Simple ways to make every dollar count

There are dozens of simple ways to make every dollar count.

Stop your money slip slidin’ away

Every week, my front-yard flower beds are bombarded with rolled-up newspapers I never read. About a year ago, I decided to pay for a subscription, believing it would keep me at the forefront of news events. The truth is, I don’t rip the plastic wrapping off these newsprint missiles very often.

I’m wasting $89 a month. I can read all of this newspaper’s content online, and I mostly do. My decision to have the actual newspaper delivered every morning was taken during a nostalgic lapse that has become a waste of money.

I must cancel this subscription because it is money slipping through my fingers that I cannot afford.

Here are other ways to maximise the power of your dollar.

Each time you make a purchase at a supermarket or any other of the many retailers that print coupons on the back of their receipts, you are being offered freebies or at least discounts on future purchases.

Don’t refuse receipts. Grab them with both hands and check out the money-saving offers on the back. There will be something for everyone.

Promotional codes and coupons
Many retailers and service providers publish codes that you can use to get a discount when you buy online. If you do not look up these codes before going shopping, you are letting go of opportunities to keep money in your wallet or purse. You are online already, so just tap a couple of keys to take you to the coupon page before you click ‘buy now’. The Thrifty Issue has a comprehensive list of websites listing coupons and promotional codes.

Shopping bags
This time next year, the major supermarkets aim to axe free plastic shopping bags. Grocers such as Aldi and retailers such as Officeworks currently charge if you want a shopping bag to carry away your purchases. Soon, many more retailers will begin charging shoppers for bags.

It may seem like 25 cents per shopping bag is a convenience worth paying for, but if you add up those 25 cents up over a year it could be costing you enough money to pay for some of the basics you can’t afford to skimp on. Take your own bags when you go shopping and before long you will find the savings add up.

Expired food
Sometimes we forget to check the contents of our refrigerators, pantries and cleaning cupboards before we go to the supermarket. We return home to put our purchases away only to realise we already had the item we just bought. Before going shopping for a packet of flour or other items with long use-by dates, check your pantry and fridge in case you already have the product.

Failing to do a stocktake of what is in your cupboards or fridge on a weekly basis puts you at risk of allowing previous purchases to go past their use-by dates. This is wasteful and is costing you money you don’t need to spend.

Gift cards and vouchers
If you have been lucky enough to score a gift card or voucher, make sure you stick it on your fridge or some other place where you will be constantly reminded that you have a purchase to redeem.

Too often we forget where we put these ‘gifts’ and when we finally come across them, more often than not, they’ve expired. Avoid this by sticking them somewhere prominent that will prompt you to redeem them in a timely manner, or carry them around in your purse or wallet so they are at hand when you need them. Not redeeming them in time wastes other people’s money and is a sign that you don’t respect what they have spent on you.

Direct debits
Set up direct debits to pay your bills on time. Too many utilities charge late fees that can add up to more than $100 a year if you are late with a payment. Imagine what you could enjoy with an extra $100 or more a year by setting and forgetting automatic bill payments to avoid late charges.

Insurance premiums
Keep on top of all of your insurance policies. If you are past child-bearing age, make sure your health insurance is not factoring in obstetrics, because that benefit is probably pumping up the premium you pay.

Check out your car insurance to ensure you are not paying a premium to have younger family members covered if they have already flown the coop.

What does your home and content insurance look like? If you live in a scaled down household, chances are you no longer need to pay extra for tech equipment your kids took with them when they moved out.

Perhaps you have sold your caravan or other valuable possession, which means you no longer have to pay the loading on the original insurance premium you bought when you had more valuables around than you have now.

Shop around on comparison websites for a better deal to suit your current situation and save potentially hundreds of dollars on home and content insurance.

What bad habits have you had that allowed money to slip through your fingers? Do you have any other tips to help you stash the cash?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    15th Dec 2017
    Re: Utilities - get into the habit of paying your bills when you get paid - then you won't have to worry about them when they're due. Never get the company direct debit your account, as most of us get paid either weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and the bill could be due at the wrong time for the debit to go thru.

    ALWAYS ask your energy company for any possible discounts for paying on time. I receive a basic 3% and an extra 29% on top. This means that if I had $500 worth of usage on a bill, then I'd only have to pay $340, which is a massive saving of $160 for a pensioner and better than any interest the bank would ever give you :)
    15th Dec 2017
    Ah, but the sodding power companies bost the price before the discounts apply.
    16th Dec 2017
    I have everything direct debited as it is so much easier than worrying about if I have paid a bill or not.

    29% of what? Seen one recently that had 29% off but their prices were 30% above others.

    15th Dec 2017
    Those discounts at the back of your receipts is usually for junk you don’t need

    I have a great way of saving - I walk to the shops to do my groceries - which means I don’t buy more than I can carry , save on petrol and keep fit
    15th Dec 2017
    I find a few items at the back of receipts that are worthwhile. Here
    we have a coupon for the last 2 months to get the weekend papers for $1.50, incl. The Australian. This week I got $10 for buying $100 worth of groceries during a fortnight. Not bad, and I only buy what I need anyway.
    15th Dec 2017
    "The Australian" is just a Right-wing propaganda rag - not worth the paper it's printed on.
    16th Dec 2017
    Never find anything on them myself.

    Groupon sometimes has some good deals.
    15th Dec 2017
    Gift cards cost you money. I had to pay postage on top of the gift card so it meant I was out of pocket. Shops that don't stock anything you want or if they do you inevitably the shop is so expensive you have to pay more than the value of the gift card or you want to get the full $50 worth so you over spend. Bad for the gift giver and receiver.
    Direct debit - user beware. If they make a mistake and over charge you have Buckleys of getting it returned especially with power, water and telco bills. They are also a hassle to cancel and you need to remember when the card expires who is being directed debited and from which card.
    Insurance - sure. My insurance company increases the cover by 10% each year. I went online to drop the cover an they would only let me reduce it back to last years cover on the phone again!
    Newspapers - oldies love them. I cancelled them years ago when the reporting got so bad I figured I would save the world some paper and plastic wrapping. Truth be told I got tired of the delivery man waking me up at 5 in the morning as he stop started his car along his journey.
    Dockets sure - but add the petrol and time to get to the desired store and be prepared for it to be sold out yesterday. I know lots of people who have their house stacked to the gunnels with non perishables. - Nothing is getting cheaper.
    My tip - don't buy water in plastic bottles- unless you need some plastic bottles.
    16th Dec 2017
    Gift cards are great for shops as about 50% never get redeemed. Great little earner for them.

    Direct debit is best think since sliced bread. You have enough time to cancel it if it is wrong so no problem there. It takes the worry out of remembering to pay bills.

    Just buy what you need when you need it.

    Don't play the silly season game of present giving as that is the biggest waste of money of them all.

    Sure use cattledogs for inspiration for something different but remember their aim is to get you to spend more.
    15th Dec 2017
    I stopped buying papers years ago. The mindless drivel that passes for news these days. Insurances require regular review or you will end up paying the laziness tax.
    15th Dec 2017
    Shopper dockets, yes if you want 3 rooms cleaned at a cost of 2 rooms, yes well I wouldnt use them anyway, and in the last 10 years I have not seen one shopper docket with anything worth spending money on. As for cutting out plastic shopping bags, its a rip off. I use the plastic bags for my bin tidy, and when they stop giving them away, they will expect you to buy the plastic garbage bags, so its a rip off.
    15th Dec 2017
    Stopped buying bin liners when the normal shopping bags were produced without holes at the bottom, now I will have to buy liners again. Mike - you are absolutely on the money about the whole exercise being a rip-off.
    17th Dec 2017
    The idea was to stop single use plastic bags that are not biodegradable, there are many bin liners that can be bought very cheaply that are biodegradable, but also ask your local council. Try washing the bin out instead. Plastics are filling up the ocean and landfill at an enormous damaging rate, we have to do all we can.
    15th Dec 2017
    Read newspapers online. Local rag has gone digital. Just stewed a whole heap of apricots and put in the freezer. Did a cupboard check and found items that I do need to buy for Christmas.As for utilities I get the bank to debit a certain amount out so there is not so much owing. Sometimes end up in credit for the next bill. I use cloth bags and still use plastic bags rather than buy. In Sa you pay for any type of bags depending on the make.
    15th Dec 2017
    Review your Health Insurance. Do you really need extras. Review your phone and internet plans. Ask electricity suppliers for discounts. Have a look at all direct payments: gym membership, subscriptions, charities, Foxtel etc and make sure you still need and want them. Good discounts on wine with the Woolworths shopper dockets. So many sales, you should never pay full price for clothes, or sheets and towels. Use the reward cards given by coffee shops, movie theatres, clubs
    15th Dec 2017
    I used to have a problem in that I like to dress well, but don't have a lot of money. Yet, I now have in my wardrobe long trousers by BOSS and Dockers (the latter a US up-market brand retailing for $200), plus shorts by Hurley and Country Road etc - all genuine up-market brands, and ALL bought for less than $10 each in as-new condition. Available, ladies and gents, fairly readily at your friendly local Vinnies, Lifeline or Red Cross store. Simple.

    15th Dec 2017
    Insurance is a rip off. Jettison it altogether.
    18th Dec 2017
    Yep, and then demand the local council pay when your house is flooded, so the ratepayers who paid high insurance premiums and made honest claims have to then subsidize all the bludgers who didn't insure.
    15th Dec 2017
    agree with most here. Dont do direct debits, check every bill that comes in and see if a lower cost alt is available plus check it is correct etc, direct debits are too likely to be set and forget
    16th Dec 2017
    Direct debits are awesome and use them where ever they are available.
    15th Dec 2017
    for the average person the industry super funds have the best growth !! Leave the union issue out of it as that is a side issue
    16th Dec 2017
    Dont be conned by the advertisements and fill up the home with junk; become a hoarder like seen on TV. Countries like China etc are the main beneficiaries of these buying sprees. Also interesting to note that its only the poor that are kind to the environment.
    17th Dec 2017
    I agree too much junk from China is making them so rich they are buying up property all over the world. The poor are kind to the environment because they have to recycle, reuse and re-purpose things, no wasting, and not buying things that are not food, clothing or shelter.
    17th Dec 2017
    I save money by buying in dry food in bulk when free shipping options are available. Sign up to your favourite online stores for offers, discounts and free shipping days. Also grow some herbs and greens, I save heaps every week by doing this, even making my own herbal tea from lemon verbena and mint plants, just like people used to do before teabags were invented.
    ex PS
    18th Dec 2017
    I just let my spouse do all the shopping, she has the patience to check every price and weight of every item she buys every time she shops, she must save us hundreds of dollars a year. She just has a different mentality to me, for example in the Deli, I buy by the 500 grams or the kilo, my spouse buys by the slice, our Westi is losing weight as he never gets leftovers and we never throw any thing out.
    The old saying is true, look after the cents and the dollars will look after themselves. Plus we were both bought up to distinguish between what is wanted and what is required.

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