Spending so much time at home has led to many of us doing more cooking, cleaning and creative projects. But it’s also an opportunity for us to spend a bit of time looking at how we manage our own money.
So whether you want to cut costs, build savings or get yourself set up for a home loan in the future, here are four tips you can use to help get you there – including some that can take less time than baking a cake.
Make the most of free trials
Before you sign up for a new streaming service, virtual gym or anything else, check whether it offers a free trial. For example, Spotify Premium offers 1 month free for new subscribers, Stan offers a 30-day trial and Centr – the fitness app from Chris Hemsworth – offers a 7-day trial.
Tip: Set a reminder for when the trial ends. In most cases, you need to enter your card details when you register for the trial, so taking note of the end date means you can avoid being charged for services you don’t want to use any more.
This gives you a way to “try before you buy” but also means that, if you do decide to subscribe, you’ll have saved a bit of money by using the service for free first.
Cut costs (where you can)
This usually starts with looking at expenses that are “nice to have” but not exactly essential. Some common culprits include:
- Subscriptions for services that hardly get used
- Takeaway food and coffee
- Clothing and accessories
- Upgrades for items around the home that are still fine (but maybe a bit worn)
These types of expenses are usually the first to go in tough times anyway.
But you can also save money by looking at how much you’re spending on essential services and seeing if you can find a better deal elsewhere.
For instance, if your electricity bill has spiked since the lockdown started, maybe you can find a lower usage rate or promotional deal with another company. Or, if you're chewing through the allocated data and minutes on your phone plan, maybe you need to switch to one that is better suited to how you’re using your phone at the moment – you can always switch back later if you want to. | Amy Bradney George, finder.com.au
Bucket your money
This is a simple hack that can help you keep track of your money and increase your savings. Instead of keeping all your money in a single account, you separate your money into different accounts (or “buckets”) based on how you will use it.
For example, you could have one account where your income is deposited, another for ongoing savings and one for all your essential bills or direct debits. You could also create an account for fun spending on things like takeaway food, entertainment and clothing, or maybe even have one for short-term savings goals.
This is another version of the “envelope strategy”, where people would split their cash into separate envelopes based on how it would be used. It can help you stick to your budget, reach savings goals, avoid overspending or find new ways to cut down on expenses you don’t want or need, especially if you’re careful to take advantage of fee-free or low-fee accounts.
There are also easy ways to keep track of your accounts. As well as being able to make transfers and check your balances in a few clicks or taps through online and mobile banking, there are also platforms like the Finder app, which lets you see all your accounts in one place and offers tips to help you save even more.
Set new goals
So many of us had plans for 2020 upended by the coronavirus pandemic. But we can use this time to take stock, think about what we really value and set goals based on that. This could start by asking yourself the following three questions:
- What do I want in the next few months?
- What do I want this year?
- What do I want in 2021 and beyond?
If you have many answers, pick the ones that mean the most to you. Once you have them, you can use them to help you organise your money and stick to your budget so that you can achieve each goal.
Just like everything else, our money goals are a work in progress, which means there’s always room to improve. So even if you use just one of these tips during lockdown, you can save some money and build a financial future that fits your goals.
Amy Bradney-George is an editor and writer at Finder, Australia's most visited comparison site.