Pensions are the primary financial support for several members of our aging nation. While many are grateful for the support, it can also be difficult to make a pension cover all the necessary costs of living to care for oneself and one’s family. Costs of living seem to only be increasing, from getting dinged at the fuel pump to rising prices in the grocery store, and pensions remain unchanged.
ABC Local Radio and Anglican Community Care have teamed up to produce Dollars and Sense, a program meant to help people make every last bit of that limited amount of money count.
Cathy Risely (ACC’s South East Support Worker) and Margaret Solomans (Micro-Finance Officer for the ACC) recently gave an interview on how to reduce your expenses. Between the two of them, they came up with quite a list, and we’ve summarized it for you below.
Tips for reducing your expenses
- Average out your bills.
Make a list of your typical expenses and attempt to set aside money for them each month, instead of waiting to see how much they come to and then looking for money. This will reduce your stress and keep you organised with bill payments.
- Avoid eating out as much as possible.
The prices of takeout food are hugely marked up, and you can save a lot on your grocery bill just by buying the ingredients and cooking the meal yourself. You can even set it up so that you cook in bulk and freeze food for leftovers to make it even easier to save.
- Be organized about errand running.
You can save yourself a lot of gas just by thinking about all the errands you need to do, and planning an order for those errands.
- Budget, budget, budget.
Know what you’re spending your money on and make a plan to spend it as carefully as possible. If you’re struggling with this, keep a spending diary for a few weeks. Then review it and start looking for spending patterns to figure out what you can afford to cut back on.
- Don’t ignore entertainment costs.
We all enjoy renting a movie or going out with friends every now and then, so don’t be afraid to budget your entertainment costs into your pension. You’ll get the guilt free experience that comes with spending money you planned to spend, and avoiding over-spending at the same time!
- Fix drips sooner rather than later.
A dripping faucet actually wastes a significant amount of water, and may be contributing a bigger portion to your bill than you’d like. Several litres a day can be wasted just by not having that leaky faucet looked at!
- Gift cards can help avoid impulse buying.
If you know you only have a certain amount of money to spend on groceries, consider purchasing a supermarket gift card. That way the money will definitely go to groceries, and you’ll have a simple way to track when you’re out for the week.
- Look for drafts.
If you find a spot in your home particularly drafty, make sure you’re not having any issues with insulation or gaps in spacing between doors or windows and the walls. By performing this check and following up on drafts, you can cut your heating bill by as much as 25%.
- Lower your hot water temperature.
Just by switching to 60 degrees, you’ll have significantly cut back on your energy costs without having to change your access to hot water.
- Pay yourself first.
You’re going to spend a little bit of your cash on yourself, it’s natural and it’s fine. The key thing is to limit that amount, and a great way to do this is by withdrawing that money first when you get paid.
- Try the 2 minute shower technique.
Most people spend a lot more time in the shower than they need to. While the water may feel nice, what doesn’t is the water bill that comes at the end of the month. Try the two minute shower technique. Use a timer if you need to, get in and wash up, and get out, in under 2 minutes. Do this for a month and see if your jaw doesn’t just drop at the new bill that comes.
- Walk when possible.
Walking is good for your health and for your pocketbook, saving you valued cash that would have been spent on fuel. As an added bonus, it’s been shown to improve mood and health!
There are plenty of things you can do to ensure your pension is going as far as it can for you. The key thing is to be aware of your spending habits and to do what you can to control them.