Spring is here! The birds are chirping, flowers are blossoming and the sun’s rays are shining in the window, showcasing all the dust that has gone unnoticed (ok, ignored) for the last six months. Spring is all about renewal and refreshment so there is no better to time to re-assess your life and all those little savings habits you’ve (ok, I’ve) become lax about.
What’s in there? If you’re anything like me, your wallet is a cornucopia of oddities. Safety pins, paper clips, band aids and bus tickets, does it really all need to be there? Remove everything and start again, being sure file away receipts, close and cut up any unnecessary credit cards and diarise the expiry dates of any credit vouchers you may have.
While you’re filing away the receipts from your wallet, now is the perfect time of year to being a new tax filing system. Remember how stressful it was trying to wade through your random assortment of papers last month? Don’t do it again! This year, commence a system of filing all tax deductable receipts into a clearly labelled shoebox and start a folder for all your important documents. You’ll be glad you did it next year, trust me.
A good budget is important but it’s only helpful if it’s accurate. Incomes and expenses alter frequently as rates and personal needs change. Take a good look at your budget and re-calculate your sums. When I looked at mine, I realised I had $40 a fortnight allocated to a gym membership I’d cancelled four months ago. What had I been doing with that $40? Absorbing it into my luxury spending! A little tweaking and now that $40 goes straight into my Christmas savings fund instead of onto my feet in the form of pink stilettoes that I can’t walk in anyway.
Speaking of stilettoes, this is a really great time to re-evaluate your wardrobe too. Now that the darkest days of Winter are past us, you can pull out all your coats and jumpers. Did you wear them this year? If not, it might be time for them to go. I like to hang my unworn items on the cupboard door and commit to working them into an outfit during the next week. If, after seven days, I can’t bring myself to wear them, they go onto eBay or into the charity bin.
You may well wonder how giving things to charity benefits your budget and it’s a fair question. In truth, it doesn’t, but it helps somebody else’s budget when they find a bargain in an op-shop that saves them buying brand new. Sometimes, just reminding ourselves of how much we already actually have when others have so little is good inspiration to reign in the spending… and it gives you the warm fuzzies too so technically, that’s free kicks!
I know you both have a whole heap of stuff in your bathroom cabinet you don’t use. Hairspray, shampoo samples, eyeliner… and I’m not just talking to the girls here either! A couple of weeks ago, I spoke about Project 10 Pan and I’ll mention it again because it really is such a great idea. Pick ten cosmetic items you haven’t used for a while (nothing that’s expired, lumpy or smells funny… that can just go in the bin). Now, commit yourself to using up all of those products before you buy another superfluous grooming item.
Next, make your way over to the medicine cabinet. I did and I couldn’t believe how many half consumed boxes of paracetamol and cough mix I had! Too often, we get sick, buy a treatment, get better and stuff said treatment in the back of the cupboard. Keep your little drug collection organised and next time you feel the sniffles coming on, you won’t blow your cash, just your nose.
Fess up; what obscure oddments lurk in the depths of your pantry? Middle-Eastern spice rub from the farmer’s markets that you’re not sure how to use? Spiced nuts you stocked up on in the post-Christmas sales but then forgot to eat? Five-year-old tinned prawns the origins of which are uncertain at best? No, wait… that’s my pantry. The shame! Well, be ashamed no more, for the time has come to eat them all! Ok, I don’t recommend eating them all together, but any food not consumed by its use-by date is waste and that’s money in the trash.
Make up a chart of what perishable foods you have both in the fridge and the pantry, what quantity and when they are due to expire. Now think of meals you can cook to use up those ingredients. If you’re stuck for ideas, type a few ingredients in to a website like SuperCook or Taste to suggest dishes that will use them. If you’re really bitten by the organising bug (as I am) you can record the dishes in your diary to ensure you cook them before the relevant use-by date. By using up what you already have in your cupboards you should spend less on groceries at the shops.
The next time you’re shopping for groceries or anything for that matter, remember how much of a pain in the backside it will be to clean it, care for it, use it all or store it properly. If you already have a house overflowing with junk, chances are the money’s better off in the bank.