Quick tips on freeing up cash for December by Emma

Ho, ho, ho, it’s Christmaaaaaas! Which for most of us loosely translates as ‘no no no, it’s time to spend two week’s wages on poorly thought out gifts for people because society says so’.

I feel ya.

I’ve just moved into my own apartment with my partner (that is, not our first rental together. I mean our first ‘I love you enough to get a 30 year shared debt’ together home). So it’s probably no surprise to you that moving in right before silly season wasn’t exactly ideal for my finances. I’ve been heading up camp first home buyer for almost a year now, and I’ve become preeeeetty good at saving – if I do say so myself.

Look, there are times when the wheels came off, sure. And by ‘wheels came off’ I mean they came right off and I tumbled credit card first into Country Road and spent more than I should have on more than three occasions.

But, here we are. I’m not a saver by blood – I’ve been spending big since I first got my hands on my own 50p for doing the dishes. But through a lot of trial and error, I managed to find a few ways to cut back expenditure and see the savings add up over time. Saving is a bit like dieting – I’m impatient, and very much all-or-nothing. In short, I’m either stashing my wages and eating kale or I’m hanging shopping bags on the crook of my arm to free up my hands for anything deep fried.

I thought I’d share a few tricks I’ve learned in the past year that’ll help free up some extra cash this Christmas. The best part is, you can save $1000 by only making sacrifices for one short month!

Switch to instant coffee

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m not the first person to tell you to give up your daily soy latte. But seriously, if you can cut back for just a month – even just on weekdays, you’ll see the savings add up. You can currently snap up a tin of Nescafé Gold Barista Style (read: as good as it gets when it comes to instant coffee) for $7.50 at Coles. That’ll make you about 50 cups – that’s $0.15 a cup! Better than $4.50, eh? If you really can’t tolerate simple instant coffee, grab one of these syrups for $4 to sweeten the deal, or make a DIY latte by heating milk of your choice in the micro or the pan (or a frother if you have one) and mixing 1 tsp of the instant with hot water. It’s not quite your barista standard, but you can’t argue with the savings.

The best bit: in hot weather, instant coffee tastes just as good as barista coffee when it’s in an iced latte. Throw a heap of ice, a shot of instant coffee and milk of your choice into a cup and BOOM – you’ve got yourself a simple, super cheap summer cooler FOR NUTIN’.

Say you give up 2 coffees a day for 4 weeks (only on weekdays – weekends you can still hit up your fave café) – that’s $9 a day, 20 days in total.

Savings: $180

Trial meal delivery services

Hello Fresh, Marley Spoon, YouFoodz, Chef Good – you name it, heaps of these meal delivery services have intro offers or refer a friend offers. For example, you can get $50 off HelloFresh here. That’s almost 3 meals for two people, absolutely free. You can get $35 off Marley Spoon with a bunch of codes flying around at the moment, and often you can earn yourself refer a friend credits when you tell your mates. Do everything in the right order and you can save yourself heaps on your weekly shop for December.

Week 1: $50 free food from Hello Fresh

Week 2: $35 free food from Marley Spoon

Week 3: Get another $50 free food from Hello Fresh by telling a mate.

Week 4: $25 free food from Chef Good.

Savings: $160

Pause your gym membership + get a free app

Assuming you have a gym membership – which most of us seem to. Let’s face it – none of us are losing any weight in December. It’s silly season, our bosses are practically pouring gin down our necks during the morning meeting, and there’s friends and fam catch ups left right and centre. Just embrace your Christmas kilos and pause your gym membership for the month – most gyms will let you freeze your membership for a few weeks at a time. You’ll give your body a well-earned break, take the pressure off, and save yourself some buckaroonies in the process. If you’re still keen to get your heart rate up over the festive season, download an app called Seven. You can pay for more workouts but the base version is free, and gives you access to a few 7 minute HIIT circuits that involve no equipment. Save your gym dollars and squeeze in a few of these circuits when you can.

Depending on gym cost, ranging from about $18 per week for basic gyms up to $66 a week for F45 style studios: savings = min. $72, max. $264

Switch your phone plan

It’s Christmas – we’re winding down to the end of the year and spending more time scrolling Insta, partly for Christmas gift ideas and partly for hilare memes to make your work pals snort-laugh.

Either way, I’ve gone over my data plan this month. Hey there $20 extra bucks on my bill. If you’ve got the freedom to change plans – many of us do these days – hop on online chat while you pretend to your boss you’re sending a very serious email, and ask if you can change your phone plan to get more data. Just recently Optus offered me 15GB of data for the same price I’m currently paying. No more data splurges for me.

Savings: $20 (at least!)

Fill your freezer with cheap junk food

Probably the worst thing I’ve ever advocated, but hear me out. As I said earlier, none of us are losing weight this Christmas – unless of course you’ve got serious willpower, and if you do I strongly suggest you get a personality transplant because trust me, I’ve been there. Sacrificing fun for the sake of weighing 5kg less AIN’T WORTH IT. I’m chunkier but boy am I funkier this Christmas.

So, fill your freezer with junk food. I’m talking real nostalgic junk food. Potato gems, chicken dippers, frozen spring rolls, party pies, Magnums, Ben & Jezza – the lot. Spend about $50 on stock-up treats for your freezer, and trust me, it’ll save you a fortune when you can’t be arsed to cook.

December throws all sorts at us. The ‘I’m so tired preparing for the Christmas break’ evening when you seriously can’t be arsed to whip up that kale salad. The ‘it’s SO FUCKING HOT BRB WHILE I CLIMB INTO THE FREEZER’S INTERNAL MECHANISM’ evening when nothing and nobody can get you to make a dinner higher than a 2 on the effort level scale. The ‘I’ve been Christmas shopping for hours and been elbowed in the face four times’ evening when all you want is to collapse in front of Pointless and let the sweet sweet smell of chicken dippers and potato smilies fill your nostrils.

Your DIY garbage meals will save you about $50 every time you fancy ordering a cheeky Uber Eats or Deliveroo Feed – plus, it might be marginally healthier when you factor in the oven-baked-ness and the lesser chance of over-ordering.

Let’s say you have two ‘fuck it’ nights per week in December – $100 per week.

Savings = $400

Total savings with Emma’s master plan: $848 (based on a $22 p/w gym membership freeze)

You, my saving-savvy pals, are WELCOME! Enjoy the savings!

Big thanks Emma check her out here ladies.