Money saving and managing debt goes hand-in-hand. That's why for this post, we are giving you 18 practical money saving tips that you can implement immediately! Whether you are buying small items, big-ticket items, or just want to have more cash - the tips below can help you.
18 Ways to Save Money
1. Stop Eating Out!
If you are someone who buys muffins and Starbucks every day on the way to work, you eat lunch out regularly with co-workers, or you order pizza and beer for dinner every week... you might have fallen into the "big-salary-eat-out-because-I-can" trap!
You have to stop this; it's killing your bank account AND your financial freedom!
"But how do I stop eating out??? The food out there is soooo goood!! And cooking is soooo hard!"
What to do:
The easy solution is to buy a slow cooker or pressure cooker (you can find them for a great price at Kmart)! Get one with a timer that switches to warm once it has finished cooking. Then, all you have to do is dump in your ingredients, set, and forget! Once cooked, portion your meal out into single serves, and save those extra leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer! Bam, dinner is ready to heat and eat faster than you can say M.E.N.U.L.O.G.!
You can also do a big cook-up on weekends so that all you must do is heat and eat on your busy weekday nights! No. More. Excuses!
Try searching on taste.com.au for some delicious and easy recipes. Bon Appetit!
2. Keep Your Receipts and Check them When Your Credit Card Bill Arrives.
Instances in which you have been billed wrongly can easily go unnoticed if you don't check your receipts!
Take, for example, a couple who dines out at their local pizza parlour and spends $22.80. They give their credit card to the waitress, and as usual, don't worry about the receipt. However, the next month when they get their credit card statement, the charge totals $228! If they had only double-checked the receipt on the spot, they could have avoided this! Luckily they regularly check their statements, otherwise, the restaurant would have gotten away with it.
3. Get a Bike and Use It!
Taken on a case-by-case basis, a bike can save you money on Uber expenses and fuel! Even if you drive a car to work or use public transportation, you can still use your bike to visit your local shops, tick off your daily exercise and save you.
Use a strong bike lock and cable, and lock your frame into something, not just the front wheel.
Park in safe, visible places.
Others have advised riding a humble-looking bike that no one will put much effort into stealing (depends on your area, though, so we'll leave this to your judgement).
4. End Your Amazon Prime Membership (or Any Similar Services).
Making the decision to unsubscribe from services like Amazon Prime and cutting down on online shopping expenditure can help you save up to 50% more money, which can be used to pay off debt or build an emergency fund! This tactic also helps prevent the accumulation of stuff that you simply don't need!
If you are not an impulse buyer and you only use Amazon and other similar shopping sites to buy your essentials (for example, where items such as diapers are cheaper online than at your local grocery store), then there's no need to unsubscribe. Online shopping can be worth your time, especially if you have kids or a busy lifestyle, and it saves you time! Just make sure you're truly taking advantage of online savings by setting rules around how and how often you shop online – and use a visa debit instead of a credit card (so it's harder to get into debt or start a sneaky online spending habit)!
But if you are an impulse buyer, try these tips:
Think of your "wish list" as a "wait list". Adding desired items into your "wish list" instead of "adding to cart," you still have peace of mind that the item is there, which helps ease the impulse.
Unsubscribe from emailing lists. The last thing you want is to be bombarded with "50% off" sale offers every day. Unsubscribe, out of sight, out of mind!
Avoid Afterpain. Resist the urge to use buy-now-pay-later schemes such as AfterPay, Humm, or ZipMoney. If you currently have one of these accounts open, make a budget plan to pay it off. Then once you are done, you can use that amount you were paying to set up a…
SPLURGE FUND! Budget for splurges by setting aside a small amount each week. That way, when an item comes along that you REALLY want, you can feel good about making the purchase (instead of feeling guilty)!
Channel your inner Marie Kondo and SPARK JOY! By getting rid of stuff that you don't need or use anymore (i.e., clothes that you haven't worn for a year or things around the house that are collecting dust), you will experience a sense of freedom and find a renewed appreciation for what you own. Sticking to the essentials will reinforce the power of minimalism and help you save money next time you need to make a purchase!
You can also ask these questions to know if an item is ready to throw (or sell/give away):
What do I want more, the item or space?
Will I be able to get this item again later if I need to?
What about this item am I attached to the item or the potential I see in it?
Identify which items bring you joy by comparing them.
It can be hard to eliminate an item because of "attachment" to its potential, but if that item has not lived up to its potential in the past year, it may be time to let it go.
If you are someone who struggles with decluttering:
Be easy on yourself. Feelings of attachment to items are real issues, and they are important to work through - but there's no need to overwhelm yourself. If you take it easy, it can be very therapeutic!
Do a little at a time. Try sorting through a little per week, a box a month, or throw out one or two things a day. Do whatever is least psychologically taxing for you whilst also making progress.
Rather than blame yourself for buying an item, instead think to yourself: "where is it going?". Consider that if you are donating or selling the item, it will likely go to somebody who really needs it!
It is okay to hold onto certain items that you may not be ready to let go of. A little at a time is fine - slow progress is still progress!
6. If Buying a Car, Choose One That You Can Afford!
A father has this financial advice for his son: "If you can't afford the monthly loan repayments to finalise debt within 3 years, then you simply can't afford that car"!
Some would argue that because in 2020 interest rates are at a historic low, there's no need to heed the above financial advice. However – despite strict lending laws - the fact is that regardless of the current interest rate, dealers and lenders can inadvertently over-extend credit for more than you really need or afford. Other than doing a credit check and a financial assessment, there is no way for creditors to ascertain (with 100% certainty) your true financial situation or your future capacity to repay the debt should you lose your job or something else goes wrong!
Depreciation should also be considered because the more expensive your car is, the faster it will depreciate – and the lower the resale value of your vehicle, the fewer funds you will retain should you need to sell the car in an emergency!
Whilst we would agree with the father's, the above advice is not a strict rule - you can adjust it to 5 years depending on your current situation (job stability, financial standing, living status, etc.).
The point here is to always assume the worst-case scenario before getting vehicle finance, a mortgage, a personal loan, or a credit card. You never know whether you may lose your job or find yourself off work due to bad health or personal injury, so when faced with a financial decision such as getting into debt or getting a loan, choose the option that won't cause an unmanageable amount of debt and stress, in case you do encounter unforeseen circumstances.
If you are struggling with unmanageable debt, get in touch with us to help you assess your circumstances and figure out the best course of action.
7. Sleep on It and Get Educated!
If your car breaks down, you will suddenly start noticing every offer for a "free test drive with 0% finance for 24 months drive away". It's so tempting to jump on these kinds of deals, especially if you need the car for work tomorrow!
However, before you fork out for a big-ticket item that will get you into more debt, it's important to sleep on it and get educated first, so you can make the best decision for your financial future with a clear mind. Do your research, review what the market has to offer, and decide exactly what you need. Have a look at whether there is a less expensive alternative for your current problem, or rule out the possibility that you just don't need the item altogether! Search for reviews, information, prices, how to spot bad purchases, and anything related, so you are prepared when you are ready to make the purchase and start negotiating. Most of the time, prices are negotiable – and the first offer is usually never the best deal! The only real way to remove the fear, uncertainty, and doubt of making an expensive purchase or important financial decision, is to go in fully educated.
Here are more tips:
Walkout as soon as someone says, "one time only," " just for today," or "if you sign up now." Don't fall for F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out). It is never a "once in a lifetime" thing. In fact, you claim the leverage when you walk out. (This depends on the situation, so learning how to recognise and act on those rare opportunities is also important).
When discussing money, use concrete figures. If you propose a budget in your range, naturally, the other side will high-ball you. Go in with an amount that is below your lowest offer (but not so low as to insult the seller), and start from there.
Ask open-ended questions, listen carefully, and only talk as much as you need to. To make the dialogue work for you, ask open-ended questions that enable the other party to give you valuable information. If you maintain eye contact but don't speak, the other side might make concessions that they wouldn't otherwise whilst they are rambling on trying to make the sale.
8. Save on Grocery Expenses.
Every week (or fortnight), you buy groceries, so the number one thing you can do to save money in these areas is to set a budget and stick to it! When setting a grocery budget, it's helpful to review past bank statements and get an idea about how much you would normally spend because groceries are an expense that tends to vary week to week. Set your budget at an amount that is less than your usual amount, but reasonable enough to allow you to take advantage of sales and bulk buys (which can help you save in the long run). Instead of shopping at your usual Coles or Woolworths, try shopping at your local fruit store and butcher – these small businesses often sell fresh produce at a discount in order to compete with the big supermarkets, and you'd be surprised at how far your dollars can go! Be wary, though - it can be tempting to spend just as much simply because your money goes farther and you end up with more produce – however, this can lead to wastage! Keep it simple. Buy less at a lower cost and make it go farther!
In the beginning, it may be a challenge to stick to your new budget – but think of it as a game instead of a limitation! Revel in the fact that you will be able to save money and reduce debt with what you save!
9. Open a Savings Account and Set a Savings Goal!
The sooner you start, the more you can save! Open an account with a bank other than your usual account so that there is a delay in transfer time. This will come in handy to prevent you from dipping into your hard-earned savings! Also, set a savings goal – determine exactly what it is that you are saving for! This will make it easier to maintain motivation when the urge to spend comes! Many banks offer accounts that enable you to set up and track your savings and customise your account with an image (such as that new car, house, or holiday)! Set yourself a timeline to hold yourself accountable – perhaps you want to do something with the funds a year from now (i.e., book a holiday), or perhaps you have a benchmark you are working towards, i.e., $50K in your retirement account by the time you reach 40. If your goal is to save for a longer period, look into a term deposit or high-yield savings account that you cannot touch without penalty. If you have a lot of debt, we recommend you pay that off first (you are probably getting smashed with interest) – but if you are in a precarious financial situation, it is definitely worthwhile to set up an emergency fund by depositing a small amount regularly for unavoidable future expenses!
10. Designate "No-Spend" Days
This trend is all the rage in the #budgeting #saving and #debtfree hashtags on Instagram! Have you ever had a day – or even a week – where you don't spend anything? If you're struggling to save money and manage your spending, this is a great way to reset your financials and give your credit card a well-deserved break! To conduct a spending freeze – you must be prepared – because there may be a requirement to make purchases of necessary items such as fuel or medication! However, the key to eliminating extra spending during this time is to cut down on unnecessary expenses and avoid circumstances that will inevitably end up in spending the money!
Determine the length of time you are prepared to go without spending – you can go a day, a week, or even a month! If you are a beginner, start with a smaller goal and use each little success to work your way up to extended periods! For instance, try a no-spend weekend or even a no-spend work week! Organise to go for a walk with friends instead of going out to brunch. Pack lunch and have coffee at work instead of buying coffee. Resist the urge to swing by the supermarket on your way home to "grab a couple of things", and limit shopping trips to once a week or once a fortnight! Consider ordering groceries online and doing a click-and-collect order if you are prone to adding goodies into your shopping cart. Stay off your phone as much as possible (especially if you are easily influenced by social media or a self-confessed online shopper)! By saying "no" to everything for a set period of time, you will definitely be able to save your dollars and learn to work with what you have!
11. Buy Your Phone Outright and Switch to a Cheaper Phone Plan
Do you really need the latest iPhone every time it comes out? The obvious answer is NO! If you are currently on a phone plan, look into whether you can downgrade or cancel without penalty. Many plans these days allow you to hand your phone back (to be refurbished) – so if you're in a bind, but you're paying too much – see if you can hand it back and buy a "dumb phone" for less than $100! At the end of the day, as long as you can make calls and texts – that's the main thing! But otherwise, you should still be able to get a good smartphone with internet capabilities for a reasonable price! Post-paid plans are also obviously very expensive – shop around to find a cheap pre-paid deal. Also – don't underestimate smaller phone companies – much of the time, they actually run off the bigger networks, i.e., Boost, and Aldi mobile goes via Telstra – so if you feel locked into one of the bigger Telcos due to service issues, you should still be able to get service at a better rate! Also, review how many calls and texts you make and how much data you actually use. Quite often, people go for the unlimited deal because they don't want to worry about having to pay extra, but if you consider what you need, you should be able to downgrade and still maintain the full functionality of your mobile device!
12. Do a Toy and Clothing Exchange for Your Kids!
Kids grow up way too quickly, and along with this are the associated expenses of toys and clothes! Get in touch with the other parents at school/daycare/kindy to facilitate a Toy and Clothing exchange! The "rules" of the swap can be as laid-back or as structured as you like – whether you get a ticket for every item you bring, or you assign a dollar value to each toy - just make it clear that the items to be exchanged should be cleaned and in good condition. Set the items up in an area large enough for everybody to browse and see what's available, and you can even group similar items together such as puzzles, boys toys, girls toys, baby toys, etc.
13. Become Aware of Your Bad Money Habits, and Make Some New Ones!
Impulse spending, spending more than you earn, paying your bills late, regular convenience purchases, failing to save for the future and not taking control of your career, and making excuses are just but a few of the bad money habits that could be keeping you from achieving your financial goals!
If you struggle with good money management, we highly recommend checking out the 30th November 2020 episode of the "How To Money" podcast, called "Creating Positive Financial Habits"! In this episode, Dr. Gina Cleo - an Australian expert on habit formation – busts the myth that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit! She reveals that depending on what the habit is, it can take 18 days to a year to make or break! Dr. Cleo teaches that because most of our behaviour is automatic, the secret to success is understanding the "trigger." For example, you may be in the habit of buying a morning coffee via the Zaraffas drive through every day on your way to work. By recognising that driving by Zaraffas is the trigger, you can alter your behaviour, by going an alternative route. Take 5 minutes to sit down and identify which behaviours are causing you trouble, and see if you can recognise the trigger so you can break the cycle!
14. Refinance Your Mortgage
As of December 2020, interest rates in Australia are at an all time low! Refinancing now – whilst it may have its challenges – may make a huge difference to your bottom line 20 or 30 years from now! Start by looking at your current home loan deal and then check out what the other banks are offering. Play with your numbers in a mortgage repayment calculator, and see what savings you could make! Also, consider that if another bank offers you a better deal, get it in writing and go back to your current bank to see if they are willing to offer a better deal if you bundle all of your banking with them!
Consider, for example, if you have a home loan of $500K. At 3% principle and interest over 30 years, you will pay $487 per week. But at 2% principle and interest over 30 years, you will pay $427 per week. That represents a possible saving of $60 per week!
15. Decide a Strategy to Pay Down Debt
Consider your circumstances, personality, and motivations when deciding which debt-reduction strategy is going to work best for you:
- Fire Hose – Once all your expenses are accounted for, focus surplus funds toward those loans with the highest interest rate. Then move on to the next most expensive debt. If you have large debts, this strategy can take some time before you "feel" like you are making progress – so if you tend towards impatience, this might not be the right strategy for you!
- Snowball – Contrary to the Fire Hose strategy, the snowball approach means you start with your smallest debts first and move on to the next biggest. With this strategy, you gather momentum quickly by applying the funds freed up from finalising smaller debts to the larger debt amounts. If you like seeing your progress add up quickly, this is a great strategy.
- Stress Less – Sometimes, a particular debt is your biggest cause of worry i.e. owing money to a relative. Focusing on this one first can stress less about the deb's impact on your mental health or relationships.
16. The Best Things in Life Are Free
Is your current lifestyle costing you your future? If it is, time to take it back a notch! Find ways to have fun without spending money! And in fact, you know it's not impossible, because as the saying goes: "the best things in life are free"! There are so many ways to have fun without spending money! For example, instead of going to the movies, host a movie date at home! Instead of eating out, invite some friends over for a potluck dinner party! Instead of taking your kids to Maccas, pack some snacks, and go to the library or the park! Create an at-home exercise routing instead of going to the gym, or plan with your friends to go for a run together after work!
17. Explore the Great Outdoors
Whilst 5-Star holidays are nice; there's nothing quite like the freedom of exploring the great outdoors! Camping is a much cheaper alternative to paying for accommodation, and you can have just as much fun (if not more) than the typical holiday which consists of shopping and eating out! If the way you usually get your steps in is by spending the day at the mall – try going for a hike some time! Replace that feeling of short-term satisfaction with the sense of connectedness that comes from being in nature!
18. Organise a Clothes Swap, or Sell them Online
Time to clean out the closet! Get a big group of friends together and organise a date to do a clothing exchange. Bring snacks and any leftover items you can sell online or donate. See, there is no need to buy brand new clothes to refresh your wardrobe! Save money in style!
If you need a financial plan to help you save and manage your money, we recommend seeking the advice of qualified financial advisors.
If, however, you are struggling with crippling debt and are struggling to see the way out of it, leave us a message or give us a call on 1300 003 328.