1. Audit your spending. The only real way you can start saving money is to find out where you’re spending it. You may think you’re on top of it, but how often do you get to the end of a pay cycle and, as your spending account hits single digits, you try and figure out where on earth it all went? Just buying two coffees a day can add up to around $3,000 per year.
So on July 1, set up a spreadsheet and record every cent you spend for a month. Better still, download WhiteStar’s Money app or Money Management program – you can try it free for 7 days – and have it all done for you. You’ll probably be surprised at how much money you spend on unnecessary expenses. You’ll also be able to identify where your money is disappearing – too many take-away lunches or impulse buys at the supermarket? Or maybe online shopping is your Achilles heel. A thorough, accurate and detailed audit of your spending will be the first indicator of where you can start saving.
2. Have a reason. It’s always easier to save when you have a specific reason or even something simple as a set monetary target. Of course, always make those targets reasonable. Big-ticket items such a deposit on a home, a new car, a wedding, or a round-the-world cruise will generally take a while to achieve. After all, even while you’re working your way towards them you still want to enjoy life with some relative comfort, and setting unrealistic targets or demanding too many sacrifices of yourself can actually end up being counter-productive.
Instead, it may help to set smaller milestones, and reward yourself (sensibly) when these are reached. You may, in fact, find that you become even more determined in your savings, as you tick off each milestone and your bank balance swells.
Smaller targets could include a holiday, special gift for a loved one or even simply a goal to save a set amount per week which can be safely put away in an investment account.
3. Audit your direct debits and utilities. Direct debit is like an invisible hand reaching into your wallet every month. Of course, it has its benefits, with many businesses such as power and gas companies offering discounts for direct debit and prompt payments. But with this convenience also comes complacency. Without the action of paying a bill personally, we can often overlook potential savings. A classic example of this is the fortnightly gym membership that is deducted regardless of whether you’re using the gym or not. Often, such companies will make it tricky to cancel, requiring members to ring up and talk to a specially-trained ‘consultant’ whose sole aim is to keep you signed up. But go in with a plan, be strong and stick with it.
Similarly, get new quotes every year for your car, home, and private health insurance. If you find a better price, and the policy fits your needs now and in the future, make the swap. Be prepared for a phone call from your previous insurer offering to cut you a better deal though. With the 14-day cooling off period on insurance policies, the ball is in your court.
With your insurance sorted, why not then take the microscope to your utility suppliers, telcos, internet providers, and in fact any industry that takes a regular fee for service.
4. Invest smart. As your savings grow, don’t leave them languishing in a low-interest savings account. Have a chat to a WhiteStar about other options like the possibility of purchasing an investment property or just directing the extra funds into your mortgage.
If you don’t think you’ll need to access your savings for a few years, consider investing your money in a managed fund, so that it can potentially grow from a number of sources such as the stock market, bonds, cash and property trusts. But always ask an expert’s advice before committing to any major investment.
5. Prepare for a rainy day. No matter how well you plan for the future, all sorts of unexpected costs can suddenly appear. These aren’t always bad things, just out of the blue. That’s why it’s wise to put some money away each pay cycle, in case of emergency.
6. Go high-tech. An easy-to use app or budget-keeping software such as WhiteStar’s Money app and Money Management program can automatically keep track of your spending on a number of different levels, and highlight where you could make improvements.
The WhiteStar MoneyApp for tablets and smartphones, and Money Management program for desktop, both look at your spending habits via an encrypted data link to your bank accounts – using the same level of data security that banks use – to help you better achieve your saving goals.
Once on-board, you’ll also have access to WhiteStar’s specialists who will customise a budget plan for you and provide support along the way. Simply choose the level and package to suit you, and before you know it, you’ll know your money backwards.
Check it out today and sign up for a free 7-day trial.