Five tips to cut your food bills

Five tips to cut your food bills

If cleaning out your fridge each week supplies you with a steady diet of frustration and guilt, as well a pain in the hip pocket, then consider this: Australians waste an estimated 4 million tonnes of food annually.

Up to 40 percent of the average kerbside garbage bin is food; that’s equivalent to 178 kilos, and over $1000, per person every year in the bin, according to the Foodwise campaign.

As hard as that loss is for your budget to handle, it’s even harder on the environment; consider the water and energy required to grow food, and the fuel used to transport it. Then when food rots in landfill it gives off a greenhouse gas called methane, which is 25 times more potent than the carbon pollution that comes out of your car exhaust.

But you can stop the flow from fridge to trash by simply buying things that you’ll eat and enjoying them before they spoil. These tips will help you to save money, cut back on how much you toss and curb the 5 o’clock “what’s for dinner?” panic.

Strategize before you shop

Planning doesn’t have to be a rigid, complicated task; if a magnetic notebook stuck to your fridge works, have it. If you want to plot your dinners with a meal planner, then go for it. For a more casual approach, look at your upcoming week and subtract any nights you won’t be home for dinner then figure out when you’ll eat leftovers or grab take-away meals. For the remaining nights, jot down recipes or simply plan the protein component for each meal before you shop. Shopping online for your groceries can help you to avoid impulse buys and keep an eye on how much you’re spending.   

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Organise your fridge

To keep your refrigerator from becoming the graveyard where celery goes to die, keep stock of what’s on the shelves. When you buy new groceries, borrow a trick from the supermarkets and rotate older items to the front; if you see them, you’re more likely to use them. As items near their use-by date, move them to a “use it up” shelf, so you remember what needs to be eaten soon.

Shop at a local farmers’ markets

As cook and television presenter Maggie Beer says: “think local and think seasonal” when shopping. Using local farmer’s markets is one of the best ways to not only ensure low food miles, but also fresher food options.

Or grow your own!

Having a vegetable patch within a few metres of the kitchen certainly leaves a very small footprint. Not only does it mean your family will be eating some of the freshest produce available, it also allows the opportunity to recycle food scraps to a worm farm in order to use their manure in compost.

Put the season in a jar

Preserving in times of plenty is one of the most effective guards against waste. Knowing how to make jams, sauces, chutneys and pickles means you’ll never throw out veggies again – or your hard-earned cash!

For more information about where to park your extra money, compare savings accounts and then watch your money grow!

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Learn more about savings accounts

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details

How can I get a $4000 loan approved?

While personal loans and medium amount loans don’t offer guaranteed approval, there are steps you can take to help increase the likelihood of your application being approved, including:

  • Fulfilling the eligibility criteria (providing ID, proof of residency, proof of income etc.)
  • Checking your credit history (you can order one free copy of your credit file per year, and make sure that there aren’t any errors that may be bringing down your credit score)
  • Comparing carefully before applying (making multiple loan applications can mean having your credit checked multiple times, which can look bad to some lenders and reduce your chances of being approved by them)

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.