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In my family, I’m known as the Queen of Frugal. My husband and I, although we don’t want for much, scrimp on everyday items so that when we want to make a large purchase, it’s no issue. We say we save in order to spend.
My sister asked me how I manage to scrimp so efficiently and it got me thinking. I didn’t even realise how frugal I was until it was pointed out to me. How exactly do I manage to hoard pennies for my family?
#1. Rewards Programs or cash back programs.
My wallet is choc-a-block full of various rewards cards for different retailers and supermarkets.
Note – if you don’t like hoarding heaps of cards in your wallet, you can store them digitally on your smartphone with the Stocard app. See http://stocardapp.com for more information. I haven’t used this personally but my mum swears by it.
If you don’t want to sign up for every rewards program there is, then pick a supermarket that offers the best rewards program for your family.
For me, this is both Coles’ flybuys and the Woolworths Rewards. Some months I’ll exclusively shop at one or the other, depending on the points offers that apply to my membership.
Do your research
Research whether a retailer will meet your needs. Would you shop with them outside of their rewards program?
Research what options are available for redeeming your points.
For example, the Coles Flybuys points can be redeemed in a variety of ways, in exchange for items, in exchange for e-vouchers for various retailers within the Coles Retail network. My favourite way to redeem Coles Flybuys points is to cash out for Kmart or Target vouchers where I can then shop for housewares or clothing for my family.
I recently picked up all the extra pieces my daughter needed for her winter wardrobe (that I couldn’t source through hand-me-downs) from Kmart, all paid for with $50 worth of redeemed Coles Flybuys points.
It’s really easy to redeem your Flybuys points from their app as well. See the screenshots below. Once you select your option, you just need to know your Flybuys PIN and the points will transfer to your card as Flybuys Dollars to spend (if you don’t redeem the points for an item from their Rewards Shop.
Both the Coles Flybuys rewards program and the Woolworths Rewards card offer to connect your membership to airline memberships, Virgin Australia and Qantas respectively, and you can transfer your points to redeem for travel. I’m currently looking at where I have enough points to score discounts on our next family trip to visit my husband’s parents.
I figure if I’m going to be doing my grocery shopping anyway, I may as well get something back for it.
If you’re interested in more than just a supermarket rewards card, ask your favourite stores if they have a loyalty card and what the rewards associated with it.
For example, if you’re mad about makeup, check out the rewards programs offered by Priceline (in Australia) Mecca Maxima and Sephora.
Cashback apps such as eBates get me excited.
They link through to other retails and if you shop at those retailers, you get a certain percentage of your purchase back. Retailers such as Ebay, Amazon, AliExpress offer cashback.
Before you make your online purchase for whatever you need, check to see if the retailer is connected to eBates. If they are, enjoy the benefits of cashback.
Another smaller cashback service I use is TopCashBack.
I compare the cashback rates for common retailers such as eBay or Amazon on TopCashBack with eBates to see who is offering a better cashback that day.
#2. Shop around for your perishable foods
There are several reasons I avoid buying my perishable foods from large chain supermarkets, not just for being the Queen of Frugal Living.
For starters, shopping at Farmers’ Markets or locally owned markets is an excellent way to support local farmers and their livelihood.
In Australia, farmers are paid a pittance from large supermarket corporations for their produce. And if the product doesn’t meet the supermarkets’ expectation for sale, they just throw the fresh produce out.
Fresh Produce, meat, and bread
Another great reason to shop around at markets for your fresh produce, at your local butcher for meat and at your local baker for bread is the assurance that you’re getting produce that is grown or farmed with more sustainable methods and not farmed with mass production as the main motivator so that a profit can be made.
While your fresh produce might be slightly more expensive, the quality of produce is much higher and is better for you and your family.
And to be completely honest, I haven’t noticed an increase in my grocery bill. I can feed our family of two adults, one hungry toddler, and two large dogs for $150 AUD per week. And that includes enough for lunches to take to work each day.
If you’re quite time-poor, as I am and don’t have time for two separate trips to get all the groceries you need, order all of your supermarkets produce online and have it delivered while you make one trip down to the market for your perishable groceries.
Meal plan before you do your shopping to maximise savings
I also find meal-planning helps with both reducing waste from unused produce and helps avoid spending too much on food.
Download my Meal Planning + Grocery Budget printable to help save your family time and money with the grocery shop.
Want to save time and money?
Download my FREE Meal Planner + Grocery Budget + Pantry Inventory printable to save money and time while creating healthy meals for your family.
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#3. Reduce your electricity consumption
In my state of Western Australia, electricity prices are predicted to rise 15% in the next two years.
While our average electricity bill is low compared to most households (we average about $250 AUD every 2 months), that extra 15% is better in my pocket
Turn off the lights
To reduce our electricity costs, we employ simple power-saving measures. We ensure that we turn all lights off in other rooms when we are not in them. Even if we are leaving that room with the intention to return in 5 minutes. My poor husband got the shock of his life when we moved in together. I was forever nagging him to turn lights off (thanks for teaching me well, Dad).
It seems like common sense but we utilise daylight wherever possible. In summer, lights are only on after sunset, unless ABSOLUTELY necessary.
We have also invested in light fittings that are compatible with LED globes. By swapping every light in our house with LED light bulbs, we have noticed a significant reduction in our power bill.
In December 2017, we bit the bullet and got solar panels installed. The initial outlay was $4500 (after the government rebate).
We chose a system that would sell unused energy back to the grid (for a pittance compared to what they charge you to use power!).
We also chose a solar system and inverter that would maximise our gains from the sun. We have 6.5kW of solar panels spread across our roof so that we can maximise the 5kW inverter we have, meaning as the sun moves across the sky, we remain peaked out at 5kW for longer during the day.
But is it worth it?
Well, our bills previously sat around $250 per two-month billing cycle.
We’ve had two power bills since we installed the solar panels and each bill has been about $50 due to the amount of power that we have sold back to the grid while at work and the power we have used during the day.
So we’ve already saved $400 in 4 months, based on our previous bills. The solar system will pay for itself in less than five years!
#4. Save and Reuse Your Greywater
Another way my family and I plan to save money and live frugally is to reduce our water consumption and reuse our grey water on our garden and vegetable patch.
We have been planning on a collection tank outside our laundry (which conveniently faces into our backyard) and have plumbed it so that all the grey water from our washing machine is collected and can be used in our garden.
With enough research, I have also started swapping all our laundry washing products for either homemade substitutes or eco-friendly alternatives so we can be sure that no harsh chemicals are damaging our vegetable patch or flowerbeds.
You’d be surprised at how much water you use for your washing, especially if you do an extra three loads a week of cloth nappies.
Our water bill will stay low, our garden will be green. I’d call this a win-win for my frugal living ways
#5. Secondhand Buy & Sell Pages for buying and selling.
I use Facebook buy and sell pages, as well as Gumtree to hunt for clothing for my daughter.
Children grow so fast and the waste that exists with clothing in today’s society is astronomical so by picking up secondhand children’s clothing, you’re not only helping your wallet, you’re helping the environment.
These sites can also be used to scout secondhand furniture if you’re looking to replace a piece.
I’ve also found these sites are FANTASTIC for finding plant cuttings. The local nursery charge astronomical prices for basic garden plants, yet some people on Buy and sell pages offer cuttings for a fraction of the price. Or even sometimes for free!
I’ve also used these pages to make a quick buck on clutter we had laying around the house.
Straight after our wedding (which was mostly DIY), I was able to quickly sell our table centerpieces for $160. I made my money back on these by flipping them as soon as I was done with them.
#6. Take leftovers for lunch
This is probably the biggest tip of frugal living that I can offer that will save you money.
Cook enough dinner for extra meals that you can pack lunch for work and heat up. I honestly cannot stress this enough.
Some people spend the equivalent of their weekly grocery bill in takeaway lunches if they purchase takeaway for lunch each day.
Let me break it down for you: On average, a takeaway meal and a drink is $15. If you did this every day at work, this is $75 per week.
If my husband and I both purchased takeaway lunches every day, that’s $150 per week spent on lunches. THAT’S OUR ENTIRE WEEKLY GROCERY BILL.
The savings speak for themselves!
I work with people that always complain about having no money but they buy lunch every.single.day. No wonder why they have no money!!
If your work does not have a microwave, make up a lunch box with a sandwich, some fruit and other healthy snacks (like healthy bliss balls) to save money.
There you have it… my favourite tips for living the frugal life. It’s much better knowing that my spare change is saved so that when we want to make a large purchase, we’re not scrimping and worrying about where the money is going to come from. We save so we can spend.
What are your favourite frugal Living tips? Comment your tips down below so I can try them and keep reigning as the Queen of Frugality in my family.