This post is brought to you by ASIC’s MoneySmart website
Most people think that in order to save money you have to do some really grand gesture, like only soup for dinner for the rest of your existence, but saving money does not have to be that difficult. In fact, I believe that when it comes to saving, it is the small things that you do every day that really matter. So here are five of my most favourite simple savings ideas that absolutely everyone can use in their everyday lives.
Choose a goal and create a plan
You need to have a savings goal. Without a goal it is easy to splurge money on a whim. Goals give you focus. Everybody has different savings goals. Choose yours, whether it be a holiday, buying your dream home or saving for your child’s education. You don’t have to have just one goal, you can have several. Short term, long term, big or small and you can work on them all at once if you choose. However, the key to doing this is to have a plan. As they say ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’. So your plan should have some concrete information including how much you need to save for your goal, when you need it by and what you are going to change to make it happen. If you want an easy way to set up your savings plan then you should consider using TrackMyGOALS, which is a great new free app from ASIC’s MoneySmart website. It helps you to set, plan, track and manage savings goals and helps you visualise your progress towards achieving your goals. Best of all it is completely free. Click here to check it out.
Track your spending
Now you have your goal and your plan you need to look at what you are going to do differently to achieve it. Ever wondered where your money is really going? Tracking your spending is the easiest way to tell. This can be as simple as keeping a piece of paper in your handbag and noting down every time you spend. Alternatively, if you have a smart phone MoneySmart have an awesome free app called TrackMySPEND, with a few easy taps you can record every time you spend! It is easy to use, gives you totals on where your spending is at and even better it is free!! Click here to check out the TrackMySPEND app. I challenge you to track your spending initially for a week, then extend it to a month. It is huge eye opener and will alert you to exactly where your money is going and what you could change to reach your saving goal.
Check your spending leaks
Checking your spending leaks can also help you easily identify places where you can easily save money. All you have to do is to think of two things that you spend money on regularly, be it daily, weekly or monthly. It could be a daily takeaway coffee, or weekly takeaway or monthly magazine subscriptions. Next add up how much one of these things cost you over a month, then a year. Now, think about how you could do that spending differently – be it bringing your lunch to work or cutting down from a large coffee to a smaller one, or buying from a cheaper supplier. Remember, doing things differently does not have to mean that you cut things out entirely, unless you are highly motivated to do so!! 🙂 See how much this new way of doing things would cost you over a month and then a year. Now, all you have to do is look at the difference between the two figures, how much it cost you per year using your old way versus the cost of the new way. This is how much you could save by changing your spending behavior. In my case I calculated I could save $2,184 simply by bringing my lunch to work and making my own hot chocolate in the office. A huge figure, especially given I only work 3 days per week!!
Draw yourself up a budget
Creating a budget is not as difficult as you think. It doesn’t have to be scary and you certainly do not have to pay someone to do it for you. There are heaps of fab free resources out there to help you create your budget. I use the free budget planner from the MoneySmart Website. Click here to check out their planner and click here to get the low down on exactly what I did to create my budget. I promise you it is seriously easy and makes achieving your savings goals so much simpler.
Pay yourself first
This is considered to be one of the BEST simple savings strategies and is all about putting you and your savings first. Think of it this way, imagine yourself standing behind a door and you have just got paid. “Woot, I am rich!” I hear you say. Then you fling open the door and there are a stack of people standing in the queue each with signs relating to different bills you have to pay – rent/mortgage, groceries, electricity bill, health insurance etc etc, but right down the back there is someone holding a sign that says ‘savings’. Usually by the time you have worked your way through the queue of bills there is nothing left for the poor guy called savings. Pay yourself first is all about putting savings first, bringing the savings guy from the back of the queue to the front. This means you put your savings away first thing when you are paid, then you figure out how to pay the rest of the bills and living costs after that. This principle works on the basic truth for most of us, that whatever we have left over we will make last until the next pay day. (Obviously this strategy is less useful if you are on a very low income and you need to be realistic in your savings amount).
As you can see, saving doesn’t have to be difficult. I challenge you to apply some of these simple savings ideas to your daily life and see how the little things you do turn into big things over a month then a year. Happy saving! 🙂
What is your favourite simple savings idea?
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This post was sponsored by ASIC’s MoneySmart website
MoneySmart provides free and impartial information and guidance about all aspects of personal finance to help Australians make informed financial decisions. Visit them at moneysmart.gov.au.