We’ve all had that accidental splurge at the supermarket store. You know the one, you tell yourself you’ll ‘just pop by for some milk and bread’ and then find yourself doing the walk of shame with a trolley full of items you didn’t really need. By the time you’re at the register you’ve charged your credit card with a total well over expected.

It’s no wonder Australians owe a total of over $32 billion in credit card debt!

Grocery stores aren’t the only crime scenes. You may have spent a little too much on your children’s birthday gifts, bought one too many coffees this week or perhaps treated yourself a little too much with that clothing sale you simply couldn’t resist.

But with the average Australian household spending an estimated $69,166 on general living costs annually, the question stands; why do we spend so much of our life working if we don’t use our earnings in a way that will benefit us – and our family – in the long term?

So if you’re looking to maximise your finances and minimise the plastic, follow these smart household finance tips and ensure you aren’t compromising your family’s well-being along the way.

  1. Set a savings target: Start minimising your dependence on credit by building up your savings. Start by setting a comfortable savings target which works with your income and typical expenses. Meeting these targets will keep you motivated and regular saving will guarantee you have enough cash for the necessities and unexpected shortfalls.
  2. Create a budget and stick to it: Budgeting is always important but it must be feasible. By creating weekly or monthly budgets you will be more in control of your spending. First identify your fixed costs such as rent, bills and loan repayments. Set aside enough to meet your savings target for the month and then allocate reasonable amounts to other necessary fields such as groceries. Look to minimise your family’s entertainment and leisure spending, treating this as a reward following periods of notable saving.
  3. Create shopping lists: Ever shop when you’re hungry and come back with way too many groceries? We are often enticed by items on sale which can quickly rack up our bill. It’s a well-known simple trick but writing a list of everything you need before you go shopping and making sure the list falls under your budget.
  4. Pay less, pay cash: When it comes to your finances, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ should not be your mantra. Charging payments to credit and debit cards cause spenders to feel ‘less guilt’ as their loss is concealed. Where possible, pay with cash to ensure you are aware of your spending and aren’t using more than you have budgeted.
  5. Don’t credit school fees: Whilst this is all too common, putting your children’s school fees on credit will cause more harm than good. Anticipate upcoming payments and factor these costs into your budgeted savings in the months prior to make sure you can meet these obligations as they fall due.
  6. Shop around: When it comes to holiday gifting seasons or even the weekly grocery shop, research competitors to find the best price on products. In fact, the 2014 Westpac Christmas Finance Report found about 72% of shoppers saved by using their smartphone or tablet to price check while wandering the aisles in store to see if they could land themselves a better price elsewhere.
  7. Regularly monitor your finances: Finally, keep a check on how you’re tracking with your finances. Frequently check your statements, meet your loan repayments and regularly monitor your personal credit score (I use www.getcreditscore.com.au because it’s free!). If you have a stronger credit score you can negotiate better deals when you’re borrowing money in the future.

I’ve integrated these tips into my everyday household life, and I wish I’d started sooner! You don’t have to sacrifice everything to save money – you just need to think (and spend!) smarter.

You can thank me when you’re sipping martinis from your private yacht one day.

Do you have any other tips to add to the list that work for you? Please share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • When grocery shopping base your weekly meals on the specials for that week.


  • lists on your phone while you think of things during the day to add on there


  • Some wonderful ideas there, thank you for sharing :-)


  • Have just started watching my spending and am starting to save a few dollars a week for a rainy day. Thanks for your tips – I will incorporate them into what I’m doing.


  • think my chance of sipping coctails on my yacht is a bit advanced for me, just have to pay the bills successfully. it helps to have a list it is true but sometimes specials come into view so I have to recreate my list if the item is something cannot resist. At the moment fruit and nut packs are on special at local store so they are on my list as something that are good for me and I adore.So good if possible to bdget them in then it becomes a win/win


  • I do all this and try really hard to stick to my shopping list, one way i found that helped was to record the price of each item on my shopping list so I kind of knew what the cost was before I had finished, worked really well while we were in the roughest of days but I have been a bit lazy the last year


  • At the end of each day, empty your change (silvers will do) into a container, preferably not see-through (and keep it secret) and see how much you have accumulated at the end of each month. You’ll be surprised!


  • I try to buy clothes that mix & match, not only mine but the childrens’ clothes too. Some I am able to buy in colours that can be worn by a girl or boy, especially for everyday wear around home, just out & about or daycare. I watch for bargains in clothing and buy the next size if I know what I will need for them. I did misjudge size with some Tshirts but they were able to be worn under other clothes for extra warmth. That icludes under PJs for one child who insists on sleeping with his arms above his quilt, getting his chest exposed to cold air. Less coughs and colds since I started doing that. I honestly didn’t expect it to make any difference. Also T-shirts have sleeves where singlets don’t. Some are also longer in the body. I also discovered boys are often longer than girls – especially the sleeves – not only in Tshirts but skivvies, PJs etc. Sometimes boys are cheaper too, even if they are plain and the same colour. Talking to other Mothers, some of them had also noticed the same thing.

    • I forgot to include the fact that sizes vary between brands, and also some are tagged with the incorrect size labels. A few months ago I bought two hoodies the same brand. I later discovered one is larger than the other. Now I always check them.


  • Some great tips to try


  • all great tips, but at the moment, I really need some money that grows on trees :/


  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


  • We live week to week as we have so much debt and got in over our head when we both lost our jobs soon after having a last child.
    I have to budget week to week, so I always have a grocery list, and reguarly monitor our finances. I have a spreadsheet set up with all our bills and income and the date they come in or out of the account.
    Slightly worried about the increase to daycare expenses when I have to go back to work after our third child is born.
    Also concerned about the upcoming election and how that is going to negatively affect families.


  • Excellent tips. You have to be wise with your money. I’ve taught my kids to not give their money away its Their money you don’t want someone else benefiting from it. I feel we should be teaching kids in school how to budget and showing our kids where the household money goes. Kids should understand where the money goes. I never did this and I wished I had.
    A friend of mine went through a nasty divorce and she had the where with all to sit her kids down and explained the household budget to them to show what money they as a family had to live with.
    It really helped and stopped the kids asking all the time for extra money from her and as soon as they got to an age to work they did. All those kids are a credit to her today. Educated, working and financially secure.


  • Wise tips !


  • We have gotten rid of our credit cards and we have paid off our personal loan now it’s time to knuckle down and pay off our mortgage.


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