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Cutting costs in a sky-high economy

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We're all feeling the pinch right now and working out ways to save a few bucks (Image via Flickr - edited)

As inflation hits us all, Mick explains to Bazza how to cut costs over a few expensive beers.

Bella, the publican, twirled Mick’s senior discount card through her finger and shook her head.

Mick rifled through his pockets for shopping vouchers, turned them over and laid them out in front of the two schooners.

“Not a chance, Mick. Try your luck at the barber if you want a discount.”

A very grim Alan Kohler presenting the ABC finance report on the television had Mick scowling, as he let the two schooners guide him to the bar table.

Bazza unfolded his arms, nodded at Mick and took a long sip.

“Prices are through the roof, Bazza. Now, I’m not blaming Albo – yet – but inflation is out of control. It’s way beyond just iceberg lettuces. I mean, people are even bringing their own avocados to smash onto their toast when dining out for breakfast.”

Mick sucked in a breath and lowered his voice.

“I’ve had to introduce a number of measures at home, Bazza, to cut down on costs.”

He leaned in.

First up, the electricity bill. I’ve researched the power usage of all the electrical appliances and lined up usage, in accordance with the sunlight projections, on a daily basis. I’ve installed an alarm system with different sounds as reminders to turn on the dishwasher, washing machine and the dryer.


For example, the most efficient time to boil the kettle for a cup of tea was at 11:57 AM yesterday. I’m having a bit of trouble training up the household to the new regime. There is an app I can check to measure consumption if I am out, but I do seem to be spending a lot of time ringing home to lay down the rules.

Mick flipped open his iPad and ran Bazza through a range of spreadsheets with various colour codings. He then overlaid the presentation with hourly weather predictions over the next seven days. There were green bars and bright red bars and an alarm sounded intermittently.

Bazza shook his head and took a very long sip.

Next up, grocery shopping, Bazza. I now take a step ladder to the supermarket these days, to buy the products higher up. They are always cheaper. I am also travelling to Canberra to buy products in bulk once a fortnight and am renting the neighbour’s spare shed to store toilet rolls, washing powder and enough muesli to get us through to Christmas. On top of that, I have purchased a giant freezer to store meats when they are on special. I reckon I am saving a fortune.

Mick paused for a drink and Bazza half grinned.

“You are right on top of all this cost cutting, Mick. You should take note that the cheapest fuel is 50 kilometres south of here.”

Mick tightened his eyes and had both elbows on the table.

“That’s called a false economy, Bazza. You need to think these things through.”

An extended pause.

“Right then, Mick, I am following your logic. If you include your hourly rate, how much has all this economising cost you?”

Mick replied:

“A bloody fortune, Bazza. A bloody fortune to get it right.”

John Longhurst is a former industrial advocate and political adviser. He currently works as an English and History teacher on the South Coast of NSW.

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