Seven simple ways to save money around the house

person sitting on couch holding pen and working on laptop

Larissa Dubecki

Posted September 14, 2020

Keep a lid on household expenses. Here are seven simple ways to save money.

Thanks to the economically chilling effects of COVID-19, Victorian household budgets are under scrutiny like never before. 

But take heart. There are simple household expense hacks that don’t mean you have to go without. Jody Allen, who blogs as Stay at Home Mum and is the author of Live Well on Less, is an expert on going lean, not mean. In fact, as she can attest after being made redundant while expecting her second child, finding the savings in everyday life can be a liberating experience.

Take control of your finances with these seven simple money-saving tips. 

Seven simple ways to save money at home


Reduce food waste

Do you ever despair at the amount of food quietly going off in the fridge? Don’t suffer the wasteful fate of limp carrots and suspiciously slimy chicken breasts; instead, embrace meal planning as your new BFF.  “Know exactly what you’re going to eat for family meals in advance, so you can plan out how much to buy,” says Jody. “And fresh is always best, so avoid the centre aisles at the supermarket where the pre-packaged, highly processed items live.” Another tip: always shop with a list so you don’t get tempted by impulse purchases. "We like to get our shopping delivered. That way I know exactly how much money I’ve spent – and I’m not tempted to buy chocolate.” Here are 17 more tips to help you save on your grocery bills, plus delicious ways to use your food waste.

Put your money where it counts

Sometimes it costs money to save money. “It’s a great investment to have a separate chest freezer so you can cook in bulk and defrost meals when needed,” says Jody. And coffee addicts take note: an outlay of a few hundred dollars on an espresso machine will save a staggering $1400-plus a year if you switch a one-coffee-a-day habit from your local cafe to your home kitchen. See our expert’s guide to buying the right coffee machine for you. Other investments, such as solar power, which require a bigger initial outlay, could also save you thousands in the long run.

Beware the 'lazy tax'

Jody sets aside a few days each year to crunch the numbers to find better deals on everything from utility bills to health insurance and bank interest rates. Aggregator websites can help, but before breaking with your usual provider, remember that a simple phone call asking for a better deal can often deliver great results: “I recently tried to break up with my health insurance provider and they offered me two months free just to stay on,” she says.

Here's how to get on top of your life admin.


Make coffee at home.
Consider whether you really need that second car.
Always have a shopping list.

Embrace DIY

It is certainly the time to be questioning our ‘easy come, easy go’ approach to consumerism. There’s profound satisfaction to be had in making or growing something yourself, plus it keeps waste to a minimum. Start a backyard vegie patch for instant access to fresh produce and learn how to repurpose or fix things that would otherwise be thrown away. There are plenty of online resources to get you started. Jump onto a virtual class with Melbourne-based mending maestro Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald, whose inventively colourful approach to clothing repairs will give you loads of inspiration for the artistic possibilities of upcycling.

Mind the (energy) gaps

Energy bills were already on the rise, but their upward trajectory has been supercharged by Victoria's lockdowns: cue excessive use of power-guzzling appliances such as heaters, computers, printers and other devices needed for working and studying from home. Cut heating bills with tried and true methods of insulating your home, such as the humble door snake to block any draughts, and pop on an extra layer of clothing instead of raising the thermostat. 

It also pays dividends to learn about how energy usage is priced – now is the time to jump online for a quick tutorial on the cheapest times to run appliances such as dishwashers and clothes dryers.

Plus, find out how much it costs to run common household items.

Park it

A car represents a major household expense and it might be time to question whether your family really needs that second car – or any car for that matter. It’s worth doing the sums on whether taxis and ride-share services and alternative forms of transportation such as the good old bicycle could fill a gap while still making savings. RACV data suggests it costs an average $221.38 per week to own and run a medium-sized family car, and more for an SUV. “Limit your car trips,” advises Jody. “It saves on fuel and wear and tear.

Check out how much your car costs to run.

Waste not, want not

Remember those endless conversations with your grandparents about their frugality during the war? Turns out they were right. The key question to ask about any new purchase is, “Do I really need it?” Frugailty can be fun when it means making sock puppets with the kids instead of buying them the latest piece of primary-coloured plastic that’s destined to wind up in landfill. Jody also recommends using a micro-saving investment app such as Raiz, which rounds up any credit-card purchase to the nearest dollar and invests it in exchange traded funds (ETFs). “Our account saves around $2500 a year, which we use as our holiday fund,” she says.

Ultimately, every home hack helps. Work out what works for you and reap the rewards. 

“I really think the lessons we’re learning now are going to be helpful going into the future,” says Jody. “Even when this is all over it’s a great chance to reset and stop wasting the money you work so hard for.”

Need a hand with your home maintenance? Let RACV help.
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