I’m not one for the whole ‘new year, new me’-thing, but being good with money is something that I want to work on. Here’s how to be smarter with money this year.
Separate your savings and transactional accounts and save
Essentially, you want to make it as hard as possible to spend directly from your savings account.1 Ideally, you’ll set up a direct debit into your savings account once you get your pay check, so that you don’t have to think about it, it’s already there. In that way, saving becomes a ‘bill’ but one that is for your future.1,2,3
Some bank apps let you round up transactions to the nearest dollar or $5, and the difference goes to your savings account. It’s a great way to save on the go. Make sure you know what the banking costs or admin fees involved are.1
You don’t have to save a massive amount of money every month, but saving a little every month means a lot of compound interest in the coming years. If you have a set amount (no matter how little) that you save every month, then you’re well on your way.1,4
You’ll have to get a few months’ bank statements and get a good hard look at what you’re spending your money on from month to month. Hence, you’ll be better able to see where your problems lie, but more on that later.1,2,4
If you know what you’re spending on, you can set a realistic budget. Be sure to stick to this budget.1,2,3,4 There are so many websites that give you templates on how to do this.
Here are some ways you can save on your weekly shop:
Meal plan: If you know what you’re going to eat for a week, then you know what to buy. Buy only the ingredients that you need.1
Look for specials: This speaks for itself, but make sure that you know your prices, so you are not duped with specials that don’t save you much money.1
Seasonal: Buy the fruits and veg that are in season. There’s usually a higher supply than demand at those times, so you’ll get them cheaper.1
Bulk buying: Buying food that does not go bad quickly in bulk is a good way to save money, things like long-life milk, oil, flour, sugar, etc.1
Save on your electricity bill with these tips:
Air conditioner: only cool or heat up the room that you’re in. I live in Queensland, so I can’t remember the last time I felt cold. If the air conditioner is running, make sure the windows are shut and the doors of other rooms are shut.1
Only run your washing machine when it has a full load and with cold water if it is possible.1
Switch it off: turn off any appliances that aren’t being used, like lights, chargers that are done charging, etc. If an appliance or electronic is on standby mode, it still takes up electricity. Switch it off at the wall.1
Swap it out or cancel
If you’re not a gym rat, but you still have the membership, why not swap it out for online workouts?1
Subscriptions: Take a look at your bank statements. Are there any subscription fees (like streaming services) that you don’t use anymore? Cancel it if you’re not getting your money’s worth.1
Fast food: Especially when you have them delivered to your door. Delete the apps and try to do fake-aways. They are much cheaper and healthier.1
Holidays: Try destinations closer to home, or somewhere you can drive rather than fly.1
Try carpooling instead of driving on your own.1
Switch providers: Whether it be insurance, medical insurance, internet providers, or cell phone providers, look at what other companies are offering and switch if you can get a better deal.1
Eat as well as you can and exercise, so you can stay healthy. Also, take care of your eyes and teeth. That means flossing every day. I’m not kidding—do you know how much dentists cost? Medical professionals cost a lot, even more so for preventable chronic conditions like cholesterol and diabetes. Also, staying healthy means fewer sick days and probably being more productive.3
Chronic health conditions can also have you paying higher health insurance rates than if you didn’t have them.3
Get a clear picture of all your debt. Do a mind map, bullet list, table, or whatever works for you. Know who you owe money and how much with the interest rate.2 Then you have to make a conscious effort to pay that debt off. If there is any money left to spare, put it toward your debt. The sooner you pay it off, the better.1,5
It’s good to start with the debt with the highest interest, things like short-term loans and credit cards. Then you can move on to the other debts, like your mortgage. I realise that a mortgage takes years to pay off, but if you can put some extra money towards it every month, it will save you compound interest in the future.4
Also, only use credit when absolutely necessary. Paying off your mortgage is a smart debt to have, but paying off non-essentials is not so smart.2
If you have to make major financial decisions, do your homework and don’t feel hastened or pressured when you have to make major money decisions, like getting a home loan, or where and how to save for retirement.4
Also, get a good financial advisor. This will usually be if you already have a fair bit of wealth, like cash, shares, and property.3 For ordinary folk, like me, I’ll just focus on saving.
It all comes down to living below your means, knowing the difference between a want and a need, and focusing on what you need.4
What is the best financial advice that you’ve ever gotten? Let me know in the comments.
PPS: I used these sources: