How frugal are you? We audited ourselves against 70 frugal tips (Free Printable)

Our family is pretty frugal, and during the last year I believe we’ve cut our expenses significantly in response to the global uncertainty. That said I always believe there is room for improvement so I audited our household against 70 tips to cut expenses, save money and live a thrifty life.

Canstar being the legends they are recently produced the following article which I started reading ‘Frugal Living: 70 tips to cut expenses, save money and live a thrifty life’. Instead of just simply reading the article which you need to read I decided to do an audit to see if there were any areas that my family could improve upon.

If you want to do this audit on your own individual circumstances I’ve created a free printable below for you to try it for yourself

A screenshot of the free printable ‘How Frugal Are You?’

These are our results from doing the audit:

These are our results from doing the audit:

Frugal TipImplementedNeeds improvement
Spending Diary or Regular Expense Tracking
Write down your goals
Make Savings Fun
(Visual Tracking or Savings Challenges)
Self-awareness of emotional spending and avoidance of triggers
This is a constant battle
Join an online community (eg Facebook or Instagram community like She’s on the Money)
Start a coin jar
Shop at a physical supermarket
One shop, once a week
Use a shopping list app
Meal prep like a pro
Make use of leftovers
Use your own coffee machine
Swap meat for veg regularly
Buy frozen veggies
Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach
Buy generic brand versions where possible
Pay bills on time to avoid late fees
Monitor your bank balance
Audit your bank accounts to see if you are paying fees
Check how much interest you are paying on your credit cardN/A
Phone your bank and ask them for a discount on your home loan interest rate
Shop around for your car insurance regularly
Review your health insurance regularly
Review your personal insurance regularly
Review your superannuation fund
Track down lost money in bank accounts
Review your telecommunications contracts
In the last 6 months
Seek cheaper ways to connect internationallyN/A
Avoid streaming on your phone using mobile data
Review your electricity and gas use regularly
In the last 6 months
Pay yourself first (your savings / investments etc)
Use ‘Rounding Up’ programs
I do mine manually
Get your bills online
Get discounts on petrol
I could be better
Get bonus interest on your savings account
Organise your tax receipts
Check your family is registered for the Medicare Safety Net
Keep things in working order
Fix it yourself
Buy clothes that don’t need dry cleaning
I cannot remember the last time I needed dry cleaning
Make your own greeting cards
Start doing Secret Santa for Christmas
Check your calendar to save money on gifts (Plan ahead)
Delay gratification: Follow the 10 second rule
Delete stored debit / credit card numbers
Calculate the value of your impulse buys in hours of work
Use your local library (including online libraries such as the Libby app)
Make your own cleaning products
Look for coupons or cashback opportunities
Consider joining a customer rewards program
Shop out of season
Reuse, reuse, reuse
Rationalise your subscription services
Price match where possible
We need to do this more
Shared expenses: use splitting and repayment toolsN/A
Use air conditioning more efficiently
Get your head out of the fridge
The kids need improvement
Save on electricity and air dry clothes
We are mostly good at this
Freeze uneaten food
Save on water costs by using water savings techniques (timed showers, water saving shower heads etc)
Participate in free online surveys for cash
Take your reusable bags to the supermarket
Collect and cash in (Bottle Deposit Schemes)
Check your payslip
Grow your own veggies / produce
Propagate your own plants
Learn for free
I need to do some more research on this
Ditch expensive printers
We’ve compared ours and its one of the cheapest out there
Know your refund rights
Get help from a financial counsellor if you need itN/A
Table – 70 tips to reduce your expenses

The Verdict:

So we have successfully implemented 60 out of 70 of the Frugal Tips recommended by Canstar. In the next few weeks I’m going to work on some of our improvement areas and:

  • Start a coin jar
  • Meal prep
  • Check to see if we have any missing money
  • Consistently use petrol apps and discounts
  • Trial Secret Santa this year
  • Be a little more organised with gift giving
  • Calculate the ‘real’ cost of splurge items in relation to work hours
  • Take advantage of price matching more
  • Put more effort into drying clothes naturally
  • Find out about free study options

Overall this audit has been a really great way to check in and find a few areas to improve upon (and it didn’t take long at all). I highly recommend doing the same and the link to free printable is below:

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Introducing ‘The Frank Basics’ Etsy Store

Thank you for the support you’ve given me in creating and sharing my first personal finance tracker (Personal Finance Budget Spreadsheet and Automated Dashboard).

Since this time I’ve been busy continuing developing other products following requests I’ve received via social media and Etsy. This is a passion project rather than a desire to make money. I work in data and analytics and as part of my role develop solutions for visualising data in multiple platforms for large organisations. I get a lot of joy out of creating solutions for individuals, and working with people to build something to make a work process more efficient (eg through automation of tasks).

I’ve now formally created my Etsy Store aptly named ‘The Frank Basics’. My store now contains 12 digital products at the time of posting as listed below.

Personal Finance Tools

Business / Other Tools

I will continue to add to these products as I develop them so please check in regularly if you are interested (or if you have an idea you would like to see me bring to life get in touch).

Alternatively I also offer Microsoft Excel development (with advanced VBA/Macros) and customisation services to meet your individualised needs.

I’ve put a lot of work into each of my products and have priced accordingly, but for those that follow me on the blog/Instagram I’ve decided to provide you the following coupon code to save you 10% off all products (as a thank you for following along).

Coupon Code – FRANK10

Feel free to get in touch before hand if you have any questions or additional information you would like before making your commitment to purchase.

If you do end up purchasing it please let me know your thoughts and feedback.

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Personal Finance Budget Spreadsheet and Dashboard

I’ve been working on this baby for years. Initially it was as my own budget and dashboard and it developed into something I would like to share with others.

Update 25th January 2021 – Please note that since this article was posted I have created additional Personal Finance products to suit individual requirements. I recommend you taking a look at the following post (‘The Frank Basics’ Etsy Store) before purchasing to ensure you find the right product to meet your needs

The Personal Finance Budget Spreadsheet and Automated Dashboard has been a few months in the making since I first decided to share it more widely than my computer hard drive. I have always enjoyed using spreadsheets and it remains the one part of my job that I quite enjoy. As a result I decided to modify my tried and tested one into something that others might find helpful (not everyone likes spreadsheets and this one aims to do the work for you).

The Personal Finance Budget and Automated Dashboard (which includes inbuilt debt snowball / avalanche calculator for Microsoft Excel) contains 9 sheets (tabs) including:

  • Dashboard (Automated sheet)
  • Debts (Data entry sheet) – this sheet includes a debt snowball or avalanche calculator
  • Mortgage (Data entry sheet)
  • Emergency Fund (Data entry sheet)
  • Savings (Data entry sheet)
  • Sinking Funds (Data entry sheet)
  • Budget (Data entry sheet)
  • Review Sheet (Automated sheet)
  • Expense Review (Data entry sheet)

My goal with this workbook is to try to make using excel easy while letting you use all the best features it has to offer.

It also is formatted so you can print the sheets off for your fridge (or other area of your home) – eg the debt and savings trackers.

What does this Personal Finance and Budgeting Spreadsheet do?

For a full list of specifications I would recommend checking out the Etsy listing here.

  • Calculate the % paid off of your debts, and mortgages.
  • Calculates how close you are to reaching your savings goals (Emergency Fund, Sinking Funds, or other Savings Goals)
  • Calculate your income from multiple jobs
  • Calculate expenses you pay weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or yearly
  • The Dashboard shows you how much you have spent on each category (You decide the categories you want – completely customizable)
  • The Review sheet shows you how much money you have left
  • The Expense Review sheet is an optional sheet with a little quiz guiding you on where you could make changes to your budget to save money.

What you will receive:

  • One Microsoft Excel file template
  • One Quick Start Guide PDF

Notes:

  • Created on Microsoft Excel 2016  (only works with Microsoft Excel not Google Sheets)
  • Please note that this spreadsheet uses Macros so please ensure when you open this file you ‘enable macros’.
  • Please note that every sheet on this spreadsheet has built-in instruction buttons to assist you with completing each sheet.

I’ve put a lot of work into it and have priced it accordingly, but for those that follow me on the blog/Instagram I’ve decided to provide you the following coupon code to save you 10% off (as a big thank you for following along).

Coupon Code – FRANK10

Feel free to get in touch before hand if you have any questions or additional information you would like before making your purchase. I’m also happy to field questions to assist you to get the most out of it post sale.

If you do end up purchasing it please let me know your thoughts and feedback. I’m keen to create some more spreadsheet style items so let me know what other trackers or dashboards etc that you would like to see.

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Free Printable – 52 week Investing Challenge Printable

I’m posting this one just in time for the new year. This my investing tracker which I’m using to track our progress towards our investing goals in 2021.

If you liked my other Free Printable called the 52 Week Savings Challenge Printable you are going to like this one.

You will like this one because its the same as the old one with just a few tweaks for an investment focus. I created this tracker for myself as part of my investment strategy. For those who follow me via Instagram you may notice it’s the same one I post online each payday.

If you’ve read my article on goal setting and how to maximise your chances of reaching your goal/s then you will know that tracking your goal will greatly improve your chances of success.

I like to have a physical tracker like this one so I can visualise my progress every time I go to the kitchen (which is a lot). For me it reinforces my path, how I’m going and if I need to make some corrective changes to ensure I reach it.

To use this printable:

  1. Print it out using the download button below (no sign up required).
  2. Write down your investment goal in the space provided.
  3. Divide your investment goal amount by 52 to determine how much each coin will be worth (and how much you need to put away for investing each week). Example : $10000 / 52 = $192.31.
  4. Document the coin value in the space provided.
  5. Place your tracker in a place that you will frequently see (I place mine on the fridge so even the kids know what we our goals are).
  6. Then get colouring and hitting those goals

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The ‘Anti-Meal Plan’ for people who don’t like to Meal Plan

Like meal planning? Yep me neither, but I do like the benefits that come with meal planning such as keeping within a budget.

We keep a fairly tight food budget of under $150 a week for a family of 4 (two adults and two pre-teen boys at the time of writing this). In order to keep our costs low week after week I’ve developed a system which keeps us under budget without too much effort, and today I’m sharing it.

I call it the anti-meal plan because its a plan you only do once (you can do it more if you want to but I don’t), which really appeals to us.

So what is our Anti-Meal Plan? Well its really a bit of a throwback to simpler times with a modern twist. We simply have allocated a certain meal type to each day of the week. The idea around the Anti Meal Plan is that its a 7 Day Meal Plan for the year that is flexible enough to allow you to not be too bored, but allows you to still keep within your budget.

In order to stick to our budget I allocate 60% of our grocery budget to dinners, which works out to be $90 (your budget might be higher or lower than ours so adjust to your needs). Then I split this amount 7 ways. You can do this equally if you wish or you can do what we do which is have a mixture of low cost meals mixed in with higher cost meals. This way you still can enjoy what you love on occasion.

The Anti-Meal Plan

Step One – Allocate an amount for each day of the week dependant on your budget (I use a 60% total food budget rule for dinners).

  • Monday – $10 meal day
  • Tuesday – $15 meal day
  • Wednesday – $10 meal day
  • Thursday – $15 meal day
  • Friday – $5 meal day
  • Saturday – $15 meal day
  • Sunday – $20 meal day

Total Budget for Dinners – $90

Step Two – Come up with a flexible meal for each day of the week

I’m sure this will be the hardest step for most people, but my advice to you is to keep it as flexible as possible. This will allow you to still take advantage of reduced to clear items, weekly specials and seasonal produce. Below is a copy of my plan – it might sound boring, but it honestly isn’t as there are so many choices and flavour combos that we can have within each one. For example Saturday is sausage night, but that can mean any meal with sausages in it. There are a million and one different recipes with sausages in it. Our favourites are sausage pizza, hot dogs, sausage casserole, bangers and mash, curried sausages, homemade sausage rolls, and I even make meatloaf from good quality sausage filling on occasion.

Our Anti-Meal Plan for our dinners is as follows;

  • Monday – Pasta Night
  • Tuesday – Asian Night
  • Wednesday – Pasta Night
  • Thursday – Fake-away Night
  • Friday – Breakfast Dinner or Leftovers Night
  • Saturday – Sausage Night
  • Sunday – Roast Night

Step Three – Write your meal plan down and place a copy on the fridge / and in your wallet / phone

The more places you write this plan down and see it the more likely you are to stick to it. It’s vital to take your plan with you when you go shopping as this will help you stay within your budget (I carry around a screenshot of it on my phone and the amounts I’ve allocated with me).

The Most Important Step – Please remember that the great thing about the Anti-Meal Plan is that if you are feeling imaginative you can change it. If you are suddenly inspired then throw your anti-meal plan out for the week and change things up a bit.

The Anti-Meal plan is designed to be there as the ultimate back up system to ensure that even when you can’t be bothered meal planning in the traditional sense that you can still keep within your budget.

A copy of my Anti-Meal Plan is located below as well as a blank version that can be printed.

I would love to see and share any versions of your Anti-meal plan on Instagram so please tag me @FrankOnFire_

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Free Printable – 52 Week Savings Challenge

If you want to improve your chances of reaching a goal you need to track it, and I’ve created a free printable to help you do just that and track your yearly savings goal.

I have also created a 52 Week Free Investing Challenge Printable for those with an investment goal you wish to track. Check it out using the link here.

To use the 52 Week Savings Challenge printable:

  1. Print it out using the download button below (no sign up required).
  2. Write down your savings goal in the space provided.
  3. Divide your savings goal amount by 52 to determine how much each coin will be worth (and how much you need to save each week). Example : $10000 / 52 = $192.31.
  4. Document the coin value in the space provided.
  5. Place your tracker in a place that you will frequently see (I place mine on the fridge so even the kids know what we our goals are).
  6. Then get colouring and hitting those goals

If you want to read more about how you can increase your chances of achieving your financial goals – take a look here.

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