such as Australian garlic out of season, as compared to late summer/early autumn when it is in season. The price differential can be substantial!

There are plenty of ‘farm gate’ produce suppliers that will package up a weekly or fortnightly seasonal box and deliver to your door for a great price. Invest in a cookbook that enables you to search for recipes based on ingredients, or do a search for recipes on the internet and you’ll be surprised how easy and enjoyable it can be to cook seasonally and save money.

4. Save energy, save money and save the environment

There are many newspaper, magazine and online articles and resources about how to reduce your energy use, minimise your footprint on the environment and save money. Simple habits such as turning off light switches as soon as you walk out of a room, turning off power at the switch not just the appliance and using other modes of transport other than your car where possible are a few examples of where you can start to reduce the cost of your energy use.

Victoria’s Save Energy website is a great resource for tips on what you can do to reduce your energy use.

Try any one or all four of the above and look at what you can save. Then spread the word. Inspiring friends and family with stories of how you’ve managed to reduce your cost of living always makes for great barbeque conversation!

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