10 simple ways to save money

Couple looking at bills

RACV Staff

Posted June 26, 2023

If you’re concerned about the cost of essential goods, then here are some simple ways to save money on utilities, fuel, and groceries.

The cost of living is growing in Australia, and households are feeling the pinch. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, it can be a challenge to keep up with rising prices at the bowser, checkout and online.

The latest data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics, released in April 2023, shows households are spending more on housing, food and non-alcoholic beverages, and transport than they were a year ago.

This makes it challenging for retirees, families, housemates, and those living alone, to make ends meet. So, if you’re looking for ways to reduce your spending, here are a few simple measures that might help, including a special fuel offer for RACV members.

RACV members can also save money on entertainment and travel, so they can be frugal and still have fun.

Easy ways to save money

Shop around at the supermarket

Weekly specials at supermarkets and grocery stores can help you save money, but remember to also check the unit pricing - that's the label below the produce, which shows the price per kilogram, per litre or per item. This indicates the best value for money, and it's not always the brand on special.

Generic or home brands are usually cheaper than well-known brands. Buying in bulk can also save you money in the long run, but only if you use all of the product, otherwise you may end up with food waste.

Consider how you can save money on beef, lamb and pork by choosing the right cut, and buy vegetables when they are in season. Imported vegetables usually come with a higher price tag.

Pack your lunch and stop eating out so much 

It's easy to spend $20-$25 a day on coffee and lunch, and if you do that five days a week it can add up to more than $5000 a year.  

Fortunately, there's no shortage of easy packed-lunch ideas for school and work, as well as creative ways to enjoy leftovers. Fritters, poke bowls and sandwiches are popular and versatile. Try these budget friendly recipes to create hearty, filling meals. If you double the recipe, you'll have enough food for a family of four to eat the next day.

If you want to replace your take-away coffee with a home brew, find out about the differences between coffee makers and how to make the best cup of coffee.

Shop around for fuel

Automotive fuel prices are volatile and it pays to shop around. The arevo app has a Fuel Finder feature to help users save money at the fuel bowser. The information is regularly updated, with specific fuel pricing from retailers across Victoria. You can download arevo via the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

RACV is also helping Members save up to 13c per litre on their weekly fuel bill with a stackable discount. The discount applies to all petrol and diesel products (excluding LPG) at more than 150 EG Ampol Woolworths service stations in Victoria. 

At a more basic level, if you want to reduce your fuel consumption and avoid parking fees, consider walking to your nearest grocery store when it's just for a quick shop or try buying online. 



people eating pizza at a dinner party

Eating at home instead of going out can deliver big savings each month. Image: Getty


Use homemade cleaners

Cleaning products can be expensive, and they are often unnecessary. You can save money by using vinegar and bicarbonate of soda for a wide variety of cleaning tasks across all rooms in your home. Not only will you keep your dishwasher and microwave clean, you'll get rid of soap scum and musty smells.

This old-fashioned method is one of many house cleaning tips. It's also great for the environment and among some simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint, which can help you cut back on packaging and landfill.  

Use a clothesline instead of a dryer

Using a clothes dryer might be convenient, but they are also one of the biggest money drainers in your household. 

Instead, use a clothes rack and put it in front of the heater if you have it on. Switch to cold water to wash your clothes, as this can cut between 80 to 90 per cent of washing machine running costs, according to Energy Rating. 

Adjust the thermostat

Heating and cooling the home is one of the biggest contributors to your electricity bill.  

An extra degree on your heater's thermostat can increase energy use by up to 10 per cent, according to energy.gov.au. It’s worth putting on that extra jumper, or using an extra blanket to sleep if you’re cold.  

During winter, there are plenty of other thrifty ways to save money that won’t have you shivering through the colder months.  

clothes dying on a clothes horse with wooden pegs

Dryers are one of the biggest energy suckers in your home. Try a clothes horse instead. Image: Getty


Buy second-hand clothes 

Second-hand and vintage clothing have come into focus in the fashion world, and that's not just because recycling clothing is more environmentally friendly: there are cost benefits to shopping at charity, seconds and recycling shops as well. 

Head to your local second-hand shop and forage around for some great finds. Alternatively, organise a clothes swap with friends, so that your pre-loved items get a second life, and you get the thrill of something new to wear without spending any money.

Use money-saving apps  

Using an app to help with savings goals is great for clarifying how much disposable income you have after calculating your costs for your mortgage or rent, utility bills, and subscriptions.  

It’s basically a budget calculator, and if used correctly, could help your bank account look healthier.  

There are also apps for keeping tabs on groceries, clothing and entertainment, which can help you save small amounts that can add up to big dollars in the long run.

Cancel unused memberships and subscriptions

We’re all guilty of having memberships and subscriptions that we don't use. Think about a gym membership that’s $25 a week. This adds up to $1300 a year, which is a lot of money if you're not using the service. 

Or perhaps it’s an app or streaming service with a monthly fee of between $15-$20. It doesn’t seem like much at the time, but it can mean $780-$1040 a year simply going down the drain. 

person adjusting heater via remote

There are plenty of other ways to stay warm that don't involve cranking the heater, which is a huge contributor to household bills. Image: Getty


Choose reusable over disposable

Single-use plastic straws, plates, and cutlery have been banned in Victoria with good reason. Disposable products make up a third of the litter found in the environment and that's a waste of money. Consider using tea towels or cleaning cloths instead of paper towels.

Resusable cups are de rigueur if you're a coffee drinker, and you can save money with refillable hand wash, shampoos and clearning products. Not every product will have a refillable option, but it's a market that's growing in popularity and there are independent retailers filling the gap.