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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Side Hustle Series – Bottle and Metal Recycling

This is my second article in my side hustle series posts, and it’s a side hustle I’m quite passionate about….. recycling.

I’m a millennial so from birth its been hammered into my brain that we need to recycle and reuse as much as possible to minimise our impact on mother earth. So for me making a little cash whilst doing something that I love like recycling makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

How do I make money from recycling?

The ability to apply this side hustle to your own situation will depend on where you are located.

In Australia at the time of posting the following states offer $0.10 per bottle recycling.

Coming Soon

Additionally metal and other paid recycling will again depend on your rules and regulations in your state. Check them out online or head on down to your local recycling plant to get the full story for yourself.

How does the bottle refund / recycling scheme work and what are the benefits?

The bottle refund / recycling scheme works by adding a small extra deposit on top of the price of a beverage. This extra deposit is then refunded when the purchaser returns the empty drink container for recycling.

The benefits of the recycling scheme for bottles are:

  • Reduce bottle / container related litter by encouraging litter to be picked up with the reward being the $0.10 per bottle/container.
  • Improved Recycling through more effective capture and sorting with reduced risk of contamination.

So how do I know what bottles or containers are part of the bottle refund / recycling scheme?

Bottles in your state or territory are marked with a stamp which indicates their ability to be recycled as part of the bottle refund / recycling scheme. Some bottle types are not able to be recycled and will not result in a refund being paid. More information on the types of bottles and containers that are recyclable under the scheme is available in the links provided above.

How much money do I make from recycling? and is it worth it?

We make about $50 bi-monthly on returning our bottles. Its not huge dollars, but it’s money for jam. Additionally due to the set up of the scheme you might as well do it as you are paying for the scheme through increased drink prices.

We additionally make money from recycling metal that my husband picks up from his side hustle business. This is infrequent but our last visit nabbed us $80 for recycling a heavy metal frame (it pays to know your recycling rates).

I track all my side hustle income in my Income and Expense Tracker.

What tips do you have for bottle recycling?

I separate my paid recycling items from my normal recyclables by placing these in a separate bin (similar to my garbage bin). I bought an additional bin for this purpose off of Gumtree for $10 many years ago. Having an additional bin is really handy as you can just load it in the car when it’s full, which makes dropping off and collecting the cash at the deposit centre a breeze.

Not everyone around you is going to want to take part in this scheme, and that’s okay. If those close to you don’t participate I recommend taking the opportunity to ask them if they would collect them for you, provide them a bin, and pick them up when full.

Also don’t be afraid to pick up a can / bottle off the side of the road. It’s helping yourself, and helping the environment.

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Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov on Pexels.com

5 Back to School Savings Hacks

School costs can always be counted on for increasing each year so I’m sharing my top back to school savings hacks. Feel free to add yours in the comments below.

  1. Don’t automatically use the recommended school book list retailer

As I discovered this year it doesn’t always pay to go with the school recommended book retailer. I found this out by accident when I missed the ordering deadline, and had to seek an alternative. I ended up finding out that Officeworks allow you to upload your school book list online so you don’t even need to come into the store. They then pack the items and these can be delivered to your door (or you click and collect). By selecting the alternative option we saved $60 which was then diverted to paying for a new laptop bag. It’s worth doing the sums.

  1. Buy the basic school uniform first

It’s tempting to buy everything in one go at the Uniform Shop to save time, but I have found that by buying everything up front I often ended up overbuying items. Eg buying too many long pants when my son’s only wanted to wear shorts and so on. So now I only buy a basic set of uniform items to get them started for the year, and add to it throughout the year as needed. This hack also helps me spread the cost of uniforms throughout the year.

  1. Work out what you can purchase outside of the uniform shop

Now I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but its worth investigating and seeing what items don’t have to be purchased from the uniform shop. For us we have found that pants, shorts, socks, bags, and hats don’t need to be purchased from the uniform shop. We instead purchase these items from Kmart, Big W or Target. This has saved us a significant amount of money over the years given that the price difference between Uniform Pants and Kmart Pants is about $20-25 a pair.

  1. Buy good quality shoes, but make sure you don’t forget your cashback.

I’m a big believer in buying good quality footwear, and spending a little extra to get something that will go the distance. Something I’ve recently started doing is ordering my kids shoes online. In previous years this wasn’t something I would consider doing as I was concerned with sizing issues / and returns. These days I’ve found more and more shoe retailers are offering free and easy returns to allow people to shop for shoes in the comfort of their own homes. An added bonus of online shopping for shoes is being able to take advantage of cashback offers available at Shopback and Cash Rewards . I make sure to keen an eye on deals in the lead up to Christmas, and have received 10-20% back on my shoe purchases.

  1. Check out your local government entitlements.

It took me a couple of years to find out about the sports vouchers for kids program in my state, however now that we do know about it we make sure to use up our entitlements yearly.

All states except Victoria and the ACT offer rebates to Australian parents who enrol their children in recreational events outside of school. Information on these programs are available below.

I would love to know if you have any savings hacks you use. Feel free to comment below.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com