by Crown Financial Ministries
File all bills & receipts
Keep bills in a set place, and process them before the due date. The interest on overdue bills can run into the hundreds every year. A good filing system of receipts also makes claiming deductions at tax time a lot easier, and none will be missed.
Review a fixed cost every month
Spend a few hours every month online and on the phone to check one bill. Shop around for the best interest rate on your bank loans and accounts. See if your insurance, car mechanic, mobile phone, PAY TV and internet charges are the most competitive. By the end of the year you will have done at least 12 bill reviews. One site to start researching is RateCity.com.au.
Control variable costs with a budget
Know exactly how much you spend and where your everyday income is going. Get some help at www.understandingmoney.gov.au.
Use cash & strict shopping lists
Save time and money by buying only what you need. It only takes 10 minutes to prepare.
Check your cupboards, check clothes you already have. Using cash only will force you to prioritise your purchases.
Buy from discount outlets
Other bargains can be found at op shops, local craft markets and fetes and farmer's markets. SOCExchange.com.au (a local retailer exchange and auction site) can point you to the nearest farmer's market.
Buy gifts during sales
Plan all birthdays and gift occasions on your calender and buy at bargain time rather than at the last minute.
Check community based playgroups at www.playgroupaustralia.com.au. Loan books, toys and family movies from your local library. Go walking or on a picnic as a family. Cheap or free family activities may also be listed on your local council website.
Find substitute natural cleaners
Cheap natural detergent mix can be made from ½ cup borax (or bi-carb soda to make it garden safe), 1 cup washing soda (i.e sodium carbonate) and a bar of laundry soap (grated finely). These are all found on the cleaning aisle at a supermarket and you only need 3tsp for a top loader washing machine or 1tsp for a front loader. Add one small box of bi-carb soda to the mix if your clothes are always very soiled. Instructions can be found by searching YouTube for "Cheapskates Washing Powder". (http://youtu.be/jUbyXo8Z1dA).
White vinegar and bicarb soda are also valuable natural cleaning products.
Cook & freeze in bulk
Make soups, bolognese sauce, curries and casseroles, etc. in a large pot. Freeze whatever is left over.
Self-wash your car
Use a microfibre towel and a bucket of water with a small cap-full of car wash liquid (or even shampoo if you can't afford car wash). Automatic car washes that use sponges and brushes leave swirls and scratches, even on cars with a good clear coat. If they use a touchless laser method then you may be left without a proper clean.
Start a herb garden
Using your own fresh herbs saves $2-3 on every meal that you use them. That adds up quickly.