The daily financial grind of balancing the family budget can be an enormous grind and, at times, get us all down … particularly for families with a few kids.

Life is for living and we deserve rewards for all our hard work.

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Sticking to a budget doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of life's little luxuries, you just have to plan for them, keep impulse buying under control and have a savvy strategy.

Luxury products and experiences don't have to attract luxury prices. Hopefully you'll be inspired to stick to your savings plan if you get to reward yourself every so often.

When drawing up your family budget work out how much you can afford to spend on luxuries like dining out, non-essential shopping or holidays and treat these items as an expense.

A colleague at Sunrise received a very pleasant surprise from his wife for his 50th birthday … an all expenses paid holiday for them both to attend the Italian F1 Grand Prix. She had secretly put away $50 a week for 2 years and hunted down great travel deals. So it can be done.

Surfing the internet makes it so much easier to hunt down the best deals. Here are a few thought starters we swear by;

Travel

-House swap; websites like www.homeexchange.com and www.aussiehousesswap.com.au provide platforms for people to list their homes and swap with other like minded families. If you live in the city think about swapping with someone who lives in the country or has a place on the coast, and vice versa. Another benefit of swapping homes is you get a kitchen so you can prepare all your own meals rather than the cost of eating out

-Chase the best currency conversion; If you want a luxury vacation, find a country where your dollar can stretch. Asian or Pacific destinations such as Vietnam, Cambodia or Tonga often have great deals on luxury travel because of the conversion.

-Go off season. Travel to destinations at a time when hotels and restaurants are not full and they're offering big discounts to attract customers. It doesn't mean going to extremes, shoulder seasons mean the weather is still nice and the value is there.

-Use credit card rewards. If you've always wanted to experience premium economy or business class flights, use your credit card points to travel in style - for free. But you will have to pay those pesky taxes.

-Always ask for an upgrade. There's no harm in asking! We have a relative who claims it's their wedding anniversary every hotel they book into and invariably the get a bottle of wine free or a room upgrade. Warning; don't claim it's your birthday because you run the risk of being found out if they check your passport.

-Book the cheapest worst room in a good hotel. No matter whether you're sleeping in the royal suite or the broom closet, the pool, day spa, restaurant, gardens and city sights are exactly the same for everyone. Very few book a hotel to spend all day and night in their room.

Kochie says always ask for an upgrade when travelling. Illustration: John Tiedemann.
Kochie says always ask for an upgrade when travelling. Illustration: John Tiedemann.

Buy second-hand

-Use online marketplaces; Gumtree and eBay have bargains on everything from strollers to televisions that are still in mint condition.

-Used or old model cars; New cars lose value as soon as they leave the dealership, dropping up to 50 per cent in the first five years. Check out used car trading websites like carsales.com.au and drive.com.au for deals.

Use coupons

-Don't be embarrassed to cut coupons; They'll save money on luxuries from dinners out to dry cleaning. Keep them in your wallet or by the door so you don't forget to redeem them.

-Look for online coupons; Before making an internet purchase do a quick search for a relevant coupon code to get a discount. Type in the product name and the word 'coupons' and find out what deals are out there.

Fashion

-Buy less but quality; splurge on a couple of high quality pieces of clothing which last longer and look great rather than lots of cheap stuff which wears out quickly.

-Buy second hand. Second hand shops are a great place to get designer and high-end clothing for reasonable prices. Look for specific brands you love.

-Rent a good outfit; blokes have been renting tuxedo's for years, now ladies can rent designer outfits from internet platforms like Glamcorner and The Volte. Rather than spend $500-1000 on an outfit, look amazing for $100.

-Costume jewellery rocks; diamonds may be a girl's best friend but cubic zirconia looks the same and is a better financial deal. There is an enormous range of good quality costume jewellery available.

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Groceries

-Buy flash ice cream at the supermarket; Instead of spending $6 on a scoop at a specialty ice cream shop, splurge on the most expensive litre at the supermarket. It'll cost you about the same and last the whole week.

-Shop at the local farmer's market; great quality, great value and a great experience. Make it a weekend tradition.

-Grow your own fresh herbs. Fresh herbs take your home-cooked meals to a whole new level. Grow some basil, mint or parsley on your windowsill or balcony.

-Buy in bulk. Indulge in costly groceries or Organic fruit and vegetable by buying in bulk from markets.



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