As money becomes ever tighter in Australia, here are four areas families can tighten up on to relieve the strain.

1. Food wastage

While we’re not going to recommend force feeding reluctant toddlers, or suggest your new-to-self feeding tots eat over a food catching bucket, there is a lot you can do to cut back on food wastage costs. Shopping a few days at a time means cutting back on fruit and veggies going soft or meats hitting their used by date. If this is unrealistic, then take the time to cook up soups and slow cooked casseroles, as well as stewed fruit desserts to use up what’s left before you go foraging for more.

Related: How to stretch your dollar further at the supermarket

2. Unexpected costs

Family budgets often leave little in reserve, meaning unexpected costs can be devastating. Simply suggesting you put away what you can for ‘just in case’ is trite (if true), the more practical idea is to get in front of such moments. Invest the time in talking to each of your key utility providers – the cause of most unexpected costs, about how to keep usage down, and set up bill smoothing, which allows for these bumps in the road. Some states have multiple utility providers, so use a comparison site like o make sure you’re getting the best deal. Should any unexpectedly large bills come in, always make contact as soon as possible to sort how to make repayments – getting behind on one bill can cause a domino effect with late payments and fees, so sorting a payment plan early can help prevent this happening.

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3. Holidays and special occasions

Be it boarding a flight with children in tow, or just providing for Easter, birthdays or Christmas, holidays are an expensive time for families. Your best bet to avoid turning these times into ‘unexpected costs’ (these days often cost more than we budget for) is to have a high interest bearing account specifically for travel and holiday costs. These types of accounts pay extra interest on the proviso that money regularly comes in, and very rarely comes back out – you won’t earn interest on the months you fail to deposit the minimum amount or you make a withdrawal.

Related: The real reason you can’t stick to your budget 

4. Children

Everything from food and clothing, entertainment (school holiday blow out anyone?) and medical expenses, to lost and broken clothing and toys; kids cost money. Ensuring you have adequate medical insurance coverage and registering with the relevant government agencies for all the payments and rebates available is highly recommended. This is also the period of your life that salting away any bonus income that comes your way for a rainy day is highly recommended. But it’s not all gloom and doom – as pricey as they may be, they’ll be your most personally rewarding investment!

Related: 8 ways to make over your home without spending a cent