If you can make your money go the distance, pay day can be a wonderful thing. However, if it means that 48 hours from now you’re likely to be scrounging for shrapnel wondering how you’re going to pay bills and eat for the next fortnight – you might want to rethink how you’re managing your cash.
The financial hangover from the clothes, taxi fares, eating out and luxury items you bought over the weekend might hit hardest on Monday, but the long-term effects could be even more damaging.
Research from comparison site RateCity1 shows 42% of Australians under the age of 24 have between $10,000 and $30,000 of personal debt, with 63% of Generation Y credit card holders unaware of the interest rate they’re paying even when the average rate is close to 17%.
So you can put an end to instant noodles for dinner five days a week, here’s a list of inexpensive ways to have fun.
Save on food and drinks
- Eat at home but make it an event. Invite friends over and take turns hosting dinner parties
- Go where the specials are. Find two-for-one and other deals via sites like TheHappiestHour
- Pack an esky and take your date to the park. You’ll save on food and get an A for effort
- Make your coffee, buy a reusable drink bottle and pack your own lunch
- Try the cheaper supermarkets or check out simple recipes. Jamie Oliver has a great range of cheap meal ideas.
Save on entertainment and exercise
- Have the troops over for a trivia or poker night, karaoke or a movie marathon
- Swap a visit to the day spa with a DIY manicure and candle-lit bubble bath
- Look for movie deals. Many cinemas do cheap Tuesdays, and your service providers may offer member discounts. You may even have a social club at work that has tickets at reduced rates
- Go to the beach, go fishing or check out local events and concerts
- Join a local sports team or head to the park for a friendly game
- Don’t pay for both the gym and yoga. Choose a provider that does it all.
Save on travel and short breaks
- Research available travel passes, reduce taxi rides and get a bus, train, cycle or car share
- A holiday in your own hood could open you up to possibilities you didn’t know existed or you could give camping or caravanning a go. The roasted marshmallows will be worth it
- Find cost-effective accommodation on Airbnb or if you’re heading out of town, list your place to earn money while you’re on holidays
- Swap an interstate flight with a road trip. There are lots of routes across Australia
- Know the travel hacks, like travelling out of season or using price comparison websites.
Save on fashion and footwear
- Plan and space out indulgent purchases. Shop during sales and don’t forget to use those gift cards that are close to expiring
- Organise a clothes swap with friends or do it online. You can refresh your wardrobe while clearing out those things you don’t want anymore
- Fix the items you own and expand with accessories—watches, bracelets, belts, and scarves.
Save on bills and basics
- Leave your debit and credit cards at home and take out an appropriate amount of cash
- Understand interest rates – it seems basic but most of us don’t do the maths. For example, 17% of $20,000 means you’ll fork out an additional $3,400 per year
- Make it an annual exercise to shop around for the best providers when it comes to utilities, credit cards and health care. Groups like Canstar can do the comparison work for you
- Check out bundling services. Using the same provider for phone and internet could save you.
It’s important to have a realistic plan when it comes to your money, so make sure your budget has a bit of room for movement.
Managing your money
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Check out these five hallmarks of a money-smart life.