Friday, June 15, 2007

Buy in Bulk

I know it’s a cliche but buying in bulk really is a great way to manage your consumables and your costs. A lot of people focus on bulk food buying however then you encounter the problems of:
  • Where do I store the food
  • How quickly can I consume it before it perishes
  • Will I ever use the 100 cans of baked beans
I do buy in bulk however mainly non-food items such as:
  • toilet paper
  • shampoos, conditioners
  • soaps
  • detergent powder
  • nappies
  • deodorant
  • some canned foods such as tomatoes (I like to make my own Italian sauce)
The reasons I buy these type of goods are:
  • It saves me a lot of money
  • I can store most of these items outside of the house in the garage
  • It saves me time and energy when I do my weekly shopping trip as I don’t need to buy or carry and move them
  • I can buy some of the brands that I really like and still save a lot of money
  • I can save even more money on the no-brand products that I like
So one lazy Sunday afternoon I wrote a complete list of all the items that I buy for the house and family and chose the most suitable for bulk buying. I then did some research online, used the local papers and asked some friends if they knew of any outlets that sold in bulk and purchased as far in advance as my budget allowed. The next regular shopping trip was great because I didn't have to carry these items and could focus on buying best value for the rest of the shopping list.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Supermarkets Aren't Always Cheaper

When you have kids and need to do the weekly shopping it's generally easier to go to one place and complete all your shopping. Rather than visit many shops within a shopping complex I used to visit just one large supermarket thinking that as a supermarket chain I would be getting better and best prices.

Well one day I visited an Italian delicatessen looking for some cookies I couldn't find in the supermarket and whilst browsing I noticed that the pasta was much cheaper as well as the sauces and cheeses. I was shocked at the large difference in prices and after chatting to the proprietor discovered they were buying from specialist suppliers that could buy better than the supermarkets and pass those savings onto their customers.

That experience encouraged me to visit all of the specialist food stores in our local shopping complex and found some cheaper and some more expensive than the supermarket chain. Overall I was able to save between $10 and $50 dollars by buying from different shops. The only drawback is that it takes me an extra hour to complete the weekly shopping task but the money savings are well worth the effort.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Another Bill - Don't panic !

I used to panic when a bill arrived because we usually didn't have the money in the bank and had to pay by credit card. By the time we paid that bill off the next wave of bills arrived. No more thanks ! We sat down and tried to work out the best way to put aside money for our expenses without spending it before the next expense needed clearing.

Firstly, we pulled out the previous bills for the last 12 months and calculated the totals and divided by 52 weeks to give us our base weekly expense figure. Mainly the big ticket items such as:
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • House Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Medical Insurance
  • School Fees
  • Land Rates/Tax
  • Telephone
Once we had this figure $X we added an extra $20 for variation and increases. We then opened up one of those online only, high interest savings accounts and linked it to our transaction account where our wages are deposited. Each week after our wages were deposited an automatic transaction transferred a set amount into the high interest account.

The money was moved straight away so we didn't miss it as such. Now bills usually come every quarter so this savings account has the chance to build up enough money to cater for the expenses and also earn a nice rate of interest before the next bill arrives. When it does arrive now I don't panic. I simply transfer the precise amount into our transaction account the day before payment and clear the expense online.

This savings account also provides us with a buffer in case of unforseen or additional expenses. We don't withdraw anymore than what is required and if we have enough in our transaction account to clear a bill I won't touch the money at all. The automatic transfer of the money straight after we're paid is what really helps us save. Scared of bills no more !