Nine money mistakes you're probably making (and how to fix them)

September 22, 2015
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It’s pretty hard parting with your head-earned dollars when you have to spend on daily necessities, but there’s nothing worse than completely squandering them when you don’t have to. The good news is that there are plenty of life hacks that can save you a bit of coin – you just have to make a few tweaks to your day to day.

Eating takeaway

No fast food will ever be cheaper than the food you can easily cook at home. Being lazy or scared of the kitchen is no excuse when you can buy 10 kilos of rice for just 20 bucks. Google some easy recipes and you're set, and while you're at it, make your food fancy.

Getting your coffee from a cafe

The mark-up on coffee is ridiculous, so stop wasting money on overpriced foam. Take your home made coffee or tea wherever you go and make café versions a treat.

Getting pre-drunk, not pre-tipsy

I know it seems like you can save loads of money by drinking heaps before you go out, but tread with caution. In my humble experience, I find that when I pre-drink heavily, I get too drunk and end up spending with reckless abandon. When I'm only tipsy, I'm much more money-conscious.

Also, a shorter pre-drinks means leaving the house earlier and avoiding those hefty entry fees.

Giving expensive gifts

It’s hard to buy presents for friends and family at the best of times, and let’s be honest, we all get presents we never end up using. The beauty of a thoughtful present over an expensive one is that, whether they like it or not, you haven't wasted any money. Before you buy another expensive birthday gift, have a little brainstorm about something cheap (but from the heart) you can give to your family and friends.

Keeping your change loose

Impulse buys are hard to resist at the best of times, especially when you have loose change lying around. So, every time you get home, throw your loose change in a jar. Those coins can't be spent on impulse buys and will never go missing under the couch.

Paying bank fees

As a student, you probably shouldn't be paying certain bank fees. Many banks have some sort of concession, so you may as well take advantage of it. You just have to call your bank and say you're a student to avoid most standard fees. Also be sure to flash that student card and loudly declare your full fee-paying status.

You might not see these kinds of savings again until you're a pensioner.

Buying new clothes

If I told you there was a shop where clothes are significantly cheaper (and only a little weirder), you'd probably shop there. Head to your nearest op shop and prepare to be shocked by just how cheap the wares are. Hot tip: take advantage before time completely runs out on wearing ironic hipster clothes.

Sticking to brand names

There's a time and a place to buy brand names, especially when it comes to food. Check the ingredients list and see if there really is a difference to the product, not just to the packaging.

When it comes to medication, pharmacists often ask, “Is the generic option OK?” It’s not only significantly cheaper, but the generic option is also “equivalent in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, bioavailability and intended use”. A pretty strong case for generic, but it’s best to chat to your doctor first.

Buying new textbooks

It seems a bit ridiculous (and wasteful) to buy your textbooks new. Check out your uni’s textbook exchange, or see if it’s available on an online textbook marketplace. Alternatively, if you only need the book as a one-off, see if your uni library has it.

Sam Talbot

Sam Talbot is a law and media student at the University of Adelaide. He highly values all-day breakfasts. Twitter with him @SamTalbot5.

Image: Marina, Flickr Creative Commons license