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Taking control over spending is always important, but more so during times of economic uncertainty. Sadly, many people see this as a “loss,” that by controlling expenses they’re somehow struggling and not enjoying life like they want to. The reality is that with careful planning it’s possible to live life well and not sacrifice your quality of life, while also keeping some good savings.

There are several ways that you can do this, and while you can (and should) consult with your adviser s to develop deeper financial plans, using these eight points to start thinking about cost savings is a good first step.

1.) Evaluate Your Spending Habits

The first step towards smart spending is to, simply, to assess your current financial situation. You can do this by keeping careful track of your expenses over a few months, and this will help you to identify patterns and areas where you may be overspending. Then, categorise your expenses into essentials and non-essentials. This will provide you with some immediate insights and understanding about just how much money you could save by carefully considering whether those non-essentials are worth the investment.

2.) Create a Realistic Budget

Once you’ve identified your spending patterns, it’s time to create a realistic budget. Allocate your income to cover essential expenses such as housing, utilities, insurance, groceries, and transportation first. Then, also allocate a portion of your income to savings and paying off any debts like credit cards and loans. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a pool of money left, from which you should set aside some for discretionary spending on non-essential items. What’s left after that will become your savings.

    3.) Review Subscriptions and Memberships

    When you start tracking your spending, you’re almost certain to be shocked by how much you pay for subscriptions and memberships. It’s easy to accumulate subscriptions and memberships for various platforms, and because they are, individually, quite small, you don’t really register what the total impact of them is on your finances. From streaming services to gym memberships, cutting back on those subscriptions that you don’t REALLY use can lead to substantial savings without sacrificing entertainment or fitness.

      4.) Optimise Utility Usage

      Utilities can be a significant monthly expense, but there are ways to optimise their usage without compromising comfort. Invest in energy-efficient appliances, turn off lights and electronic devices when not in use, and consider adjusting your thermostat to save on heating and cooling costs. Say you like your air conditioning set to 20 degrees. Are you going to be that much more uncomfortable if it’s set at 21? You’d be surprised by how much that reduces the power draw, and small changes in utility usage can result in substantial long-term savings.

        5.) Embrace Meal Planning and Cooking at Home

        Eating at restaurants, or calling in home delivery, can be a lot of fun, but if you make it a habit, you’ll find that it hits your budget pretty hard. Embrace meal planning and cooking at home to not only save money but also promote a healthier lifestyle. Plan your meals for the week, create a shopping list, and buy groceries in bulk to take advantage of discounts. Cooking at home not only cuts costs but also allows you to have more control over the ingredients, promoting a balanced and nutritious diet.

          6.) Negotiate Bills and Expenses

          Don’t be afraid to negotiate bills and expenses. Whether it’s your electricity and Internet bill, insurance premiums, or credit card interest rates, many providers are open to negotiation. Additionally, remember that in Australia you have a choice and are not obliged to give your business to any one provider. Research competitive rates, contact your providers, and inquire about discounts or better deals. Loyalty to a provider may also sometimes pay off in the form of reduced costs or added benefits, so if you’ve been with a provider for a long time, ask them what they can do for you.

            7.) Prioritise Quality over Quantity

            When it comes to discretionary spending, prioritise quality over quantity. Rather than making frequent, impulsive purchases, focus on investing in high-quality items that offer long-term value. This approach applies to clothing, electronics, furniture, and other items you may be tempted to replace frequently. Quality often pays off in durability, reducing the frequency of replacements and long-term costs.

              8.) Build an Emergency Fund

              While it may seem counterintuitive to talk about saving money when discussing cutting costs, building an emergency fund is a crucial component of financial stability. Having a financial safety net can prevent you from resorting to high-interest loans or credit cards in times of unexpected expenses. Start small and gradually build your emergency fund to cover at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses. You’ll be surprised with how quickly you will be able to save, just by putting small amounts aside regularly.

                Overall, smart spending is about making intentional choices that align with your financial goals without compromising your overall quality of life. By evaluating your spending habits, creating a realistic budget, and making strategic adjustments to your lifestyle, you can achieve significant cost savings.

                  Finally, be prepared to ask for help! Not everyone is great with budgets and savings, and sometimes you do need someone to help you take a step back and make the hard decisions. The right accountants and financial planners can help you save a lot of money in the long term, and that will help you feel comfortable and enjoy a high quality of life.

                  We are here to assist if you need assistance with any aspect of your financial life.

                    Important information – Oracle Advisory Group makes no representation or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in it including, without limitation, any forecasts. The information in this document is general information only and is not based on the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular investor. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this document, and seek their own professional advice. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The information provided in the document is current as the time of publication.
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