1. Try a working bee
What better excuse to spark up the barbie than with a working bee. Get family, friends, neighbours, co-workers together and turn mundane jobs into an afternoon of fun (and toil). Get your slaves painting bedrooms, polishing decks or hammering shelves—while you repay them with a drink, and a snag.
2. Check out display homes
It’s one thing having an idea in your head—it’s quite another when you see it in front of you. A little known fact about display homes—and please keep this to yourself—is that when they're sold, so is the furniture. That's right—premium furniture and accessories sold at heavily reduced prices. Don’t forget to leave your email address with the builders so you don’t miss their sales.
3. Check out the flash new buildings in town
Most of these establishments hire architects and interior decorators which are beyond the budgets of most of us. But scribbling down a few ideas from a new restaurant or bar is free.
4. Barter at garage sales
It’s amazing what people get rid off. Items are a fraction of the retail cost, people are desperate to sell, and haggling is expected. Find sales through your local newspaper, or keep an eye out for posters stuck on lamp posts around your 'hood.
5. Visit trade fairs
Trade fairs take place all over Australia at different times of the year. Sellers showcase their goods and buyers get the chance to buy stuff at cost price. Be mindful that some fairs require you to have a business registration, or work in that particular trade.
6. Hire a handy-person
They’re inexpensive, experienced and perfect for all manner of odd jobs. Especially the one’s you’ve been putting off because you don’t have the time or skills to complete. Get them to build a shed, mount a shelf, or paint a room perhaps.
7. Choose the right season of the year
Like travelling, saving money means avoiding peak seasons like Christmas, Easter and school holidays—the same rules applies for renovations. For instance, if you’re planning to install air conditioning, do it in winter when the demand is low.
8. Buy from alternative markets
Do flea markets, trash and treasure and car boot sales sound familiar? They’re like garage sales, but on a mighty scale. People gather in large halls or vacant outdoor areas to sell their unwanted goods. They haggle like cats! Most items are second hand, some even faulty (be careful), but they’re super cheap.
9. Beg, borrow, steal from family and friends
We don’t mean hang out the side of the road and ask for loose change. But make the most of people close to you. Beg people for their time—puppy-dog eyes always work. Borrow equipment from friends and family—it’s always cheaper than buying. Then get parts or materials for a steal. Someone probably has a shed full of unused bricks or left-over paint they want to get rid of. You could also try the Freecycle website for unwanted items needing a new home.
10. Wait for hard collections
Twice a year local councils invite residents to throw out large items that can’t be accepted in weekly collections. People ditch all sorts of stuff like mattresses, beds, wood, white goods and appliances. Before you start lugging an oversized piece of wood over your shoulder, just remember to ask permission from the owner (and don’t pick up anything that has a council sticker on it).
11. Buy from a tip
We don’t want you to scavenge through the trash—but instead visit the tip’s shop-front. Some pretty cool stuff gets reused and sold there. You'll find recycled household material and plants, which means your landscaping might cost you a few gold coins instead of a few hundred bucks.