By Rebecca Pike, money expert at Finder
With the rising cost of living Australia has seen over the past year, saving your money might seem like it is harder than ever.
Even if you’ve always been a natural saver, most of us are spending more money than we used to.
Whether you’re saving for something in particular or you just want a good buffer for the future, it’s more important than ever to have the right budgeting strategies in place.
We’ve put together some tips and tricks to maximise your savings efforts. Make sure to follow as many of these as possible and you should start seeing results.
Sitting down and going through your expenses should be the first step on your savings journey, even though it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.
You might think you know how much you spend, but it’s likely the case that you’re overlooking something. Or, there are small monthly costs that you don’t think are a problem, but they all add up.
Take the time to go through your bank statements and write down separately in a spreadsheet everything that comes out each month.
Having those numbers separate from the rest of your bank account can be eye-opening.
You should also get a rough estimate of how much you spend on groceries, eating out and other one-off expenses. Although they’re not recurring monthly payments, you’ll probably find you spend about the same each month on those expenses.
Now, you have a clear view of where you might be able to cut back.
A lot of people live with one transaction account and one savings account, but it can actually be helpful to open some other accounts. Although it might seem overwhelming and unnecessary, being able to split up your money can really help you see where it’s going and what money you really have.
Move your rent and bills into a separate account so it’s not lumped together with the money you can spend. This gives you clear views of what money you really have available.
You need to keep your savings in a separate account, ideally one with a great interest rate. You can also create separate accounts for different savings goals so you know exactly where you’re at in each of your savings journeys.
Most banking apps should give you the option of having notifications. These alerts can tell you when money is coming out and going in. Many apps have the technology to “learn” when certain bills come out and will notify you ahead of time.
This not only helps you to make sure you have the right money in the right account to pay those bills but also helps make you hyper-aware of your finances and where your money is going.
Like using banking apps, having specific budgeting or money management apps can be really helpful. You can group all of your accounts in one place and work out a budget that considers all of your finances.
For example, Finder has its own app where you can put in all of your banking accounts and utilities.
If you’re taking your savings seriously, you have to stick to a strict budget. This might mean cutting back on spending on things like eating and drinking out. If the idea of sitting on the sofa at home while your friends go out without you is devastating, consider at-home dinner parties where everyone chips in for the cost of ingredients instead of expensive restaurants.
If you are keen to keep some social events on the calendar, just make sure you give yourself a strict budget for the occasion and stick to it! The occasional event is OK, but going out multiple nights per week will really hinder your savings goals.
The inflation figures have shown us that the biggest impact on the overall cost of living is groceries. Even with those rising costs, we all need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves and eating.
So how do we factor in these expensive grocery shops? Plan your meals each week and stick to a strict shopping list. You can use supermarket catalogues to see what’s on offer and plan your meals around those offers. Avoid adding in things that you don’t necessarily need and opt for cheaper alternatives of your favourite items as much as you can.