Saving money can be easy

AUSTRALIA has again become a nation of savers, according to the Reserve Bank.

The GFC, higher living costs and continued uncertainty around interest rates have prompted many of us to pay more off our mortgages or fill our piggy banks.

Apparently we are now squirreling away about 10 per cent of our disposable income, our highest savings rate in 20 years.

But how are you meant to stash some cash if you're still spending everything or more than you earn?

Here are some tips to help you budget, even when you're broke.

BILLS

The longer you ignore paying bills, the harder it is to get out of debt and into savings.

Prioritise bills by their due dates and set up a schedule to have them debited from your bank account when you get paid.

If you have a few big bills that always arrive around the same time, chunk them down by setting up small direct debits for each pay day.

SAVINGS

Contrary to the nation's newfound habits, those struggling to get out of debt should forget about saving for now.

It may sound like irresponsible advice, but you are actually going backwards financially if you are socking away funds instead of paying down debt on credit cards or non-depreciating assets, such as cars.

To get back on an even keel, schedule to have more than the required minimum repayment debited from your bank account each month, and then pay off more again with anything left over from your budget.

GROCERIES

Supermarket aisles can crucify a budget, unless you're equipped with two things: a meal plan and a list.

Make a meal plan for the entire week, including snacks and lunches, and check your fridge and pantry to see what's already on hand.

Add to your food list only those items you need for your plan.

SHOP AROUND

It takes time but looking around for better deals can reap big rewards. Start by shopping around on the following household expenses:

  • Home loan
  • Car and home insurance
  • Credit card

TECHNOLOGY

New technologies have eaten into our wallets, but there is still plenty of room to save.

  • Switch to a pre-paid deal for your mobile phone and limit data downloads.
  • Bundle your home phone and internet.
  • Set up free voice-over technology, such as Skype, on your PC to talk to friends and family who are interstate or overseas.
  • Can the cable. You can catch plenty of reruns of Friends on free TV.

FIND TIME

Our final tip is to find time to follow through on some or all of our suggestions. Time spent on getting your finances in order is as good as money in the bank.



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