Recently, my better half and I bought a house. YAY! We are officially bonafide adults now. We are also expecting a baby in April and we (well, let’s face it, I) decided it was about time to get financially savvy, so we can still travel with the Tiny Wayfarer (bubs) and keep the lifestyle we are used to. Here are nifty ways we save money without really trying.
Have a hard look at how you manage your money
Okay folks, this is the ugly truth. You are probably losing a shit-tonne/mother-load of money because you are just too plain lazy to look at better options when it comes to your finances. I know we were. Here’s what we did:
- Get an offset account for your mortgage. If you have a mortgage, and don’t have an offset account, go and get one right now. Seriously, stop reading this post and go to the bank now. An offset account is an account where your savings/daily money sits, but your mortgage thinks that this balance is actually on it, making you ahead in repayments. In short, if you have a $200,000 mortgage, and $10,000 sitting in your offset account, you will only pay interest on $190,000. If you don’t think that this will save you much, over 30 years, it would save us $9,772.98, no effort needed.
- Get the best interest rate you can, period. Over 30 years, a $200,000 mortgage with a 4.25% interest rate will cost you $154,197. If your interest rate was 3.91% it would be $140,014. (Sometimes this means switching to a lesser known bank, but who cares) Saving? $14,183.
- Then, we started by looking at the fees that our current bank charged us. They were charging us anywhere from $12-$15 per month on debit card fees and account keeping fees. We switched to ING Direct for all of our banking and now we get charged nothing because we deposit our pay into it every month. Saving: $144-$180 per year.
- Balance transfer the shit out of your credit card. Balance transfers are the bomb. If you are paying any interest at all on your credit card, do this now. Another bank is so happy to take your debt, give you an interest-free period for at least 12 months for the privilege, all the while costing you nothing and saving you a years worth of interest. If you had a $5000 credit card debt, paying 20% interest, you will pay $1000 interest per year. Saving? $1000 per year.
- Get a credit card with no annual fee. Think this isn’t possible? Have a look at the American Express Discovery Card. $0 annual fee for the lifetime of the card. It even lets you collect Qantas points. Potential Saving? $95-$1200 per year.
- Roll over your superannuation, and check the fees. This takes a little effort initially, but saves you in the long run. If you have multiple super accounts, you are potentially paying for multiple life insurance schemes and multiple account keeping fees. Also, your money is stronger when pooled together.
Car related savings
Cars are a bottomless cesspool for all the money you wish you had to do fun stuff. Saving up for a holiday? Oh no you don’t! Guaranteed your car will decide to break down leaving you with nothing but a fantasy of cocktails and banana lounges. So what do we do?
1. Switch to Third Party insurance. Firstly, if you have a brand new car, ignore this. If your asset still holds value, then protect it. But, make sure you know how much your car is actually worth. You can check its value on depreciation and insurance websites. So then you can assess whether paying $1000-$1500 per year is really worth it. Chances are that you’re paying for more than 20% of the car’s real value per year. That shite ain’t worth it. We save $1700 per year on two cars.
Switch energy providers….
- …And pay on time. I know. This one is massively boring. But, it is so utterly valid. When we moved house, an energy company sent us a little letter saying that if we switched, they would give us a permanent 30% discount off our electricity bill for paying on-time. I was like “really?” and they were like, “yeah”. Sign. Me. Up. Saving? Approx $40 per month.
- Organise direct debits. The other beauty of the system is that you can set up direct debits for all your bills, so that you never pay late. The energy companies, and especially credit card companies hate it when you do this. Why? Because they can’t sting you for that extra 30% and can’t charge you a late fee. Saving? $30-50 per month.
And while we are talking about energy….
- Buy energy efficient appliances. Look at the stickers. Our fridge uses approximately 300kwh per year based on average consumption. Other fridges were double this. Saving? I guestimate that it saves us about $100 per year (but I’m no Rainman), for our fridge alone, oh and the environment. Then think about the savings when you look at your TV, washing machine, dishwasher, heating etc. This starts to really add up.
- Buy energy efficient light bulbs. Why? See above.
- Switch from pay TV to Netflix. Foxtel really is one of those unnecessary luxuries that burns your money away forever. Plans can cost in excess of $1000 per year. If you have any personal debt at all, you really need to be asking yourself whether this luxury is good use of your hard earned money. Could you be paying off debt or investing in your future with this money? Saving? $800-$900 per year.
- Don’t renew your phone contract. My Telstra phone plan is just about to expire. I pay $82 per month. I will be switching to ALDI prepaid which is $30 per month and it will give me more calls, texts and data (triple) for that price. Plus I don’t have to put my still perfectly working phone in landfill. Saving? Environment & $624 per year.
- Private health insurance. If you need this, keep it. Who am I to tell you not to invest in your health? However. Are you really using it? Like really really. Like when your kid asks you for a bandaid for their tiny scratch and your like “nah buddy you don’t need it”. Are you just afraid you will need it “one day”?. I tell you what, put the money you spend on private health insurance away in a savings account, or, better still, onto your mortgage. Why? Because if it just so happens that you never need it, you still have the money, and better still, you might have paid off your house/car by now! You haven’t accidentally given a large chunk of money to a multi-billion dollar industry that claims to “care” about you. They care alright, so long as you pay them. Saving? $3,120-$4,264 per year!
Other lifestyle savings
- Eat out less. I challenge you to look at your bank statement on your online banking, get out a calculator and add up every single takeaway, coffee and restaurant purchase made on your card for one month. My husband and I did, and it was horrifying. For the month of May in 2016, my husband and I spent $889.60 on eating out. This includes work lunches, McDonalds on road trips, coffees here and there, breakfasts on the weekend. It just became a habit. This was a huge wake-up call, that we both needed. What’s the solution? Buy better, nicer, healthier, easier food at the supermarket. It will cost you more at the checkout, but sooooo much less overall. Saving? $889.60 per month or 10,675.20 per year.
- Buy less shit. This seems like a simple one, and I could write an entire book about this, but just buy less crap. Seriously, you just don’t need it. If you walk out of the store, and still want it next week, get it. But chances are, you won’t. Also, ask these questions first. Is this a timeless item that won’t go out of style? Will this add value to my house? Will I gain memories with this item? Do I need this (i.e. Can’t physically go on living, without this)? If the answer is no, walk on by… Saving? Environment & $1-$1000 per month.
So that is our list of ways that me and my hubby save money so we can go travelling and experience new things such as kayaking and other activities. We are currently saving so we can go to New Zealand at the end of the year! I’m so excited! Comment below and let me know where you are wanting to go and how you’re saving to get there! I’d love to know!