The Small Switch Challenge proves that tiny behaviour lane changes can bring big gains.
This Small Switch Challenge is exactly what it says on the tin: switch (or substitute) to a lower cost solution. The idea is that, with a little creative thinking, and a small change in the way you do things, you can save money.
Here’s how it works
Write a list of everything you spend money on (well, okay, some of the things you spend money on!). Now, consider whether you can make a more budget-friendly switch. Your switch doesn’t have to be huge – that’s why this is called the Small Switch Challenge, not the, ahem, big switch challenge… but if you can make a bigger switch, go ahead and do so!
Write the substitution down and (wait for it) action it. Try to keep up with your switches for a full month, then reassess. Some you’ll keep, others won’t feel worth it, but you’re guaranteed to save money overall.
You’ll be surprised at how many things you can easily save money on during the Small Switch Challenge. Here are just 10 ideas for substitutions you can try.
1. Switch your shopping
Switch where you do your shopping and save. Even if you don’t change what you buy, simply changing where you buy could cut your grocery bill by about one-third. That’s about $131 for the month. Find out how that works here: Try the Discount Grocery Challenge to save money all year
2. Switch your water
Instead of buying bottled water, if you have access to drinkable water, drink tap water. Maybe buy a water filter or a Soda Stream if you enjoy sparkling water.
If you’re out and about, fill up a water bottle and take it with you. You can also jazz up your water with lemon or a cold tea infusion.
What’s the saving? According to the University of Queensland, tap water costs around $3 per 1000 litres, comparatively to bottled water, which is approximately $3 per litre. That’s 1,000 times more expensive.
So, instead of buying a bottle of water each day at around $4, drink tap and save an impressive $122 a month.
3. Switch your books
For lovers of books, getting your fix can be expensive. I’ve been happily downloading books on my Kindle. But when I did a recent check of my spend, I realised that I was spending $30 a week – which is $130 a month. So I’ve now joined my local library, and borrowed a swag of books and ebooks for free.
Even better, I don’t ever risk wasting money on a book I don’t enjoy.
4. Switch your entertainment
Same for movies and music. Instead of paying a subscription service, I use ABC iView and my new-found library’s eMusic services. This includes movies and music from the Sony catalogue.
That saves me around $17 a month.
5. Switch your news
Does anyone still get a paper copy of the newspaper delivered? Or you might pay for an online subscription. This Small Switch Challenge idea means you won’t have to do either.
Instead, use your local library or find a free online newspaper or blog with similar content.
I like podcasts for my news and current affairs – and, even better, I can listen at times when I can’t read, like when I’m walking, cooking or driving.
Switching your newspaper delivery could save you around $70 a month.
6. Switch your diet
Try ‘meat free Mondays’ – and help reduce carbon emissions at the same time. On average Australians eat 89.6 kg of meat each year and Aldi estimates that it costs around $10 per meal. If you substituted a vegetarian meal just once a week, the difference could save you around $30 a month.
7. Switch your holidays
This might just be the most fun you’ll have doing the Small Switch Challenge: substitute a weekend getaway with a camping trip. If you don’t have camping gear – don’t worry. You may be able to borrow from a friend or family member, and there are lots of places that hire out camping gear.
If you’re more into glamping than camping, why not hire a campervan? You can hire from a company or from individual owners through websites like Camplify.
While the cost of a house can be around $200 per night, a cabin can be about half that and a powered campsite around half again. So for a two-day getaway you could save $100.
8. Switch your transport
Instead of always driving your car, opt for substitutes. Take public transport, get a ride with a friend, book a ride share, walk, scooter or bike instead.
Driving can also be expensive when you account for fuel, oil, maintenance, depreciation, and the wear and tear on your car. If we use the Australian Tax Office benchmark, that cost is about $0.72 per kilometre. The average vehicle is driven 36.4 km per day – so that’s $26.21 per day.
So, if you could reduce that by just one-third, you could save $263 in a month.
9. Switch your sitter
If you have kids, save money by arranging a babysitting swap with a friend rather than always hiring a babysitter. You gain free child minding while you gain some personal or couple time.
The average cost of babysitting is about $22 an hour – so for an evening out, that could be $110. Let’s say you do that just once in a month – just by swapping your time, you’ve saved $110.
10. Switch your lights
Substitute your halogen light bulbs for LED lights. LEDs use about 75 per cent less energy than halogen and last five to 10 times longer. They can save a household around $650 over 10 years on their electricity bill.
You may even be able to access financial incentives to replace your old light bulbs with LEDs. The NSW Government Energy Savings Scheme subsidises the cost of the LED lights and the fee for installation.
Potential savings if you stick with the Small Switch Challenge
If you only make the 10 switches I’ve outlined above for the month of the challenge, you’ll save up to $973. That’s in one month.
If you manage to stick with the 10 changes, you’ll save a very motivating $11,676 each year.
To me, that’s 11,676 reasons to find even more switches to find and action.