Coming up to the end of a calendar year is often a time of reflection – whether it’s your job, your family, your goals or your fitness, it’s always important to take stock of the progress made and learning from any setbacks. A surprisingly common one to overlook though, is your finances!
Research has found that many Australians are embracing their money learnings from 2021 and resolving to use these setbacks to improve their future spending and saving habits.
While you’re leading up to planning for new year’s financial goals and key takeaways from the last 12 months, here’s a few easy banking no-brainers that could help you save some extra cash:
1. Predict your expenses and prepare accordingly
With budgets, start with the baseline! Working out what your necessary or ‘fixed’ spends are is a good way to understand how much you need to spend every day, week or month to get by. There are some expenses that are unavoidable – mortgage or rent bills, grocery items, utilities, phone bills and also transport costs are good examples of fixed costs. Everything else though, could be an optional spend that you may be able to reduce or avoid altogether.
Plan your meals and write a list of the foods you will need for the week so you don’t buy unnecessary groceries. It could also be worth trying to renegotiate your bills or consider switching providers. To work out what counts as a fixed cost each month, write a list of all your expenses and mark the ones you can’t give up. Minor adjustments might not look like much for a week but eventually, after consecutive months of saving, it can help grow your bank balance that little bit more.
2. Invest in long-term, practical purchases
The end of the year is a good time to work out any items you can buy for January that will save you money in the long-run. It might feel like you’re splurging at the time, but it’s in a practical manner! Having a home office can allow you to claim all your work-from-home expenses on tax. It might be a smart move to set up your home office with a monitor, desk and chair. It might be time to reconsider your expensive gym membership and either downgrade your membership tier, or use free online exercise programs to stay in shape, go for a run down your street or buy a home weight equipment set-up that you can continue to use in your own home, on your own time.
If you’re regularly buying coffee from the local cafe, it could be a good time to invest in a coffee machine and save the extra money over a longer period instead. Instead of ordering take away for most meals, you could invest in some quality cooking utensils and pots and learn to cook at home. Don’t buy fresh herbs for every meal, grow them in your garden! Investment in repeat-use items can save you thousands in additional costs ever year, and more often than not, you can pick up some fun new skills doing so.
3. Stop browsing online shopping sites
Sometimes when you’re trying to save money, idle curiosity can get the best of us. This could mean browsing through online shopping sites to see what sales are on, or checking if those shoes you wanted are back in stock yet. The best thing to do when you find yourself doing this is to take a deep breath, stop yourself, and exit the browser tab. Delete the app from your phone if that’s going to help too.
Going cold turkey can tough initially, but once the need for that instant gratification hit wears off, you’ll find you never really needed anything you were searching for in the first place! Plus, you’ll be able to use those savings for your essential spending budget, like food and internet.
4. Plan smarter around your banking
To be smart with money you’ve got to be aware of what features and benefits your bank can provide, whether your bank engages in ethical or green funds, what fees you’re being charged on a monthly basis, and what you might unknowingly be missing out on. Are you using the bank app’s scheduling and transfer features so that you can keep on track of your spending? Are you on the highest interest rate, or the lowest one? Are you missing out on potential savings rewards?
Take the time to review your banking provider, compare your options and work out the plan that’s going to benefit you the most in the long term. With an endless list of available banking providers and a highly competitive buyer’s market, you have the time and the freedom to switch banks in a matter of hours if you so choose.
5. Choose new budget-friendly activities with friends and family
If hanging out with your friends usually means going to a bar or restaurant, consider coming up with new ideas that don’t require you to empty out your savings every time! Going for a walk or hike somewhere is both a healthy and cost-free activity you can try out.
If hiking isn’t your vibe, there’s an endless range of fun ideas to try out such as gardening, camping, board game nights, knitting, cooking, drawing, free community events, outdoor yoga… the list goes on! Sure, they might not sound as fun as a night out on the town but the savings you make will be worth it.
6. Curb reliance on buy now, pay later platforms
With the rise of alternative payment methods online, new options have led people into the trap of accumulating debt under the guise of free products. Buy now, pay later methods allow you to pay for purchases in smaller instalments over a period of time, which might sound great if you’re wanting to disperse payments across a longer period – but terrible if you’re trying to actively save money.
It’s best to forfeit these payment options while you’re in savings mode and confront yourself with the reality of having to pay the full price upfront. If you wouldn’t do that, you probably shouldn’t defer it to next month either! Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore at the end of the day. With rational planning and a realistic outlook on your spending plan, you can still get the most enjoyment out of life while squirrelling plenty of money away for a rainy day.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such. Before making any commitment of a legal or financial nature you should seek advice from a qualified and registered Australian legal practitioner or financial or investment advisor.