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5 ways to keep up with the rising cost of living

If rising interest rates and the soaring cost of pretty much everything has you worried, it’s time to take action.

Here are five things you can do right now to help you stay ahead financially.

1. Switch it off

Energy prices are out of control, so don't use a single watt more than you need to.

The first thing to do is remember to heat or cool yourself, not your home. That means in summer you might dress lightly in breathable fabrics like cotton or linen, close the curtains or blinds against the sun, sip on cold beverages, and take a cool shower when it all gets too much.

In winter, rug up by dressing in layers, open your curtains or blinds during the day and close them at night, block all draughts around doors and windows, and use a hot water bottle.

Other ways to cut down your energy bill include switching off appliances at the power socket, taking shorter showers and using low-wattage lamps instead of overhead lights. Naturally you also wouldn’t dream of leaving a light on in a room you just vacated…

2. Use it all

Food waste is a massive cost drain, so only buy what you need. While that’s easier said than done, planning your meals is the first step to making it actually happen. That way, you know exactly what you need to buy to make the meals you want to eat.

The first step is to check what you already have in the fridge and pantry and make those ingredients the basis of your plan. Use up leftovers by turning them into a new meal (or simply reheat them and enjoy them as they are). 

If you plan ahead a couple of weeks or more, you can also save money by buying many items in bulk. Just remember to be mindful of how you store your bounty so it lasts the distance. 

3. Negotiate everything 

Yes, everything means everything. Insurance, superannuation fees, bank fees, energy costs, mobile phone plans, internet fees, appliance price tags – don't just accept whatever your current providers want to charge. Do your research and find out what others are offering; websites like Canstar, Finder and iSelect make this a simple process.

Once you know what price you could get elsewhere, approach your current provider with a figure in mind. Be polite but firm when asking for what you want and you’ll most likely be met with a receptive audience. If you’re not, be prepared to move your business elsewhere. It’s actually a much easier process to change providers than you might think.

4. Cut down 

You don't have to give up the good life, but it's sensible to alternate 'luxury' with 'frugal'. So have the steak on Tuesday, but make it eggs on Wednesday.

Other ways to cut down with barely a ripple include:

  • Cancel any magazine or newsletter subscriptions you barely look at
  • Keep only one streaming platform for movies or television
  • Have a ‘no spend’ day once a week
  • Introduce a ’24-hour rule’ for any major purchases
  • Look out for discount vouchers or savings coupons
  • Only ever shop from a list

5.    Go without... for now

If the cost of living is really starting to bite, you need to bite back. That might mean putting off big-spend purchases like holidays, cars or appliances until things settle down. It helps to remind yourself that this is 'just for now, not forever'. 

Becoming more mindful of everyday spending is strangely addictive. Before long you might find yourself making a bit of a game of it. How long can you go without eating a meal out? How quickly can you save $X if you save all your $10 notes? What’s the minimum you can spend to make a delicious meal?

While paying more for everyday things isn’t fun for anyone, still managing to save money in the middle of an inflation crisis certainly can be!