Planning to save but not sure where to start? Here are 7 simple and practical ideas to help get your bank balance looking a little healthier.
With the new year in full swing, it’s now a good time to take stock of your finances and put a savings plan into place. This may sound daunting, but it needn’t be. Here are some simple ideas to help get your bank balance looking a little healthier.
The most obvious way to save money is to reduce your spending – and the best way to analyse your spending habits, is to create a budget. Set up a spreadsheet or simply download one of the many budgeting apps out there like TrackMySPEND, Pocketbook or Free2Spend. The RAMS website also has a handy budget calculator. Plug in all of your earnings and outgoings, then play with the numbers to see where you can save the most money each month.
It’s often the little things we do out of habit that can add up over time. Think about the things you regularly spend money on and see if you can cut these down or out altogether. Skip the daily takeaway coffee for a homemade brew. Cut down on books and magazines by borrowing from the library. Or cancel the monthly carwash and do it yourself at home. Tackle one small change at a time and watch your savings grow!
Food is the second largest weekly expense (after housing) for most Australian households.1 We all know first hand how expensive groceries can be, but there are lots of ways to shop smart and reduce your weekly grocery spend. Try planning meals in advance and sticking to a list at the supermarket, there are some great shopping list apps out there, check out Grocery IQ, OurGroceries or Out of Milk. Buy in bulk when things are on special and swap out brand name products for generic brands when you can. Meat can be expensive so plan a few vegetarian meals each week – and why not cut down on the veggie bill while you’re at it by growing your own at home!
#4 Holiday hacks
If annual holidays are a must for your family, there are many ways to get away without breaking the budget. If you’re willing to be flexible with flights, you can save money by flying before 8am or after 8pm, on public holidays like Christmas or New Year's Day or during the low season. Hotel deals on comparison sites aren't always the cheapest option – often the hotel offers a better deal direct. Booking an apartment or a house can also be very cost-efficient, especially if you're travelling as a group.
Staying fit doesn’t have to come with a hefty monthly price tag. If your gym membership is breaking the budget, explore other ways to stay fit and have fun. Take a walk, go running or find a fun YouTube workout to follow.
In our consumer society, it’s easy to spend money on shiny new things that we don’t really need. Consider second-hand goods, buying good quality used items is good for the planet and your hip pocket. Take stock of what you have in your wardrobe – alter or mend old favourites then sell any unwanted items online. Or why not spring clean your home and have a garage sale to pocket a little extra cash.
If you owe money on your credit card, check what interest rate you are paying. Credit card interest rates can vary from less than 10% to more than 22%. Always pay your monthly bill on time to avoid added interest and if this is not possible consider consolidating your card debt in one lower interest loan. Contact your local home loan specialist about the pros and cons of this approach or take a look at our debt consolidation video for more information2.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Expenditure Survey, 2015-16.
2. Consolidating short term debt into your home loan means you will be paying these amounts over a longer period of time which may result in paying more interest and fees overall, if you don’t pay additional funds to pay off the fund you consolidated into your home loan.
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This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness of the information and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.