Boost your own bottom line: a guide to saving
Readers talk back
Must reads site wide
When it comes to your bank balance bigger really is better and it's safe to say that savings are universally desired. "I wish I hadn't saved so much" said no one, ever. Yet, for something so sought after it is seldom discussed. It doesn't come up at dinner parties. No one talks about their savings plan while knocking back beers on a Friday. Limited debt is not a preference on any dating sites. And in my experience, despite the life-long importance of money management, it was strangely absent from my formal education.
I departed my teens and entered my twenties armed with a credit card and a binge buying habit – two scenarios which should never co-exist. Needless to say, my financial fitness became more flab than fab. Savings are best nurtured over time and I wasted a number of years before I realised I needed to make some fundamental changes. While I regret not doing so sooner, I am now in a position of independence. Here are a few simple changes that I found gave me the biggest bang for buck.
Don't be a Dollarmite by default
Firstly, credit needs to be given to the Commonwealth Bank's marketing department back in the 80's. Not only were they rocking the shoulder pads and blow wave but they were recruiting faithful customers through a cleverly devised Dollarmite savings program aimed at primary school aged children. They saw me coming a mile off; give me a plastic money box in the shape of an orange alien and I am yours for life. The warm and fuzzy feelings I had towards the bank coupled with complacency resulted in me failing to compare what else was on offer.
It turned out that my lack of interest was impacting my interest. I was losing money because I didn't look at the options. It's important to recognise that our banking needs change over time and in most cases you can generally find an account to match. Jump online and consider what products are on offer; the information is all available and in a few clicks you could be on your way to improved savings.
Review your health insurance
The first point here is if you don't have it already you should consider health insurance. There is the obvious advantage of being covered in unforseen circumstances. The added benefit is that it can save you money come tax time. If you don't have private hospital cover and earn above a specified threshold you may incur a Medicare Levy Surcharge.
In addition, if you decide to take out hospital cover after the 1st of July following your 31st birthday, you may pay Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading on your premium. This is a percentage on top of your premium for every year you are aged over 30. It pays to check this out. Visit for more information.
Once you have health insurance, you should regularly review your cover. Most of us take out health insurance when we leave the nest and begin our journey into adult life. Sadly, I no longer have the body of an 18 year old. I am on the downhill slope and additional considerations have come into play; failing eyesight - check, poor knees - check, pregnancy cover - not yet but did you know the waiting period is generally 12 months? If you haven't thought ahead you could be caught short.
The money you may save from being properly covered could have you laughing all the way to the bank.
It's not a bargain if you don't need it
Don't spend money to save money... remember, it isn't a bargain if you don't need it. I fell into the Groupon/Scoupon/Spreets trap. These sites are designed to make you feel like you are saving. You are not. You are spending money on things you don't need. The only thing worse than spending money on things you don't need, is buying a voucher you can't redeem due to the many, many restrictions. Want a hair cut? Sure. Our next availability is the 14th of Neverember.
Be conscious of your spending
This is a big one. One of my biggest money mistakes was not paying attention to what I was spending. The first step I took to remedy this was using cash to pay for things. Handy because it meant I avoided transaction fees and the other benefit was being able to quickly take stock of how much I had spent. For a while I set strict rules; no takeaway, no holidays, no coffee, no drinks, no treats, no fun. I quickly realised though that being aware of my spending was enough to bring about change. Being conscious of where my money was going meant I wasn't left wondering where all my money went.
Saving does not mean that all spending ceases. At the end of the day, what is the point of saving if you don't enjoy yourself from time to time? All it takes is a little bit of exercise to see changes in your financial health. Flex your saving muscle and you could improve your bottom line. And who doesn't want a better bottom line?