10 creative money saving tips

We've all heard the saying: take care of the dollars and the millions will take care of themselves.

So we're not going to worry about the millions - instead, we're going to show you how to make those dollars add up. A little here, a little there, and the next thing you know, you've got enough to book that holiday you were hoping for. Here are 10 of the coolest and most creative ways to save.

1. Save those sachets

You know those little sachets of condiments that you get for free at fast food joints, cafes and some takeaways? If you collect a few each time and pocket them away, you'll always have some on hand when you need it, without paying a cent. That goes for sauces (tomato, BBQ, mayonnaise, etc) as well as salt, pepper and sugar sachets. Soon enough, you'll never have to buy a whole container again.

Also keep one or two tomato sauce sachets tucked away in your bag or the glove compartment of your car. They don't take up much space, but they can save you money when you go to one of those pie or pastry shops that charge up to 50c a sachet. Do it up to 10 times and you'll have saved $5 already.

2. Cool ideas to stop heating up

On hot summer days when the weather is sweltering and temperatures are on the rise, you can cool down with these money and energy saving tips that reduce the need for constant air conditioning.

First, take a cold bath or shower before going to bed. This directly cools down your temperature and gives you a better night's sleep without cranking up your A/C all night. Or for a quicker cool-down, just put your feet in cold water for 10 minutes. Heat is lost most quickly through your extremities so this will make you cool and comfortable fast.

Secondly, especially during a heatwave, try putting a cool wash cloth gently around your neck. You can place this n the freezer for an hour or so before bed, and even dampen it a little beforehand so it stays cooler for longer. You could also opt for bedding made from natural fibres and keep your windows slightly ajar (with childproof locks on them) to let in some of the breeze. Good Living South Australia also suggests that keeping a small bowl of ice in front of a fan might help you beat the heat.

3. The 52 week money savings challenge

You may have heard of the 52 week money savings challenge on Facebook or Pinterest, but if you haven't tried it yet, here's how to get on board. Each week for 52 weeks (which of course amounts to a year), you save the dollar equivalent of the corresponding week.

  • Week 1 = $1
  • Week 2 = $2
  • Week 3 = $3
  • And so on, until week 52 = $52

At the beginning you won't even notice the missing dollar or two from your budget, and by the end you'll be so used to taking the money out before you spend it that it'll be second nature. Next thing you know, the year will be over and you'll have saved almost $1,400! Now that's an easy savings plan.

4. Follow the 3 C's

It's easy:

1. Cash over credit card: When you have to actually fork out cash instead of just swiping your card, you become more aware of how much you're really spending. And if you're worried about all those reward points you could miss out on, just think instead that you could be saving far more than the value of the reward points. Instead of spending thousands on your credit card for free movie tickets, you could save enough for those tickets in a matter of weeks.

2. Compare : Before you spend your hard-earned money, you should always compare prices to make sure you're getting the best deal. To compare insurance, Choosi consultants can compare a range of insurance policies and prices to help you find a better deal, whether you're looking for business, life, health, funeral or pet insurance.

3. Create your own: Whatever you need, chances are you have the time and resources to make it yourself, and make it cheaper than you would've paid for it.

  • cook your own meals instead of buying taking away
  • make your own cleaning solutions - often all you need is a little vinegar and soap
  • make your own cards and gifts - it's more thoughtful and probably will be better appreciated
  • decorations - it's amazing what a little coloured paper and glue can do

If you're stuck for ideas, just head to Google. There's a huge amount of recipes, step-by-step instructions, images and inspirations to be found, just a simple search away.

5. Make your meals go further

Every night, cook a little extra and pack it away for lunch the next day. Not only do you save money that you would have spent on lunches, but you also have something easy and delicious to enjoy for lunch.

Cooking extra costs next to nothing, as you'll already have the ingredients on hand and just need to add a bit more into the pot. Anything you've got leftover that doesn't go to your lunch can be packed away and frozen for another day. When you're feeling a little lazy or just uninspired to cook, you can whip it out, pop it in the microwave and you'll have saved on the cost of takeaway.

6. Exchange grocery lists

If you find it hard to stick to your grocery list, do a list swap. What's a grocery list swap? It's when you find a friend who's willing to shop for you and vice versa.

Write a comprehensive list and give it to your friend, who will do the same and swap their list with yours. You each go out and shop for each other, buying only what's on the list and nothing else. When you unpack your bags, you'll find you have everything you need and nothing you don't - not that sneaky extra chocolate bar you couldn't resist or double packs of whatever was on special that you probably won't use.

7. Reuse and repurpose

The saying 'one person's trash is another one's treasure' can be taken literally as there are many websites and collectives that encourage people to swap items instead of buying things new. With a little elbow grease and ingenuity, you can turn a stained old 70s side table into an eye-catching piece of furniture that would've cost you hundreds in a store.

Try Freecycle, RecycleAustralia, Zilch or OzRecycle. You can check out the listings on offer and even post up your own stuff for free. Then check out Pinterest or other sites for inspiration when you're getting ready to turn that trash into something spectacular.

8. Stream fitness classes online

Did you know you can stream fitness classes online? Apart from the obvious advantages of wearing whatever you want, you'll save hundreds on gym fees while still getting the impact of instructor-led motivation.

Online classes mean you can work out when it suits you, rather than being dictated by the gym's set schedule. You can enjoy streamed classes at your own pace or join one in real time, so even in the comfort of your own home or office, you're still part of a larger class with a real instructor.

9. Use professionals in training

Every professional has to start somewhere, and usually that 'somewhere' is a training school or college. From dental work to haircuts and massages, qualified students are always looking for real life practice, and willing to offer their services much cheaper to get their training.

Look up training schools in your area and check out their prices - you'll be surprised how much you can save.

10. Use cash-back offers and coupons

Sign yourself up to bargain and discount websites that alert you to the latest offers from a range of vendors. Everyday you'll be alerted to new cash-back offers, coupons and vouchers for discounted goods and services, which can save you a serious pocketful of money. Some sites allow you to tick specific areas of interest so you're not inundated with offers you don't need, and you may even be able to choose how frequently you want to receive the offers (daily, weekly, monthly, etc).

You can also 'like' them on Facebook so you can check out their offers as they're posted in real time. Try OzBargain, Catch of the Day and Lasoo, for starters.