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The best ways to save money

By: Erin Haywood0 comments

I know a writer who pays $30/month for a blogging platform. In the past year, she’s used it once to post a blog. Sounds like a bit of a waste, right? Yet she’s always saying she’ll use it properly “soon”.

Now, this writer may have a fantastic sense of humour, but she’s only kidding herself here. She’d be better off swapping the paid subscription for a free one until she can get into the habit of blogging more often. So excuse me while I go to… tell her that.

Whether its blogging or streaming or the bacon of the month club, cancelling unnecessary subscriptions is just one money-saving tip that can help you reach your financial goals.

Here are the best ways to save money this year.

Create a budget and track your spending

If you’re asking how to save money, allow me to ask you this first: do you have a budget?

Before you start mumbling about some Excel spreadsheet you did two Christmases ago, seriously consider if you can remember the last time you tracked the money dancing in and out of your bank account.

Actually check those credit card and bank statements you’re getting in the mail. Calculate all your regular expenses: your rent or home loan, your electricity and internet bill, your grocery bill, your car financing, and so on.

Then, once you’ve deducted these expenses from your income (you can do this week by week or month by month), you’ll know how much money you have to work with when it comes to saving.

The bonus is you might even find some hidden costs you didn’t realise you were still paying for. You may also identify areas in your life where you might consider cutting back. (Is a visit to the pet parlour once a week really necessary?)

Plenty of budget planner apps are out there too, so don’t forget you can rely on good ol’ technology for a bit of extra help. moneysmart.gov.au offers a simple budget planner you can start off with.

Ditch unnecessary subscriptions

Once you’ve poured over your statements (hopefully without tears pouring from your eyes), you would’ve gathered a good inventory of your various direct debits. Streaming services, a gym membership, a phone bill, the list goes on…

A good money-saving tip is to think carefully about your subscriptions: what are you actually paying for, and what would you really like to keep paying for?

If you can’t remember just how bad gyms smell, then you might want to consider cancelling your membership, as you probably haven’t been there recently… That’s not to say give up on your health, but to encourage you to explore cheaper ways to get into the habit of regular exercise, like walking.

I get it – things like a phone and insurance are must-haves – but are you paying too much for them? This isn’t always about cancelling your regular payments but seriously evaluating them and maybe even shopping around to see if you can get a better deal with a different provider.

Give it a rest

One of the best ways to save money is to let go of particular spending habits. One coffee a day may not seem like much, but at $5 a cup, that ends up totalling almost $2,000 a year!

So, once you’ve let go of a few unnecessary subscriptions, why not try cutting back on a few of your vices? Make your coffee at home and treat yourself to a takeaway cup just once a week instead. If you’re a smoker, you save in both cash and through better health by cutting back.

Same goes for your eating habits; you can still treat yourself occasionally to Uber Eats, but it’s generally much cheaper to prepare your own meals at home.

Become a smart shopper

In a perfect world, we would all shop just once a week and let no item go to waste.

Well, nothing in this world is perfect, but you can save money on food if you ‘up’ your grocery-planning game.

Schedule an hour on a Sunday to map out your meals for the week. Choose dinner recipes that’ll provide you with leftovers for lunches at school or work to save money on those, too.

Once you have your shopping list, ensure you stick to it as you shop. You could try ‘Click and Collect’ so there’s less chance you’ll see that two-for-one promotion on Tim Tams.

So what about impulse buying?

Another force to reckon with when saving money is impulse buying. Many experts recommend using the 30-day rule to combat impulse buying. Basically, instead of buying an item as soon as you see it, you wait 30 days before you allow yourself to buy it to see if it’s really what you want.

This might work for you, but I don’t think much of the 30-day rule. After all, that dress sale is only on for a day, right?

My advice, after all that great budgeting you do, is to allocate a certain amount of ‘splurge’ money per month to spend – or save – as you see fit.  Then, if there’s something you want to buy, you’ll know if you can buy it with your splurge money… or not.

That said, why not limit your shopping escapades while you’re trying to save? Then, that dress sale can pass by without you even knowing about it. Because let’s face it: you probably have enough dresses already, don’t you?

So, how much should you be saving?

How much you should be saving is always up to your financial situation and saving goals. Are you saving for a holiday to the beach next year, retirement, or – ideally – both? Do you have a lot of credit card debt?

A rule that I do like is the 50/30/20 rule, which recommends that 50% of your income goes to essentials like food and rent, 30% goes to your ‘splurge’ pocket, and 20% goes to your savings. If you find the 50% and 30% arenas difficult to manage, you may want to make some changes. This ratio, though, will inevitably need adjusting to suit your own goals, but it’s a good place to start.

Saving for a new car? Why not consider leasing a car with a low upfront deposit and weekly repayments starting from $129 that include registration and insurance.  Talk to Alpha Finance today for more information or call 1300 257 426.

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