A common concern with borrowers is the level of discretionary spend – this is the portion of your income you spend on ‘wants’ as opposed to ‘needs.’ Whilst we are definitely not advocating living a life of frugality (hey – life is for living!), there are some simple ways you can reduce your discretionary expenditure and still have a great time.
Some ideas to consider are:
- Purchase an entertainment book – for the cost of one of these, they generally pay for themselves fairly quickly. If you buy the paper based book, you can even give vouchers to friends / family. As an added bonus, there are a number of charities that sell these as fund raisers – so you can entertain yourself whilst helping a great cause!
- Utilise a streaming service – rather than spending too much on movies / CDs / iTunes, consider streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. Most of these services have extensive libraries, and some even allow family packages (with up to 4 users). Avoid the temptation to sign up to multiple though!
- Consider buying a coffee machine over a daily take away coffee. A good coffee machine will set you back about $600.00. Budgeting $25.00 a month for beans, and $20.00 a month for milk – to purchase the machine and run it for a year will cost you around $1,140.00. A takeaway coffee each day will set you back around $1,460.00 a year. So after 12 months – you’re ahead! Oh, and by using your own cup you’re helping the environment
- Ensure the settings on your home appliances are optimal. You can adjust the setting on your fridge & freezer to reduce power consumption (ensuring food still stays fresh), and you can adjust the temperature on your hot water system – most of us mix the hot with the cold, so why pay to heat it up just to cool it down? Also, try and run your heating and cooling at reasonable set points – a couple of degrees cooler in summer can result in substantially higher energy bills.
- Shop around for gym memberships. Gyms will offer sign up discounts during low periods, student discounts and FIFO deals for gym members that aren’t always around. Casual passes are also available, as well as different levels of memberships based upon equipment / classes / pool / sauna / etc. Pay for what you use, and use it (or lose it). And don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal – gyms are a booming industry, and the sales staff are training to lure and lock you in. But please remember to prioritise your health – it will save you in the long run!
- Limit alcohol consumption. Sure, most of us like a drink, however how many times have we woken up realising last night has left us with a $200.00 hole in the wallet and aa banging headache? Try limiting the number of nights you drink, participate in events such as Dry July, and when you do drink – set a limit for yourself. Australia is one of the highest per capita consumers of alcohol globally, and statistically this is more likely to limit your ability to borrow than the occasional smashed avo
- Whilst on smashed avo, allow a certain amount for dining out each month – and stick to it.
Bear in mind, any goals you set around reducing discretionary spend need to be realistic – life needs to be fun, but it doesn’t need to be expensive!