Combat cost-of-living hikes and keep saving

Cost of living pressures coupled with rate rises have made it more difficult to save for a home deposit and afford the lifestyle you’ve either become accustomed to or are dreaming of.

Budget Direct’s Cost of Living Survey & Statistics 2023 found that despite the living cost index for employee households recording its largest quarterly rise in more than two decades (3.2%), half of all participants hadn’t seen a change in their income in the past 12 months.i

There’s not much control we have over these rising rates, however we can adjust our budgets and make some tweaks to our lifestyles to beat the cost of living.

Shop carefully and reduce food waste

While it seemed outrageous to pay up to $3 per banana following cyclone Yasi in 2011, Australians are having to fork out more at the supermarket check-out for everyday items including fresh produce.ii Given the high cost of food, it makes sense to reduce food waste to get the most value for your money – the last thing you want is your very pricey banana withering away at the bottom of your fruit bowl!

Simple acts such as batch cooking, freezing excess produce and using what you already have can cut down on food waste. There are also alternatives to supermarket shopping, such as visiting a market near closing time to grab some produce bargains. Buying in bulk can help you save money as well.

Shop around to reduce bills

While we can make savings on our bills by reducing our consumption, you can also look around for better deals. A 2023 report found that brand loyalty cost Australians $4.5 billion that year, with households in NSW and VIC more likely to be paying a loyalty tax for electricity.iii

That extra effort to find a better deal can save you money, and it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process thanks to comparison websites (such as Energy Made Easy and Finder). Look at your last couple of bills to see what you are usually charged to see how they compare.

Save money on entertainment and transport

You don’t have to give up on the fun things in life, but it’s worth seeing what savings can be made when it comes to entertainment and transport.

Regular restaurant dinners can be swapped for lunches (as these tend to be cheaper) or sharing hosting duties at home with friends. You might want to assess how many streaming services you are paying for and actually use, and if it’s been a while since you’ve entered a library, check out all their free resources such as books, audiobooks, movies, and magazines.

Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree are full of second-hand buys, and you can keep an eye out for discounted event tickets in your area. If you’re paying for a gym membership you’re not using, opt for free fitness instead, such as parkrun, a free 5km community run held each weekend across Australia.

With the cost of petrol being so high, it may be a smart idea to drive less often. Consider if you can carpool on some occasions or whether public transport would be cheaper. For short distances, you can combine your need for getting somewhere with getting fit by jumping on the bike, walking, or jogging.

Make a budget

A budget doesn’t have to be focused on restriction – in fact, by budgeting you can ensure you still have room for the things you enjoy. Start by keeping track of what you are spending and use a budget planner, entering your income and expenditure to see where there is room to save. This can help you identify what you can cut back on and where you can spend.

There’s no doubt that it is tough to get ahead at the moment, but some small changes can help you reach your financial goals.


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