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December 19, 2018 | 05:24 AM
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25.08.2018How needless spending can dent a budget

Part of living a good life in the modern world revolves around spending money, and there's no getting away from the fact that enjoying life is going to incur some costs.


Part of living a good life in the modern world revolves around spending money, and there’s no getting away from the fact that enjoying life is going to incur some costs. Whether it’s that daily cup of coffee picked up on the way to work or simply a few meals out with the significant other every so often, there are a whole host of ways in which money can easily disappear on those special treats.

But this can come at a cost, and that cost is usually significant for every person’s budget. For all but the richest Australians, mindless spending can seriously impact a person’s financial outlook – and that’s something nobody wants to run the risk of incurring, especially given that prices are rising and rising all the time. With the cost of living going up by 2% in 2017 alone, it’s important for Australians to find ways to avoid spending needlessly and allow their budgets to take them a little further.

Food and groceries

There are all kinds of drains on a household’s budget. But perhaps the most pernicious of all lies in the weekly supermarket shop – and that’s because there are so many opportunities to just fritter cash away. Supermarkets are designed to get shoppers to spend more than they perhaps should: they often, for example, place tempting treats near the counter. By writing a list of required items (including some affordable treats) and sticking to it, these tricks can be avoided.

On-the-go luxuries

Going about day-to-day business requires fuel – and that’s why grabbing a coffee on the way to work, picking up a chocolate bar at the petrol station and more are all common habits. Costs like these are often particularly damaging because they appear small at first but quickly add up. A four-dollar coffee seems like an insignificant spend, but when five get bought in a week and the total cost is twenty dollars it suddenly seems like a lot more.

It may sound unbelievable, but the average Australian spends almost $600 per year at the cafe – and this kind of distracted, routine spending has been exacerbated by the explosion of popularity of contactless bank cards. Shorter transaction times mean less time to think about the spend, less time to make a budget calculation and less time to make a decision about what’s really needed. Those who find themselves spending mindlessly or needlessly like this don’t have to go entirely without treats like coffee. Instead, why not invest in a coffee cup and a cafetiere and then make a takeaway flask full before leaving the house?

Old payments

Skimming down bank statements every month may seem like enough to stay on top of spending, but it’s often not sufficient. Upon closer inspection of their lists of regular scheduled bank payments, many people are surprised to learn that they are still paying out old magazine subscriptions they thought they’d cancelled, regular charity payments that they thought were one-offs, and more.

It’s definitely worth spending some time going through these and ensuring that all needless payments are cancelled at the earliest possible opportunity. And it’s also worth using this moment to check that none of the necessary payments are too high, either. Checking for cheaper energy tariffs is always a smart move, as many Australians are paying more than they should be for what they use. Online calculators can definitely help here, as can speaking to the provider and asking for a list of all available tariffs and prices in order to become fully informed.

Spending is part of modern life and there’s no way around dropping a few dollars here and there as part of enjoying living. But it’s also important to strike a balance, too – and those who don’t often find themselves struggling to pay the bills or even falling into debt. By getting a handle on everything from waste during the food shop to replacing luxuries with more cost-effective alternatives, the scourge of needless spending can be eliminated.



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