Here's a picture of our view of Mt Barney from the Camper Trailer which is on site that we hired for 2 nights last week.
First of all if you do not own "The Barefoot Investor" book I highly recommend you purchase it immediately. I wrote a bit about it in this post. This is the book you need to purchase for anyone in your family whether they are a teenager or someone with a mortgage and a job. It is easy to read and easy to implement and understand. It's about managing money, setting up systems and being in control of your money. When I went to put a hold on this book at the library there were 598 holds so my advice is just to buy it. I purchase all my books from The Book Depository which has great prices and free postage. I have been buying books from them for the past 8 or so years.
Another great way of incidental saving is to never spend a $5 note. Every time you get one put it away in an envelope for your holidays or Christmas presents and extra Christmas food. This is really simple and you won't notice when you remove $5 from your wallet. I've started doing this on the odd occasion with the new $10 note so I can be ready for next Christmas.
Have you heard of the 52 Week Money Challenge. I think this in theory sounds good however towards the end of the year the weekly $ is quite high so I haven't done this one myself past about Week 20. The image is a bit hard to read however the basis behind this is each week you add the amount of money to your jar/tin. ie Week 1 is $1, Week 20 is $20, Week 28 is $28 etc. If you google it you might be able to find a better copy to print out.
Food is another area that is costly and can be improved in terms of spending. There's the $21 a week grocery challenge that you can do once or twice a year. We all know that cans of food and meat in the freezer sometimes adds up and when meal planning we buy new things. Some people do a $30 week challenge however even $50 a week would be a big saving in what is your normal grocery bill. Meal plan using items in your pantry and freezer to use everything up. These days of cheaper pricing at places like Aldi etc and going to the supermarket once or twice a week there's no real need to stockpile as things come on sale every few weeks. With your limited budget say $21, $30 or even $50 you can buy milk, bread, fresh fruits to get you through the week. With your normal $100 or $150 that you saved put it on your mortgage or credit card or in your Christmas savings account. Doing this 4 times a year you could save $400 to $600 per year with little effort.
Electricity - the thing that is a household expense however at the same time it's a luxury these days. Managing not using the air conditioner, turning off lights etc. the bills just get higher and higher. In July there was a 30% increase and in January I believe there is going to be another increase of 10% or 18% I can't remember but it's ridiculous. I rang around all the suppliers on the 30th June 2017 to get the ex gst per kw amount so I could compare apples with apples with all suppliers regardless of their discounts. You have to know the base amount and then apply the discount it's not just about the discount. I was with Click Energy for the past 4 years and when I rang around I ended up staying with them however in September I rang around again and Alinta Energy was the best deal offering 25% discount and their base rate "ex gst per kw" was far cheaper so I switched immediately. They do it all for you and about 30 mins on the phone. You will get a final bill from your original supplier and then the next quarter get a new bill. My first bill in the July/Aug/Sept quarter was up by $100 just from the increase even though our usage hadn't really changed. Our bill was almost the same amount every quarter for the past couple of years so I was shocked by the increase.
This week got the new bill and the bill was $200 cheaper with the better rates and 25% discount applied to the bill. Click Energy discounts weren't on every bill it was after you had paid on time for a certain period and then the next bill they applied the discount. Alinta Energy is in Queensland so you would have to check what companies supply in your State. I allowed 30 mins with a notepad and rang each one and wrote down their daily rate ex gst, their per kw ex gst rate for peak and off peak and then their discount. These days there are no lock in contracts even though when they read the terms and conditions to you over the phone they say this is for 24 months do you agree it' still no lock in contracts. It's just that that rate will be for 24 months (unless of course they put it up etc). Just check but I'm thrilled with Alinta Energy.
Budgeting - I wrote a post in January 2016 on how I do this and have followed this system for over 20 years. When you are in control and know your income and expenses for the year in advance you can work out your goals.
The Australian Government has a Money Smart website with budget tips. It also has a "Net Worth" sheet for you to see your current financial position.
A great thrifty website is The Thrifty Issue with lots of great ideas on saving money.
My Abundant Life was featured on A Current Affair a few years ago. Their household income was $40,000 and they paid off their modest home, went on an annual holiday and grew some veggies.
Cath Armstrong from Debt Free Cashed up and Laughing blog has loads of helpful information on being frugal.
Frugal Woods is a young couple with a toddler and one on the way who have retired early in their 40's to Vermont and live in their dream home on acreage.
Root of all Good retired in 2013 at age 33 and their living expenses for the year are $40,000 and this year travelled with their kids to Europe for 9 weeks. Heaps of good information here too.
It's worth getting a cup of coffee and reading through some of these blogs as they are very inspiring.