By Chris Newman
When it comes down to it, there are two1 ways to make money: 1. Earn more than you spend. 2. Spend less than you earn.
Most people choose the first option. They might go for a promotion, or look for a job that pays better. They might start working longer hours, hoping the extra money they earn isn’t taken away by the tax man. They may even get a second job and do a bit of moonlighting.
Unfortunately, this option often leads to “lifestyle creep”, where you start buying more expensive items because you can now afford them. You’re not going into debt—you’ve got the money to pay for them now. But in terms of making money you’re no better off than what you were.
Then there’s the second option—spending less. You don’t have to find another job, or work extra hours. You just need to be smart about spending the money you’ve already got. And because you’re earning the same amount of money you always have, you’re far less likely to be affected by lifestyle creep.
Here are 12 ways to save money that can end up saving you a small fortune in the long run.
1. Stop paying ATM fees
- If you withdraw cash from another bank’s ATM, chances are you’ll be slugged with a $2.50 fee. So either stick to your own bank’s ATMs, or use your debit card to pay for goods.
- Potential Savings: $150 – $250.
2. Get rid of your credit card debts
- Get a balance transfer credit card with an interest-free period, and keep making the same repayments. Even if you pay only the minimum amount, you should be able to pay off 24-36% of the balance within in 12 months.
- Refinance your credit card debt by increasing your housing loan. (Interest rates on home loans are much lower than those on credit cards.)
- Potential Savings: $1,000 – $2,000
3. Take advantage of store offers when buying furniture, computers, white goods and other large household items
- If you’re paying with cash, ask for a discount. Most major retailers will give at least a 5% cash discount for larger ticket items. Besides, the worst they can do is say “No”.
- If you can’t pay cash, take advantage of any interest-free deals the store is offering. Not only do you get to take your purchase home immediately, you also get to pay the balance over a year or more without paying any interest. Just make sure you have a clear understanding of the terms, conditions and charges.
- Potential Savings: $600 – $1,200
4. Get a better home loan
- Whenever the Reserve Bank lowers the interest rate, ask your bank to match it. And if they won’t, then refinance with someone who will.
- Set up an offset bank account that’s linked to a debit card with a full interest offset against your personal mortgage. Then deposit all of your earnings (salary, investment earnings, etc.) into this account.
- Convert all your investment loans to interest-only loans, and deposit whatever you’re saving on repayments into your offset account.
- Potential Savings: $2,000 – $4,000
5. Pay off your credit card like you’d pay back a friend
- Think of your credit card a friend you’re borrowing money from. Pay back the full amount every month within the interest free period. And if you can’t, then it’s time to get rid of it. (See point 2.)
- Potential Savings: $1,000 – $2,000 (See point 2)
6. Get the best travel deals
- Plan your travels well in advance to take advantage of cheaper deals.
- Subscribe to airline newsletters to get advanced notice of special offers.
- Use online sites and apps to find discounts and compare deals.
- Potential Savings: $2,000 – $4,000
7. Take advantage of the gig economy
- Use rideshare apps such as Uber, which can be 30-50% cheaper than taxis.
- Earn extra money in your free time, or when travelling to and from work, by becoming a rideshare driver yourself.
- When you go on holiday, advertise your house on sites such as Stayz or Airbnb. The money you get from your tenants will help pay for your trip.
- If you have a spare room in your house, earn some extra money by renting it out.
- Potential Savings: $1,800 – $2,600
8. Shop online
- Buying clothes and other household items online is not only more convenient, but can also save you up to 80% of the full retail prices.
- Potential Savings: $1,000 – $1,500
9. Choose the right time and place to fuel up
- Use an app such as MotorMouth to find the lowest fuel prices in your area.
- Take advantage of cheaper fuel prices in less affluent suburbs.
- Potential Savings: $250 – $500
10. Find the cheapest electricity supplier
- Unlike some commodities, you’ll get the same electricity no matter who’s supplying it. So don’t be afraid to change suppliers if it means you’ll get a cheaper rate.
- Potential Savings: $400 – $800
11. Save on your groceries
- Start shopping at Aldi or the local markets, which can be 30% or more cheaper than Coles or Woolworths.
- Buy cleaning products and similar items in bulk at outlets such as Costco and save up to 50%.
- Look out for the 50% discount offers the major supermarkets regularly offer.
- Potential Savings: $4,000 – $6,000
12. Get better health cover for less
As you can see, you don’t have to be a finance whiz to save money. With these simple tips you can save up between $13,800 to $24,050! It’s just a matter of thinking about what you need (not what you want) and then looking for a deal that will help you buy it for less.
If you’d like more information on how to reduce your spending, or have a tip you’d like to share with us, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
1We’re ignoring the long-lost uncle who leaves their entire fortune to you in their will.