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By Julie Nipperess
There’s no doubt about it, 2020 has shaken us all up.
On the back of bushfires and droughts and then the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of Australians are on reduced incomes, or out of work and doing it pretty tough, and there’s absolutely no doubt that most of us (except maybe the super duper rich) are focused firmly on finances right now.
The economy is going to take time to recover, so the wise are still watching their spending.
And that means tightening the budget – at least for a few more months.
You know the famous entrepreneur Elon Musk? When he was a 17-year old student he challenged himself to spend just $1 a day on food.
By all accounts it wasn’t an entirely pleasant experience, but he survived to tell the tale.
And let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting that you try it. But the fact is that your weekly grocery shop is a regular expense where you might be able to make some significant savings if you want to.
As most of my clients know, I’m a big fan of Aldi.
It’s much cheaper than the other supermarkets, you just have to be disciplined enough to stick to buying only groceries and not a fishing rod and a couple of foldaway chairs as well!
But no matter where you shop, you can make your dollars stretch a bit further, without having to live on two-minute noodles and baked beans. Good nutrition is important and you don’t need to go hungry.
Here are some ideas.
You’ll never be able to spot a good deal if you don’t know what things are worth. So pay attention to prices when you shop, and then you’ll know when something really is cheaper than usual and you can buy in bulk. This can work well for things like shampoos and household cleaning items – things that don’t expire quickly.
But it also applies to grocery items too, and you can save on meat when it’s cheap and freeze it.
And … maybe just for a while it’s time to give up the artisan breads and other expensive items like activated nuts and organic chocolate.
We’ve all become so accustomed to having watermelon and mangoes in winter and avocados in the summer because globalisation has made it possible.
But you’ll find if you stick to the fruits and veggies that are actually in season locally, they’re cheaper.
Bunnings just about sold out of all veggie gardening supplies at the start of lockdown! And there’s good reason: If you can grow your own, you can save. Plus a lot of people had time on their hands and children to keep occupied!
But you know, you can grow herbs anywhere, including on the kitchen windowsill. Herbs provide low-calorie flavour to any meal, which means you can reduce the amount you spend on expensive dressings and sauces.
Get into planning meals and write your shopping list accordingly. Then stick to the list. Stir-fries, salads, omelettes, curries, slow cooked meats can all be made in bulk and then served up again later in the week.
If you can master meal planning, then you can really save and you have minimal waste. If you learn to bake, then you can also save on sweet treats.
If you’re budgeting, and sticking to your budget, then good on you!
While I’m not suggesting that we all turn into miserly ‘scrooges’ I do think it’s wise to keep a close eye on your finances for a while longer. And keep your eating out and take-aways to a minimum.
While the lockdowns are easing, and we’re being encouraged to support local businesses, the simple fact of the matter is that the economy is still on uncertain ground and your priority before anything else, is to make sure that your own finances are ok.
Economists are predicting that by the end of the year the picture will be much more stable, and certainly the investment markets are beginning to recover which is a good sign, but for now, my advice is proceed with caution. And if we can help you, contact us.
This is general advice and should not be treated as personal advice.
Julie Nipperess is an authorised representative of Step Up Financial Group Pty Ltd ASFL No: 512509.