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Author: Bessie Hassan | Finder.com.au

Money saving hacks I wish I'd known sooner

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Many of us don’t like to talk about money, but the reality is money directly affects our livelihood which can have a huge bearing our wellbeing.

Whether it’s scouting for a discount in the supermarket, making additional repayments on your credit card bill or filling up with petrol on a Tuesday, there are money-saving opportunities everywhere if you look closely enough.

We’re often bombarded with stock-standard messages about “budgeting better” or “investing more wisely”, but there are some money-saving hacks I’ve learnt along the way that I’d wish I’d known sooner. Here they are:

Don’t pay full price for anything

Whether you’re buying groceries, furniture, or a new car, you should never pay full price for anything. As the “customer is king” saying goes, you’re in a position of power when it comes to negotiating for better prices so keep this in mind before you hand over your cash or credit card details.

Whether it’s keeping your eyes peeled for an in-store promotion, waiting for an item to go on sale, or seeing if a retailer can value-add (often when you purchase a new vehicle, the dealer will throw in free car seats), there are many ways you can get more bung for your buck — you just need to ask.

Make overpayments on your accounts

We’re creatures of habit and this often holds true when it comes to making payments. While it may be tempting to pay the minimum amount on your loan or credit card bill, avoid doing this because it will take you longer to repay the balance. Instead, if you have some extra cash, make overpayments on your account as this will help you reduce your interest costs.

As an example, if you had a $500,000 mortgage with 5% interest and you put an extra $250 towards the loan each month (and started during the fifth year), you’d save over $60,000 and you’d also shorten your loan term by 3 years and 10 months. That means you’d pay off your mortgage nearly 4 years sooner!

It’s a simple hack, but a worthwhile one.

Switch to more cost-effective providers

Regularly reviewing your accounts is a good way to find out if you're paying too much, which can help you decide whether you need to switch providers. This could be for any of your existing accounts — mobile phone, internet, electricity/gas, gym membership, childcare facility, the list goes on.

Start by doing some market research to see what other providers are charging and if you think you’re being ripped off, consider switching. Overpaying for account fees or interest are common pitfalls, so see how your provider stacks up against competitors, and if you’re not happy with the price, then make the switch.

Fill up on the cheapest cycle day

As soon as we see the “empty” light go on, we immediately go to the nearest petrol station to fill up. However, planning ahead, and being more strategic about where you fill up could potentially save you hundreds of dollars each month.

As a rule of thumb, petrol is more expensive on the weekend as this is when there’s the greatest demand, whereas prices tend to fall during the week.

Typically, Tuesday is thought to be the cheapest day of the petrol cycle so keep this in mind before filling up. Comparing prices at your local stations is another good way to save some cash. You could save $50 even if it means driving an extra 3k’s!

Avoid paying the “tourist tax”

If you’re planning an overseas trip, try to avoid the “tourist tax” on costs such as flights, accommodation, and day trips. Travelling during non-peak periods, avoiding restaurants in the central business district (CBD), and using a currency conversion calculator while overseas are all simple ways you can avoid paying inflated prices for goods and services.

Money-saving hacks are key to improving your financial wellbeing so take some time out of routine to teach yourself about how you can save. Simple things like negotiating for better prices, switching providers, or avoiding the “tourist tax” are easy enough to do if you put your mind to it.

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