1. Set a goal
Saving money for a rainy day is all well and good, but if you have a specific and achievable goal in mind, you'll be more motivated to achieve it. Common finance goals include paying off a debt, building an emergency fund, saving for a home deposit or saving for a holiday.
2. Pay yourself first
If you're the type to get paid and then immediately begin start paying bills, buying groceries, shopping for clothes and grabbing brunch with friends promising yourself that you'll eventually save whatever money is left over - this could be where you're going wrong. Prioritise your savings by treating them like any other non-negotiable bill.
Whether you commit to saving a percentage of your income (most experts suggest around 10-20%) or $50 a week, it's important to put this amount away first before you begin spending on discretionary items.
3. Do an audit
Almost every bank now has its own banking app, so there's no longer an excuse not to check exactly where your money is going. It may feel scary, but taking a deep dive into your spending habits can be an eye-opening, and ultimately life-changing experience.
Figure out exactly how much money is going to essentials (accommodation, food and medication, for example) and how much is going towards discretionary spending (for example, takeaway, dining out and entertainment). Consider whether you're comfortable with these figures and see if there are any ways to cut back on unnecessary spending.
While you're at it, why not check out whether you're paying an exorbitant amount in bank fees, unused gym memberships and any other direct debits? You'll be surprised at how quickly money spent on unused subscriptions can add up.
4. Prioritise what is important to you
Unless you've recently won the lottery, chances are you will probably have to make some tough decisions about where you can spend and where you can save. While some may find the task of forfeiting their daily coffee habit in order to reach a financial goal easy, others may not.
Work out whether you can instead cut back on clothes shopping, or simply pack your own lunch instead of getting takeaway. Once you make your decision - stick with it and revel in the indulgences you have consciously made provision for in your budget.
5. Get rewarded for spending
Now it's time for the fun part: saving money while you spend. In recent years, a number of sites have popped up, allowing you to save as you spend. Here's a quick roundup of some of the most popular options:
- Shopback - As a member of Shopback, you'll receive a portion of money back on every item you purchase through the app. Major retailers like Myer, The Iconic and Target are on board, so if you do need to make a purchase, this app will help you ensure that every dollar is going further.
- Round up features - Most banks offer a 'round up' service as an optional account feature. Every time you make a tap purchase with your debit card, you can choose to automatically have the figure rounded up to the nearest dollar with the difference placed into your savings account. Alternatively, you can download an app like Raiz, a micro-investing app that will automatically invest your spare change into the share market.
- Rewards cards - Many supermarkets and major retailers offer their own in-house rewards cards which can provide you with discounts on groceries, fuel and more.
- Loyalty cards - Here's one for the coffee lovers: don't underestimate the power of a loyalty card. A free coffee is a free coffee after all!
6. Shop smarter
You can easily pick up some savings while doing the weekly grocery shop. Easy swaps you can make at the grocery shop to save money include buying frozen vegetables (which have been proven to be just as nutritious as the fresh variety, according to the Dietitians Association of Australia).
You could also try cutting down on your meat consumption by going vegetarian - if only for one day a week - and watch your grocery bill shrink. Some shoppers even swear by shopping at night. This is when most fresh meat and bakery goods are discounted because they need to go before the end of the day.
You could even try purchasing your groceries on eBay - if you're game!
7. Build up a repertoire of easy, cheap recipes
Making healthy food at home is a habit that will not only improve your wellbeing, but will also improve your ability to save. Here are some cheap, easy and healthy recipes to get you started:
8. Never pay full price
This is one tip for all the shopaholics out there. Only shop the end-of-season sales, and when shopping online, add things to your basket, but wait 24-48 hours before pulling the trigger on your purchase. You may find you no longer want the item.
Take your shopping one step further, and make note of any product names, brands and models of items you want to buy, and search the web to check if any other retailer is selling it cheaper.
9. Pay your bills on time
One way to lose money quickly is to pay your bills late, which often includes a late fee. However, if you have a long history of paying your bills on time, you might want to do some research into providers who supply pay-on-time discounts.
10. Get educated about your finances
While these money-saving tips will get you started on your savings journey, one of the most important things you can do to stay financially secure is to learn as much as you can about personal finance. Luckily, there are plenty of free resources out there including the Money Smart website as well as a range of podcasts like My Millennial Money and She's on the Money.