10 easy ways to handle the rising cost of living in 2024

Collage of hand dropping speech bubble into piggy bank: how to save on the cost of living

Let's face it: things are exxy. Pricey. Costing all the dollarydoos! From food to fuel to housing, the ballooning cost of living has got many Australians breathing into a paper bag.

But calm down: it’s not all hopeless. Salaries are rising, but we can tighten the proverbial belt. So let’s review some of the best, quick, cost-saving tips to start in 2024. Consider it therapy for your wallet!

Here’s ten easy ways to handle the cost of living this year.

1. Cut down energy usage

Cut down energy usage

Summer brings the temptation to crank up the air-con, but this only works if your unit has a good energy-efficiency rating and your home is well insulated. Usually, it's cheaper to cool the human, not the home.

Think big picture with your energy usage to find other ways to save this year. Use plug-in timers or turn off unnecessary gadgets ghosting power overnight or while you’re out, like your WiFi router, microwave, TV, computer, etc. 

Long-term, compare energy plans and consider switching if you find a better deal. If you already have some savings in the bank, consider upgrading your home with better insulation, or even a solar panel or two. A few grand now could save you hundreds of thousands in electricity bills later – as well as the environment.

Compare energy plans

Find energy plans available in your area.

2. Switch your bank account

Switch your bank account

Most people tend not to switch bank accounts because they believe it’s too hard or complicated – but this only helps the banks, not you.

Thankfully, it’s actually pretty easy to switch banks and save. Compare high interest savings accounts to find better deals and interest rates, then apply to open an account. Migrate all your bills and salary direct deposits, then voila! It's time to grow your savings.

3. Buy groceries online or from small local shops

Buy groceries online

Traditional grocery stores are designed to make us spend as much as possible: it's why you often leave with more than you wanted! Instead, online grocery shopping can help you watch your total and only buy what you need, as well as compare prices easily. Maybe that knock-off brand really is cheaper!

YouGov found that Australians could actually save as much as  $1,360 annually by ordering groceries online. (Psst: our experts found some of the best online grocery shops for you to compare).

You could also sign-up for a meal kit delivery service instead of your usual shop. This way, you don’t have to spend time deciding what to get.

Otherwise, try these hacks when buying your groceries:

  • Buy locally grown, seasonal produce.
  • Buy in bulk, if possible.
  • Make substitutions, like rice instead of pasta and chicken instead of beef.
  • Shop at smaller, local grocers, butchers, and delis.
  • Challenge yourself to eat everything in your fridge (so long as it's in date).
  • Cook in bulk with a slow cooker: freeze the rest for later.

4. Rethink your commute

Rethink your commute

If sky-high petrol prices are making you cry (they’re sure making us cry), cut corners on your fuel bills (not the roads) by using government fuel check apps to compare servo prices. 

Being proud Aussies, we also get to enjoy access to decent public transportation. Rethink your work commute by carpooling, biking, or catching the bus where you can. Now’s definitely the time to take full advantage of working from home, too.

But if that still doesn't cut it, have a look at the fuel reward discounts on offer at the moment to see if they could make a difference to your budget.

5. Switch your mobile plan or broadband provider

Collage of phones coming out of the couch.

Internet access has become essential for many Aussies – and telcos know it. Hence, they sneak sneaky fees into your bills, like excess data charges, or reduce your mobile speeds till the delays drive you crazy and you fork out for more data.

Don’t put up with it: compare mobile and broadband providers to find a better deal. Look for coverage, discounts, and extra perks. (For example, sometimes you can get a free streaming service, or data bonuses. It'll depend on the plan, and T&Cs will always apply). 

If you don’t use your mobile phone that often, you could save big time by switching to a prepaid plan instead of a postpaid one. This way, you know upfront what you’re spending and what you’ll get, rather than getting slapped with surprise excess data fees at the end of the month.

Certain providers like Vodafone also offer bundling discounts (with T&Cs, of course), so you could save by getting your mobile and broadband from the same place.

Nowadays, it’s pretty common for providers to offer no lock-in contracts, so switching is easier than ever. The key, though? Do your research, and get ruthless about what you really need. No point in spending more than you have to!

6. Track your spending with a smart money app

Track your spending

Nowadays, there are some pretty amazing smart money apps to help you keep track of your spending.

Download a money-saving app of your choice then have a look at where your money's going. Once you have a clearer idea of your expenses, you can decide what you can do without.

7. Actually make a budget

Actually make a budget

“Make a budget” can feel like depressing advice, but budgets aren’t there to hurt your spending. In fact, they empower it. 

Instead of thinking, "I only have this much to spend," think, "I can spend this much." The best budget will balance your needs and lifestyle. Plus, you can always change it. If you underspend in one category, you can overspend in another, or shift your goals around till it's just right.

There are some heckin' awesome budget apps out there, too, that make budgeting as easy (and fun) as possible. Why not try a few? 

While you’re at it, have a go at our free budget calculator. Remember: budgets are friends, not food. Wait…

8. See if you’re eligible for government benefits or vouchers

Collage of a woman holding up a government voucher.

Different Australian states and territories have announced a range of vouchers to encourage people to spend locally, from parent discounts on swimming lessons to subsidies for back to school stuff.

Check out your local Services Australia app to see what you might be eligible for.

9. Get amongst the free activities

Free activities

Free fun is the best fun! Unplug for a day and explore free activities in your local area. Most cities will have free museums or council run parks, gardens, walks, and beaches for your enjoyment.

Brew a cuppa and do a little bit of research: your next adventure could be budget-friendly and just down the road.

10. Sell stuff you aren’t using

Sell stuff you aren't using

If you're not using it, sell it. Places like eBay, Gumtree, and Facebook Marketplace provide great platforms for getting rid of old items for a small profit.

Some hot ticket items to sell can include:

  • Clothes
  • Electronics (especially vintage ones).
  • Books.
  • Furniture.
  • Refurbished items.
  • Arts & crafts. 

These can all net you some quick cash for your savings. Plus, moving something on is a great way to avoid contributing to landfill. Huzzah for the environment!

Bonus tip! If you have a home loan, consider refinancing

Woman excited about her refinanced home

Interest rates have increased by 4.25% since May 2022. For borrowers with variable home loans, this means they could be paying hundreds of dollars more in interest per month.

But while refinancing can sound like a scary prospect, it’s better than drowning in a mortgage you can no longer afford. 

Some lenders even offer you up to $2,000 cashback to refinance, so shop around and compare what you find. The grass (and your bank account) might truly be greener on the other side.

Concerned about the rising cost of living? Head over to our family finances hub for more money saving tips.

You can also browse and compare savings accounts below to grow your nest egg.

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