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Money-saving tips from Jody Allen

IF THERE'S one thing we all can agree on, it's saving money. It's a bummer to see the bulk of our income going to household expenses, isn't it? We can change this by following these tips:

1. Re-evaluate your grocery list

If you don't have a grocery list, which means you just buy whatever you feel like buying at the store, please make one. This will keep you from getting stuff that you don't really need. And then you can re-evaluate your list. Go over it once, twice, even thrice. You can divide the list into, for example, two categories: must-have and can do without. What products in your grocery list do you absolutely need? What unnecessary and unhealthy products should you stop buying? Then you can also make another category: can DIY. Yes, you can make your own products.

2. Make your own products

Usually, the costs of making a product is less than buying a ready-made one. You also have better control of the ingredients that go into what your family is using and it can be fun.

3. Use bundled services

If your household is like any other household, there's a good chance that you're using a home phone, a number of mobile phones, and an internet connection. Instead of availing and paying for these services individually, look for providers that offer bundled services. You will not only save on money but also minimise transaction costs and time.

4. De-clutter and pay it forward

A common mistake a lot of us make is accumulating stuff that we don't even use or need. Having too much stuff prevents us from being able to distinguish the things we truly need from the things we're just keeping out of convenience. Having too much stuff also makes the house harder to clean. Make an inventory of all the things you own. Just like what you did to your grocery list. Divide these into categories: regularly used, sometimes used, rarely used. Items you haven't used in two months or more (including clothes), donate them to people who will.

5. Buy groceries in bulk

Buying things in bulk is one of the easiest yet most effective ways to minimise household expenses. I mean, it's a no-brainer.

6. Use water and electricity wisely

Take inventory of how you use your water and electricity. Do you use them only when needed or did you and your family get into the habit of wasting precious resources? Conserving water and electricity doesn't need to be complicated. You can begin by practising basic habits like turning off the tap and light bulbs when not in use. You can also adjust your thermostat to conserve power. Instead of using the bath tub, you can use the shower.

7. Try generic brands

Brand name products typically cost 25% more than generic products. Think of how much you will save if you keep buying the generic. There are a lot of brand name products that have exactly the same ingredients as their generic counterparts.

8. Set a budget and stick to it

Not having a budget causes people to buy and hoard unnecessary things, have buyer's remorse, and be buried in piles of debt. There are different styles of budgeting (the envelope style is a crowd favourite), but the things that you need to include in your budget plan remain roughly the same. Take inventory of all of your income and expenses. Expenses may include monthly bills, food and groceries, education, mortgages, car-related expenses, entertainment, and charity.

Jody Allen is the founder of Stay At Home Mum: http://www.stayathomemum.com.au



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