- Prepare more food, snacks, and drinks at home.
If you’re going to be away from home for the day, plan ahead and take all the food, snacks, water, or drinks you’ll need with you. A little investment in Thermos cups, chiller bags, or other items to keep food and drinks warm or cold will go a long way to save you money over the course of a week. The purchase of takeaway coffees and food on the go is often impulsive. You’ll save a small fortune if you’re always prepared.
- Avoid getting takeaways.
The cost of multiple trips to the takeaway because you haven’t planned a meal can add up quickly – even the budget drive-through sort. If you work late, have after-school commitments, or otherwise feel flummoxed when everyone’s hungry and the meal isn’t prepared, take a bit of time when it’s available (on the weekend or your day off) to get some complete meals into the freezer, make sauces and other easy-keep preparations and plan out the week’s worth of meals so you don’t get caught out during busier times. Keep it really simple to start with, and if you feel like cooking isn’t your strong suit, look for help and inspiration online, ask for help from more culinarily-enlightened friends, or take a local class to upskill on the basics.
- Only eat out on special occasions.
Treating yourself or your family to a meal out on birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions is a lovely way to mark the special celebrations in the course of our lives. If you commit to only dining out when you have something specific to celebrate rather than including ‘Friday night dinners’ or other impulsive trips to cafes and restaurants, you’ll find you save yourself plenty of money over time.
- Drink less.
Alcohol is a curious conundrum – the best prepper manuals advise laying down some alcohol stores to boost morale in times of crisis or shortage, while the modern societal impacts of the misuse of alcohol and the tragic consequences of alcoholism are innumerable. Conflicting research can claim a daily glass of red wine to be the holy grail of health one day, and the next the poisonous liquid should be avoided at all costs. One thing we can all agree on is that alcohol costs money (but water is free). Work on drinking less, and your wallet will thank you. You could also consider brewing your own alcohol at home.
- Grow food at home.
As fresh food becomes more scarce and prices rise, growing your own vegetables, keeping chickens for eggs, beekeeping or other self-sufficient methods of producing your own food will become increasingly valuable. Seed saving, sharing, and crop swapping will also become important within locally resilient communities.
- Preserve the harvest.
Basic preserving techniques include bottling, drying, or salting meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, and with a few basic staples like sugar, salt, vinegar, and spices, you can make yours or someone else’s homegrown produce go much further with these tried-and-true techniques.
- Don’t spend on new things, invest in them.
Thoughtful purchasing was the cornerstone of life for our forebears, particularly in times of excessive scarcity. We’ve become far too accustomed to the convenience of the high street dollar and big brand shops providing cheap options for our every whim, and often without realising it we spend far more than we need over time on items we might otherwise spend more on initially, but which will last. Spending a bit more at the outset can also come with other advantages such as longer warranties, guarantees, and better service from the manufacturer.
- Cancel unnecessary subscriptions.
Subscriptions to streaming services, media, and special interest groups can quickly add up. Catherine Austin Fitts advises, “Cancel subscriptions to, and stop watching and reading corporate media that do not give you the information you need to know to understand what is going on and how to act in your own best interest.” Do you even need a TV!? Perhaps the board games or pack of cards are calling instead.
- Do free things for fun.
Does a good time for you tend to involve spending money on food, drinks, movie, or concert tickets? Do you need petrol money, train or bus fare, entry fees or other spending money? The best way to do fun things for little or no cost is to share it together with others. Picnics in the park, frisbee at the beach, pot luck dinners, or shared movie nights are great ways to socialise without a hefty price tag. Take up an exercise or join a team for a low-cost way to have fun while staying fit.
- Shop at op shops and recycled stores, and use the library.
One person’s trash is another’s treasure; next time you need to replace or acquire an item, visit the op shops first. Not only might you be spoiled for choice, but you’ll also be supporting a local charity while you’re at it. It’s tempting to buy brand new books, but you can read them for free by using the library’s services.
- Consider your energy use.
You can reduce your electricity bill with a few thoughtful lifestyle tweaks and DIY home maintenance ideas. Reduce your shower time, dry washing with a clothes rack or line and use the dryer only in emergencies, wash in cold water only, switch lights off when not in the room, turn off appliances when not in use, get cosy at night and light some candles. Swap electric blankets for hot water bottles, and use clothes, blankets, hats, and slippers for warmth instead of blasting the heater. It’s also smart to identify and fix any leaks in your home, deal with drafts, lag your hot water cylinder and switch to gas where possible.
- Have a clear-out (and a garage sale).
Decluttering is super healthy for your soul and can be quite a boon for your wallet too. Be ruthless (ask a friend to help if this feels like a challenge); you might be amazed at what you’ve accumulated over time. Sell all the excess items by having a garage sale or using Trademe or your local grapevine or marketplace, or get a stall at a local market.