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The best ways to save money in Melbourne

Here are our top tips for beating that pesky little thing called inflation

Written by
Sanam Goodman
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According to the Guardian, Australia's national interest rate in 2022 has experienced the fastest annual increase in more than two decades. We're all feeling the pinch, with prices for just about everything going through the roof. 

Some expenses are unavoidable, but there are loads of ways to save a buck in Melbourne. From cheap movie tickets and free exhibitions to happy hours and shopping second-hand, we've rounded up ten tips below that will keep you and your bank account happy.

Waiting on payday? Here are the best free things to do in our city. Trying to impress someone? Here are cheap (or free!) dates to try in Melbourne. 

Ten cheap hacks to try in Melbourne

Pay ahead for parking
Photograph: Flickr | Cogdogblog

Pay ahead for parking

Avoid freaking out at the ticket machine and book your parking ahead. Most parking providers (Wilson, Secure Parking)  have a pretty seamless online booking system, letting you book and pay for a heavily discounted spot at a whole range of parking locations across Melbourne. 

  • Bars
  • Restaurants

Happy hour doesn’t always have to mean cheap jugs at the local pub, though there’s a time and place for that. There are a tonne of fancy spots around Melbourne that offer their own versions of happy hour, including The George on Collins with half-price cocktails on Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm to 6pm; $2 oysters and $9 prosecco on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5.30pm to 6.30pm at Hemingway’s Wine Room; two-for-one cocktails every day before 6pm at Copycat Elsternwickand half-price cocktails from 5pm to 6pm at Patsys Wine Bar.

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  • Restaurants
  • Delis

Heaps of sushi stores will slash the prices of their sushi after the lunch rush, meaning you can bag a bargain as an afternoon snack or to save for lunch the next day. Just make sure you pop it into a fridge as soon as you can – warm sushi isn’t the best.

  • Travel

Myki fares for travelling on public transport are based on the zones you travel to and within. If you’re travelling within the CBD, most of it is found in the free tram zone, meaning you don’t need to touch on or off and your fare is completely free.

If you travel within Zone 2 (the outer suburbs of Melbourne), you’ll be charged a lower fare. If you travel within Zone 1 (the inner suburbs of Melbourne) or between Zone 1 and 2, you’ll be charged a higher fare. It’s good to keep this in mind when you’re travelling out of the CBD or between zones, and try and make note of where to get off to stop you from paying a higher fare.

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  • Film
  • Special screenings
  • price 1 of 4

Save your cinema outing for a Monday or Tuesday, and you’re destined for cheap tickets. Both Cinema Nova and Kino do discounted movie tickets on Mondays, and Lido does its on Tuesdays. If you’re a major cinephile, consider signing up as a cinema member for special access to cheap tickets and advance screenings all year round. 

And if you’re a fan of a good old impromptu trip to the theatre, TodayTix is for you. The platform offers cheap lottery tickets to some of the biggest shows in town, and even lets you set an alert for any last-minute tickets that might pop up on the day for a show you want to catch. 

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  • Restaurants

For when you’re not feeling like a steak or parma and a homecooked meal is too much effort, there are some trusty Melbourne eateries dishing up some hot food specials. Welcome to Brunswick does half-price barbecue plates every Saturday, Campari House has a $10 pizza/pasta and $5 wine lunch special from Monday to Friday, Henry Sugar has a cheap Monday snack night with $6 plates and Good Times in has its $9 puttanesca available every night of the week.

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