5 of our favourite ways that we save money

By | May 21, 2017

Author: Mr & Mrs DDU.

Accommodation – living in the 70s

Where people live is usually their biggest expense. At the moment, we are spending around 20% of our annual income on rent. All Australians can understand that finding good value accommodation is very difficult.

We live on the edge of our city, in a place that was built in the 70s and still has lots of the wonderful features such as orange carpets, an orange kitchen bench and lovely yellow glass. It doesn’t have air conditioning (not fun in the Australian summer) and the kitchen is tiny.

We can afford a better, more modern place that’s closer to the city, but we live near the train station and the combination of compromises means we are saving literally thousands of dollars every year.

Transport – 1 car family

Cars are expensive. The petrol, registration and insurance alone annually would probably cost Mr DDU double what his annual public transport fee costs to use the train to get to work. But of course, the biggest expense is the deprecation of the car – even if we were to buy with cash, if we bought with a loan it would be even worse.

We plan on only having 1 car for the rest of lives, which saves us several car purchases over our lifetimes.

By only having 1 car and Mr DDU using public transport to get to work, we are saving thousands every year.

Food – Aldi

There is more to food than just how much it costs of course. FIRE shouldn’t influence anyone to eat like a college student just having ramen noodles or baked beans on toast every day. We want to eat healthily and we want good quality food for good value.

Australia is dominated by 2 large supermarket chains: Coles and Woolworths. A few years ago they had the biggest profit margins of any supermarket chain in the world. Australians didn’t really have much of a choice, the local supermarket was always a Coles or a Woolworths.

To us, it doesn’t matter if it’s a branded product or not. A brand just means it has more profit built into the price. If it’s a third cheaper at Aldi, just as good quality and (usually) made in Australia then that’s great for us and our budget. It’s just a piece of chicken, an apple or block of cheese. What’s the difference? What’s not to love?

Although Coles and Woolworths have reduced their prices recently, we still probably save at least 20% on each shop/item we buy at Aldi. If we had to briefly sum up a few tips on how we save on food shopping it would be:

  • Make a weekly meal plan & shopping list before going shopping. Stick to only what’s on the list. Those extra little purchases cost our budget, and are exactly what the supermarket wants.
  • Do 1 weekly shop. We save ourselves so much time and probably money too; there are less opportunities to pick up more random items.
  • Buy as much as we can from Aldi, it’s nearly always the cheapest. Buy any extras needed from Coles/Woolworths/IGA.

Entertainment

People like to spend a lot of money on one fleeting experience then look for the next one. Don’t get us wrong, we want to spend a lot of our money on fun things and travelling once we reach Financial Independence, but we want to save as much money as we can until we get there.

We like to do a lot of things that don’t really cost us much, if anything. We like to go on walks on the beach (free), watch recorded movies from the TV (free ( apparently it’s an Australian thing)), go on road trips (only cost is petrol), play our Xbox together with games we already own (free).

We do spend money sometimes but we’re making a conscious choice to mostly do inexpensive things and funnel our money into saving and investing instead.

Shopping

Like we mentioned with food, brands don’t really mean much to us, as long as the product is pretty good quality and good value.

We will happily buy things from Aldi, Best & Less, Kmart, IKEA, 2nd hand from Facebook groups etc. before looking at more expensive options if we can’t find what we’re looking for.

A hoodie, plates, a torch, baby things. Those are all things we’ve bought in the last 2 or 3 weeks from one of the above shops and they’re great quality. Products from more expensive shops are also good, but we’re trying to be bargain hunters at this point in our lives, Mrs DDU is awesome at finding us the best possible bargain.

Final thoughts

All of the above choices probably save us at least around $7,500 to $10,000 a year, which can compound into big dollars over the years and decades ahead.

Our lives could probably be a little more comfortable (eg renting a house with air conditioning or a dishwasher) if we spent more, but we’re not missing out on much. The only thing we want is perhaps a portable air conditioner so our baby doesn’t have to suffer in 40C+ days.

What are some of the choices you make to save money?

Thanks for reading this article about our finance journey Down Under.

Onwards and upwards!

18 thoughts on “5 of our favourite ways that we save money

  1. Passivecanadianincome

    Cricky! Good list. Big sacrifices no ac? Haha no way.we are in the process of cutting cable so that’s one way we cut. Also buy cheap clothes vs brand names now. And groceries from cheaper places and price match. Walmart has good groceries and we are thinking of ordering online and just picking up the stuff. They pack it all and it’s free this way we won’t get any distraction add ons. Haha

    Reply
  2. Dividend Diplomats

    DDU –

    I think you hit it on the head with covering shelter, transportation & food. My favorite is the entertainment piece. Usually we like to have people over or go over someone else’s house – bringing in a snack we have made and/or a drink of our choice. By FAR cheaper than going out somewhere, or eating out. Also – it’s more fun, intimate and you get to control what you drink, eat and spend : )

    -Lanny

    Reply
  3. FerdiS

    All the ways you’re saving make lots of sense, but I would draw the line at trying to live without an A/C in 40 degrees Celcius temperatures. Spare yourselves the misery and buy the portable A/C!

    Happy saving and investing!

    Reply
  4. Martin - Get FIRE'd asap

    We follow many of the same examples you list to keep expenses down (except having 2 cars). Re the shopping ones, that’s exactly what we do. Plan a weekly menu, write a list covering only what food items we need, and do the majority of our shop at Aldi. I agree that this saves us at least 20% on our grocery bill each week. Our weekly bill would be around $85 for two adults.

    I read with interest the comments about not having ac. We do have ac which is considered a must living in Queensland. However, it would have been used, maybe 3 times, in the last summer. We open windows and sliders and keep the place ventilated. Also, by naturally adapting to the temperature we just feel the effects less even when it does hit 40C. The only time we used it is when the humidity became unbearable.

    I say if you can do without the ac, whether by choice or not, good on you. Our neighbour’s ac was running 24 hours a day during summer. Their power bill must have been huge.

    Reply
  5. Wealth From Thirty

    Props to you guys. That’s awesome you’ve really got your savings in those big areas. I’m surprised “hoodie” is an internationally recognised term(!) haha.

    Keep it up!

    Reply
  6. Amanda @ centsiblyrich

    This is a great list! And great savings. We could definitely be saving more on housing and transportation…and are looking at the options of downgrading both after the kids are out on there own in approximately 4 years or so.

    I think it’s great you guys have been able to make it work without the a/c, but I can definitely see how a portable unit is something you want for the baby.

    Reply
  7. Jax

    I wish I could get Mr. BL on board with no AC! He spends more time at home than I do, so it’s something I’ve let go of. I do suggest opening the house back up when the overnight lows are reasonable and he goes along with that!

    Reply
  8. Bella

    For us in Melbourne it’s the opposite. It would cost my partner $10 a day to catch public transport and it adds an extra hour to her overall commute. Driving her paid-off car however costs cents a day, certainly not $10 when we factor in rego and insurance. We have to have that second car at this stage in our lives (kids with grandparents far apart force us to) and it might as well be driven.

    I have a similar commute problem with public transport taking twice as long and costing $5 a day. I got around it by buying a motorcycle and cruising through traffic!

    Reply
  9. pia

    Can’t live without the AC. We do have solar, but are quickly learning that without the government incentives, what we earn from Solar is pretty terrible. Time to save up for a battery!

    It’s hard when it comes to grocery shopping. Being in SA, there is a huge love for our local food industry and I am always a strong believer of supporting our little boutique producers which tends to attract a slightly higher price (and a more quality product) compared to the big supermarket chains and their constant price wars. So while we can obtain fresh vegs at very attractive prices, things like cheese and pickles attract a premium. I guess it’s a matter of balancing!

    Reply
  10. J @ Hey, It's Just Money!

    We are similar in many ways. We also don’t spend a lot of money in entertainment. We like driving around, but petrol is probably the most expensive part of it. We rarely eat out when we drive, if we do, it’s only for a snack. We also only watch the movies when we have free or cheap tickets. Haha! Instead of Aldi, we buy most of our food from the markets. We don’t have a big freezer, so we only buy what we’ll eat during the week. We also buy our toiletries and other non-perishable from Costco.

    Great stuff, guys!

    Reply
  11. Buy, Hold Long

    Saving that money now could mean massive returns in the future for you and your future baby. Congrats on the savings. There is apparently an Aldi coming close to where I live in rural SA so I am very pleased. Otherwise we just have Woolworths. No competition at all.

    Reply
  12. Investing Novice !

    OOOoohhh. I always love a post about how to save money. Definitely have done everything you guys have outlined here in this post even with the AC, I just sweat it out in the summer just simply because I don’t want to pay the extra money for electricity haha. Thx for you guys 2 cents !

    One question I have is when you guys buy shares for e.g. with 500 dollars. One share priced at 70 dollars vs one priced at 5 dollars per share. If your goal is to have max dividend income doesn’t it make more sense to buy the 5 dollar share price more often as you get more shares relative to the other since dividends are payed PER SHARE for 500 dollars each time and if shares, on average, increase in price each year doesn’t that 500 dollars’ purchasing power (in terms of number of shares bought) gets less and less? This unanswered question which I cant find much info on really makes me hesitate to understand how its possible to generate that 40k/yr dividend income. What is the reason?

    Anyways, just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for you blog as it’s rare to find a Australian dividend investing blog as down to earth and informative as yours which gives greater hope for an “average” Joe to see the potential of dividend investing. Really appreciate it.

    All the best, D

    Reply
  13. Dividend Daze

    All great ways and that pretty much sums up the big categories for everyone. That is a substantial amount you can potentially save per year. Nice having that much extra capital you can use for investing and work for you.

    Reply
  14. Jen Forest

    We don’t have air-conditioning either and in an Aussie summer that can be pretty tough. But frankly you’ve got to weigh up how many days are actually 40C and how much it will cost. Plus there are plenty of places to hang out with airconditioning – like work, the local library, museums….

    Reply
  15. Undergrad Investing

    Still trying to convince my girlfriend to let us start shopping at Aldi. I wonder how it got such a bad rap. Great list though, with some handy hints

    Reply
  16. Joe

    It’s nice to see someone making the same choices I have, including the 70s housing and shopping at Aldi!

    One thing I’d recommend, if you can do it, is convert your car to LPG. FIlling up only for $30 every fortnight (instead of $80) pays for itself pretty quickly.

    Reply
    1. Dividends Down Under Post author

      Hi Joe, thanks for coming by our blog! we should start a 70s home living club! compare our horrible decor haha.

      Great tip about converting the car to LPG – it would really save on the costs for people who drive a lot. We hardly drive at all, with Mr DDU commuting by public transport and I work from home. So the car is usually about $40 a fortnight for us, probably not worth the hassle of converting to LPG considering how little we drive. But is definitely one of those little gems of “hacking” that can save a lot of money in the right situation – sounds like you’ve got a great frugal mind 🙂

      Mrs DDU

      Reply
  17. Kathleen

    Aldi has made such a difference in our grocery bill, even for just the two of us. And I find because there is less to choose from I am done with the grocery shopping in record time, rather than browsing every single isle.

    Reply

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