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How to save more than $14,000 in a year

Wonder where all your hard-earned cash is going? These nine tips will help put some more money back in your pocket.
By · 19 Mar 2024
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19 Mar 2024 · 5 min read
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The past year has been an uphill battle for many Australians. Persistent inflation, tax bracket creep and a flurry of interest rate hikes have left households with more money going out than coming in.

With that in mind, we’ve collated nine ways to keep more money in your pocket. The potential savings from the suggestions add up to a total of $14,488. You may not be able to act on every one of them or the actual savings may differ, but we hope the list inspires you to save more of your hard-earned cash.  

1. Be smart with your splurges

The average Aussie spent $4,792 on household goods, clothing and at department stores in the past twelve months, according to Canstar. Sure, you might be able to save extra cash by limiting discretionary purchases, but what if there was a better option?

Instead of cutting spending, plan the purchases for when your dollar goes furthest. There are several major sales events throughout the year where you can score discounts in the range of 20% to 30%. These include:

  • Afterpay Day: March and August  
  • Click Frenzy Mayhem: May
  • End of financial year: June to July 
  • Amazon Prime Day: July
  • Click Frenzy The Main Event: November
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday: November  
  • Boxing Day/End of calendar year: December 26 to January 

If you spend just half of the $4,792 during promotional periods and get an average discount of 25%, you could potentially save $599 a year.  

Admittedly, the timing of some spending is unavoidable. If the washing machine breaks, for example, it’s not realistic to wait for the next big sale. In that case, it’s best to shop around for a deal. Bunnings will beat a competitor’s price by 10% for the same item while JB Hi-Fi (also owner of The Good Guys) are always up for a deal. 

Potential saving: $599 a year  

2. Round up your spending 

What if we told you tapping your plastic could help you save? Round-up accounts automate savings by rounding transactions to the nearest dollar and depositing the difference in a specified savings account. Let’s say you purchase a coffee for $5.60. The bank rounds this up to the nearest number, in this case, $6, and deposits 40 cents into your savings account. A number of banks offer this feature including ING, P&N Bank, Bank Australia, Up Bank and Beyond Bank.

Data from Qi Insights shows that on average Aussies use their debit card 275 times a year. Up Bank’s analysis from 2023/2024 revealed the average non-boosted round-up was 49 cents. Over a year that would equal $135 in extra savings.    

Potential saving: $135 a year

3. Avoid saving your credit card details online

Many online retailers let you save your credit card details so that next time you shop at that site they are automatically filled in. This can be a double-edged sword. It makes online transactions even more seamless but also encourages impulse purchases. 

Let’s assume having your account details saved means you end up spending $50 a month on items that you would otherwise not have bought, you could potentially save $600 a year by not saving your details – or deleting them if you already had them saved.    

For an extra 30 seconds at the checkout, that’s a decent return on investment.  

Potential saving: $600 a year 

4. Opt for generic at the supermarket

Spotting sales at the supermarket can be a cumbersome process, with 83% of shoppers finding it difficult to navigate promotions, according to Choice. A simple solution to navigating the aisles of yellow “specials” tickets is to avoid branded products.  

Research from Canstar revealed no-name substitutes are typically 38.8% cheaper than their branded peers. Assuming half of a grocery shop is substituted for generic brands, this could potentially save a family of four $2,088 over a year.  

Potential saving: $2,088 a year

5. Make cash from unwanted Items 

Selling unwanted items lying around the house is great for putting some extra cash in your pocket. Gumtree’s 2022 Circular Economy Report found that 86% of Australians have unwanted or unused items they could sell, with around 21 items per household worth $6,964. Even if you made just 30% of that you’d have an extra $2,089 to add to your savings.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself “Have I used this item in the past year?” If the answer is no, and it’s not sentimental, it may be time to consider selling.   

Potential earnings: $2,089

6. Meal prep lunches

Tuna, broccoli and rice for five days straight doesn’t exactly scream delicious. However, grabbing lunch on the go every day is burning a hole in your pocket. Fortunately, we have a solution that satisfies your taste buds and bank account – enjoy lunch out twice a week and implement meal prep for the remaining three days. Assuming a prepared meal will set you back $7 while lunch from a café will cost $20, this could save you $39 a week. Over a year that comes to $1,872 (assuming you have four weeks of annual leave).

The key to successful meal prepping is to make it simple. You might want to try doing it every second week to start with. Consider grabbing a salad kit or quality jar sauce to expedite the process. If you’re already making dinner, cook double the ingredients and tupperware the leftovers. And be sure to mix up the recipes so meals don’t become monotonous.  

Potential saving: $1,872 a year 

7. Scrutinise your subscriptions 

Research from ING revealed Australians are spending up to $1,261 per year on unused subscriptions and forgotten outgoings. This can include streaming and content services, gym memberships and fitness apps to name just a few.

Print out your statement for the past three months and highlight any recurring subscriptions. Ask yourself do you use this regularly? If not, it’s time to cull. 

Culling just one subscription with a $15 cost per month will save you $180 across a year.  

Potential saving: $180 a year

8. Get a better deal on your bills

Speaking of cutting costs, shopping around for a better deal on your bills will almost certainly reward you with more savings. There are big savings to be made on insurance alone. 

According to Canstar’s Cost of Living comparison data, the potential savings from switching are: 

  • Car insurance: $1,074 
  • Home insurance: $905 
  • Health insurance: $182 

That’s a total of $2,161 a year. Keep in mind policies will be subject to your unique circumstances. 

Even if you find your bills stack up reasonably, it’s always worth taking a look at what’s on offer. You can even pose the question to your provider. You never know what they’ll offer to keep a valued customer around.  

Potential saving: $2,161 a year 

9. Review your mortgage

The lightning pace of interest rate hikes since 2022 has left a widening hole in the pockets of many borrowers. Research from Canstar reveals the average variable rate on an owner-occupied loan is now 6.90% compared to 5.89% for the cheapest. 

A 1.01% basis point gap might not sound like much. However, on a $600,000 loan over 30 years, that’s an extra $4,764 in repayments per year you may not need to make. That money can be kept in your pocket or go towards paying off the loan more quickly.  

Potential saving: $4,764 a year  

 

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Lachlan Buur-Jensen
Lachlan Buur-Jensen
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