Life in modern times is incredibly busy compared to what is used to be even 100 years ago. Distractions from all walks of life are around every corner to lead us astray. Frugal living can be a tough enough task on its own, but with so many different people giving conflicting advice about how to live this way it’s often hard to know what’s really worth taking onboard and what’s not.
This huge influx of information can cause even the most switched on individuals amongst us to miss the smaller, often very effective money saving techniques which enable us to make significant savings. Carelessness, whether it’s done intentionally or subconsciously, is one of the biggest factors in causing our bank accounts to feel as if they're emptying themselves. Here are a some suggestions that I found particularly useful in helping improve my bottom line by learning how to live and spend more frugally.
Even the best grocery shoppers who know can instantly spot items that are either good value or heavily marked up can get caught out by spoilage. If you’re throwing away food then you are wasting money, period. A poorly organised pantry can mean new items get stuck behind old ones and expire. Storing bread in the fridge, cutting fruit when you need it and placing perishable items at the forefront of your fridge great ways to drastically reduce spoilage.
Generally retailers will put most items on sale at some point if you're patient enough. When you buy items on big annual sales, such as Black Friday, or visit outlet stores during rare promotions, it makes you think - why did you ever buy items at full price?
Check Your Bills
Checking bills should be done regularly. Get into the habit of monitoring receipts, bills and statements because we as humans are prone to make mistakes at some point. The process of quickly checking after a purchase could save you more, especially if you instead decide to come back or call up customer services later on. Another good example of how costly complacency in this area can be is to look at all the fines issued to banks by governments around the world in recent years for charging customers unnecessary fees. Make sure you don’t get caught out by this.
Avoiding Keeping Electronics on Standby
Still today there seems to be a common misconception that keeping electronics (TV's, DVD/Bluray players, entertainment systems) on standby does carry any significant cost when compared to turning them off entirely. But over the course of a year, it's surprising just how much having multiple devices on standby can end up costing you. Statistics show that standby lights amount for 5% of Australia’s entire energy consumption. In all honesty the only winner is the electricity company.
Food and health bills are expensive and numerous financial specialists around the world always recommend going generic, saying consumers will save between 80-85% if they do. Generic medicine has the same affects as branded medicine so to opt for a specific, well known brand often means all you're effectively doing is paying for that company’s marketing budget (and not getting any added medicinal value in return). This also applies with food products, so to put it bluntly - put your pocket before your ego.
I think there's a lot to be said for the famous quote: “Success in life is directly proportional to the number of awkward conversations you’re willing to have.” Make a point of negotiating a better deal or a lower rate at every opportunity possible. The worst thing that can happen is that someone will say no. Two good places to start are asking for a better rate at your bank or a more favourable phone tariff.
Make sure you hunt around for the best savings accounts. You may prefer having all your money within one bank for ease of monitoring it, but savings accounts are constantly changing and if you can get a better deal elsewhere, why shouldn’t your money be working its hardest to make you more?
Automating your payments not only saves you time but also can help you avoid late payment fees and charges. Don’t let next months payment slip through the net again by setting up automated payments to those recipients. If you also have a saving account it’s great to try and put a little in there every month with automatic sending of a predetermined amount.
Energy Efficient Bulbs
The industry has been banging on for years about replacing your incandescent light bulbs with more efficient fluorescent bulbs to save money on your monthly electricity bill. Yet, you need to make sure you do your research and speak to who you can at the store to understand which lights will and wont make too big a difference to your bill.
Whatsapp now allows people to make phone calls and media companies are now uploading television shows hours after they are televised. The future looks more towards needing a good Internet connection rather than spending additional money on cable TV to still enjoy all our favourite programmes.