By Jo Violeta
Saving money is a great habit although, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. I believe that saving money has received a bad rap, many people see it as boring, restrictive and too difficult. The truth is saving money can be relatively painless and the benefits far outweigh any perceived pain. Saving is fun and achievable if you have a strategy and are committed. When our youngest Marcus was born, we had to adjust from living on two incomes to one. This provided a great opportunity for us to examine our money habits to find ways to stretch our dollar further and maximise our reduced income.
Here are our favourite, easy to implement strategies to help you get started with increasing your savings today:
1. Track spending
Record everything that you spend money on for at least 3 days. This will help you understand where your money goes, and allow you to make adjustments.
Print out your bank account transaction records and spend 30 minutes going over them line by line. Look for subscriptions and direct debit payments that you may have forgotten about and/or no longer need. Cancelling unwanted subscriptions can save you heaps.
2. Save loose change
Every day when you get home, empty coins from your pockets, wallet and handbag into a money box.
Deposit those saved coins into a high-interest savings account every month. If you were to save $2.50 a day in loose change for 12 months, making monthly deposits into a high-interest savings account, with compounding interest (at 5%) you could save approximately $1000 in a year.
3. Find fun things to do for FREE!
Activities to keep kids occupied can be expensive. Fortunately, the Mornington Peninsula and surrounds offer an abundance of free and cheap activities for families. We spoke with local mums to discover their favourite low-cost activities.
Here are their top picks:
- Exploring different playgrounds
- Visiting the ducks at Seaford creek
- Hanging out at the beach
- Wandering around McClelland Sculpture Park
- Exploring Rock Pools
4. Mortgage refinance
If you own your own home it’s smart to review your mortgage every 6-12 months to make sure you are still getting the right deal for your circumstances. Refinancing your mortgage could potentially save hundreds of dollars on your repayments every month.
Be mindful of exit fees and penalties though, and check that the new mortgage has all the features you want and need; for example you may want the option to make extra repayments.
You could also try negotiating with your current lender directly. Give them a call, let them know that you are shopping around and ask for a better rate.
5. Meal Planning
We started meal planning about 5 years ago, and it has slashed our total weekly food spend by approximately 40%.
Our best budget meal planning tips are:
- Shop from your pantry and fridge first – build your meal plan around what you already have
- Include lunches in the meal plan – bring homemade lunches to school/work
- Slow cook cheaper cuts of meat
- Include at least one meat free meal each week
6. Negotiate with providers
Okay, this may take about an hour or two and is kind of boring, but it could save you serious dollars.
Grab the account details for all your utilities and health insurance (if you have it).
Visit a few comparison websites and find out what deals are on offer.
Call all your providers, tell them you are shopping around and thinking of leaving them; they will very likely offer you a better deal to keep your business.
It’s amazing how much stuff families accumulate over time. We recently decluttered our home and discovered stuff that we hadn’t used in years!
Decluttering helps you gain an understanding of what you own, which in turn can stop you from buying items that you already possess but may have just forgotten about.
Decluttering can also make money.
Try selling items that you don’t need on eBay, Gumtree or similar and put those earnings straight into a high-interest savings account.
Once you get started with saving and get into a routine it’s quite surprising just how quickly your money can grow. The key is to start, even if you start small – start today!
Jo and Carl Violeta are self-confessed numbers nerds, parents of an energetic toddler and a super switched-on teenager, and co-founders of the award-winning business, Violeta Finance. They are a husband and wife team who are passionate about empowering their community with financial education, love the odd glass of wine, and get a kick out of helping families achieve their homeownership and financial dreams.