Saving money is one of the top New Year resolutions each year. It’s also an easy resolution to break though! So if you’ve made a vow to save money in 2016 – and don’t want your good intentions to fall by the wayside – help keep yourself on track with these 40 possible ways to save:
1. Have a written budget. Really – the easiest way to cut your costs is to know where you are spending your money. Having a written budget and tracking your expenses to ensure that it’s accurate is half the budgetary battle.
2. Get your partner on board. If you have a partner then making sure that you’re both communicating and agreeing about your financial priorities is important.
3. Write a weekly meal menu to save many hundreds of $ per annum. Doing one large shop rather than several small ones cuts down on impulse buys, takeaway and wastage.
4. Also make your own “takeaway” by cooking double potions and freezing half. Casseroles, bolognaise sauce, curries, lasagne and soup all freeze well.
5. Along with that, use an app. It’s easy to keep a running shopping list on your Smartphone. Shopshop is one example of an easy-to-use shopping list.
6. Buy a coffee machine. Enough said!
7. Taking a cut lunch to work could potentially save you over $1,000 per annum.
8. If you have children, then making school lunches at home rather than using the tuckshop could save hundreds of dollars as well.
9. Washing your own car can save around $45 – or more – each time. If you have a dog, wash Fido as well!
10. Pay your bills on time and avoid late fees – they can be $10 or more per bill. Paying your bills on time is also a great way to keep your credit record clean. If you struggle with your bills, set up a regular repayment amount to even out the cashflow.
11. Monitor your bank balance to avoid paying overdrawn fees, ensure that the interest rate is correct and that you have not been charged for purchases you didn’t make.
12. 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% and on a $3,000 ongoing debt, that difference could save you more than $300 per annum.
13. Phone your bank and ask for a discount on your mortgage interest rate. Even a 0.15% discount could save thousands over the life of your loan!
14. Shop around for your car insurance. The cost of a comprehensive insurance policy can vary by over one thousand dollars per annum!
15. Health insurance can be another great place to make savings; even a 10% saving on an average package policy premium would be more than $300 per annum.
16. Do a stocktake of your wardrobe – you may be surprised how many clothes you already have – and update with new accessories rather than new outfits.
17. Sell pre-loved items on eBay to help fund new purchases. Alternatively, spring clean your home and have a garage sale.
18. Speaking of online, there are plenty of online puchasing options as well!
19. When buying instore, using layby instead of credit helps prevent both impulse buys and expensive debt!
20. Try working off cash only. No credit, no eftpos. Simply with draw the cash you need for the week, and make it last. And always ask for a discount!
21. Review your personal insurance; your life, total and permanent disability, trauma and income protection insurance. Some of them can be paid via your superannuation fund – is it a practical option for your needs?
22. Audit your bank accounts to ensure that you are not paying fees. If you are, there are plenty of fee-free options available.
23. File your receipts to maximise your tax deductions for the current financial year and while it’s too late for 12/13, pay all your tax deductible expenses before June 30 next year.
24. Also, pay as many tax deductible expenses as possible in the name of the higher income earner. A $1,000 expense for someone on a 19% tax rate would result in a $190 refund; a $1,000 expense for someone on 37% tax rate would result in a $370 refund!
25. Join a net-based budgeting club. While they may have a membership fee, websites such as www.cheapskates.com.au or www.simplesavings.com.au can provide tips, discussions and inspiration for those wanting to learn how to budget.
26. Update your telecommunications contracts. There are hundreds of different telecommunications plans available. Review your periodically to ensure that it’s cost effective.
27. Think before you call. Could you use a landline rather than mobile? Could you send an email instead? Use your cheapest option!
28. Review your electricity and gas options as well. Being on the wrong plan could be costing you. Also make small changes such as washing your laundry in cold water and drying clothes on the line.
29. Review your superannuation fund. A small difference in fees and/or return can make a big difference to your retirement nest egg.
30. Start a coin jar! Throwing your silver and gold into a (non-opening) coin jar each day can build up very quickly.
31. Use your local library. Books, ebooks, magazines and DVDs are all available for free.
32. Reduce your vices. Do you smoke? Drink? Have an addiction to coffee? Whatever your vice, make a conscious effort to cut back. Healthy and wealthy – a double benefit!
33. One in three working Australians have lost track of some of their superannuation, to the tune of around $18 billion. Track it down your lost super to potentially increase your retirement nest egg by thousands of dollars. Phone the ATO on 13 28 65.
34. You may also have lost money sitting in bank accounts, company shares or life insurance policies. You can search for unclaimed money on ASIC’s consumer website. https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/find-unclaimed-money
35. Next time you fill a prescription at the chemist, consider buying the generic version. They are chemically equivalent but usually cost less.
36. Check your calendar well in advance for upcoming birthdays. Planning ahead can save money on those last-minute gift purchases.
37. Ensure that you and your partner are registered as a family for the medicare safety net, rather than as two individuals. This will lower your Medicare safety net threshold.
38. Just say no. Don’t feel pressured by friends, kids or colleagues into spending money you don’t have. It’s okay to say “no” now and then!
39. If all else fails and you love impulse buying, calculate how many hours of work it takes to earn the purchase price of an unnecessary item you’re considering. It’s an easy way to sort the impulse buys from the real wants!
40. Get help. If you are in financial strife, take advantage of the free financial counselling service available in every state. The Financial Counselling Australia website http://www.financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au/Home has a list of financial counselling organisations around Australia.