As the cost of living spirals ever upwards, more and more Australians are tap-dancing their way to financial oblivion. Our consumer-obsessed society has generated fabulous financial rewards for a small minority. Little surprise then that the gap between the rich and the poor is yawning ever wider.

The answer for many Australian is to get a grip on their spending. When your outgoings outpace your income, credit card distress and a downward spiral beckons. Many of us represent the working poor, in time as well as liquidity.

Here are some tips on saving money that doesn’t simply revolve around only travelling by public transport, shopping in seconds’ stores or developing an unhealthy infatuation with coupons. OK, that works for some of us but many of us are looking to save time and energy as well as our cold hard cash!

1. Australia’s Great Outdoors Going Cheap

Skip those expensive gym memberships. Try your hand at bushwalk, swimming or surfing. There are plenty of walking tracks around our cities and our beaches are free. Take in Australia’s natural beauty, enjoy some fresh air and work your way to a healthier future. Oh, and don’t forget to bring snacks and water from home. Its cheaper than buying it along the way!

2.  Tackle Food Wastage

Firstly, set out some simple menus that will yield enough meals to get you through the week. Secondly, only shop with a list to avoid those costly impulse purchases. Thirdly, at the end of each week, cook all your left-over ingredients into a few favourite recipes and freeze them into individual meals. Planning out your meals this way can save you serious money and time during the week. Leftovers are your friends and best of all, pre-prepared meals reduce the allure of expensive fast food for those late night meals.

3.  Be Smart About Your Laundry

Nearly everything you own can be washed effectively using the cold water cycle. This saves you energy and is even easier on your clothes. Even “dry clean only” garments can usually be gently hand washed or washed using the “delicate” cycle modern front-loading washing machine. Limit your dry cleaning needs to “press only” items such as trousers and jackets.

4.  Be Wardrobe Savvy

Cloths can be fun as well as practical but few of us are really wardrobe savvy. Map out an essential wardrobe and make you’re your items mix and match to provide you with a range of potential combinations. This will save you bucket loads of money, avoid you having to anguish over what to wear in the morning and even give the planet a boost. There is no such thing as “retail therapy”. Buy strategically, plan your wardrobe makeovers around the sales and buy online to save you the hassle of fighting your way through the crowds.

5.  De-Clutter Your Home Now!

Clutter equals baggage. Now some of that baggage is good but the rest simply dredge up negative emotions. Not only is de-cluttering your home great for your stress levels turning those unwanted items into cash can save you a bundle. Look for unused gift cards, unbanked cheques and lost small change. If there are items you no longer need or want sell them and donate the rest. Prime suspects include your closet, the kitchen, the garage and of course the shed.

6.  Save Your Spare Change

Smart apps such as Acorns can start you on the path to saving painlessly by sweeping any “virtual change” into an investment or superannuation account. If you buy something online for $23.70, you can opt to round your purchase up to $24 and have $6.30c deposited into your account. It’s amazingly effective and painless.

7.  Smart Tips For Home Buyers

Australia’s housing market can be a financial as well as an emotional roller coaster. One of the immutable laws of buying property is to “never bid against yourself!” When you make an offer on a property and the vendor rejects your offer, ask for a written counter-offer instead of simply upping your offer. Similarly shop around for your mortgage and never stop with the dreaded Big Four banks for your mortgage. If you’re refinancing your mortgage, ensure the 30 years duration doesn’t reset again, or you will pay more in interest over time. Instead, take a new mortgage that matches the remaining term on your existing loan. If you’re consolidating a personal loan or credit card debt into your mortgage, map out a repayment plan for the added debt. Your home loan rate may well be lower than a personal loan, but you will actually pay more in real dollars if the term of the loan extends over 25 to 30 years rather than the 10-year term of a personal loan.

8.  Avoid The Post-Christmas Blues

Most of us love giving gifts. However, set expectations and even clarify budgets up front, when it comes to birthdays and Christmas. If you have a large and ever-expanding family try only buying presents for the kids. If you have young children who receive a lot of birthday party invitations, try buying a supply of gender-neutral gifts at during the sales and keep them wrapped and ready to go.

9.  Avoid Faux Finance Offers

Buying a new car or consumer electronics on vendor credit always ends up costing you more in real terms. Shop around if you need to finance your new car and learn the difference between dealership and manufacturer finance. Buying your mobile phone handset is always far cheaper than paying for it through a contract and you end up being locked into that contract for longer! Shop around and look for the best deal featuring a fixed monthly fee with and no lock-in period.

10.  Find A Fabulous Mechanic

Australians have long enjoyed a love affair with our cars. That should stop when it comes to paying unnecessarily for repairs. If you car keeps breaking down, it may be time to look for a replacement. Auctions and repossessions ales are great alternatives to pick up a new set of wheels on the cheap. Similarly look for a solid local mechanic who can keep you on the road without needing a second mortgage to fund your car repairs. Sadly, mechanics at the major chains are usually on incentives to up sell you. Mobile mechanics can be a great option as they often work on flat fees for scheduled repairs.

Final Observation

So there are some simple ways to keep more of your hard-earned cash in your own pocket rather than lining someone else’s. If you want to start putting the brakes on your spending and start saving money, look to adopt simple pleasures. Go for a walk along the beach, have friends around for dinner rather than going out for an expensive meal, join a library rather than buying endless books or read your news online rather than taking out expensive subscriptions.