If you're sick of crawling through the last few days before payday existing on $1 dumplings and noodle cups, wondering if it's possible to use your travel card balance for groceries, it's time to take charge of your finances. We've devised a 30-day plan full of helpful life hacks that will leave you better off, but won't have you feeling like a tightass ('cause the technical term for ringing up organic blueberries as onions at the self-serve checkout is "stealing"). Whatever your goal—whether it's paying off some debt, saving for a holiday/car/wedding/house, or just freeing up some cash flow—get ready to make. it. rain.
1. First thing's first: Write down how much you want to save and what it's for, but most importantly, why. A motto such as "I'm saving for a European holiday because I want to see more of the world and meet new people" will help you stay on track when you're tempted to blow your paycheck on something dumb. Write it on a post-it note next to your mirror and save it in your phone notes to have on hand when you veer into Topshop on payday.
2. Move any credit card debt onto a card with an interest-free period. If your bank doesn't offer an interest-free option, there are plenty that do--you can easily transfer the balance of your existing card without having to change banks entirely.
3. Take a look at all your recurring subscriptions and memberships. Cancel any that you don't use, or don't use enough to warrant keeping them. (If you've got Netflix, Stan and HayU, one's gotta go.)
4. Get your super in check. Call up your super fund and have them consolidate all the random super accounts you have from working 14,392 jobs through uni. Once you're saving on fees from multiple accounts, consider making additional contributions (even if it's just $20 a week) to really beef up your super. This one's all about the long game (especially considering that on average, women end up with 43% super than men).
5. Walk to work every day for a week. It won't just save you money, it's better for the environment, your fitness, and your state of mind, too.
6. Stop smoking. If you're still smoking, just stop. We don't need to tell you how bad it is for you, and kicking a two-pack-a-week habit could save you around $3000 a year.
7. Call your mobile phone/internet company and ask what their best deal is for your usage level. Especially if you're constantly going over your limit and being charged for additional data. Research what other providers are offering for the same or similar plan, and if it's better, see if yours can match it.
8. Treat your savings like a bill that you put aside as soon as you get paid. Don't wait until the end of the month to "put away whatever's left over", because we all know how likely it is that will actually happen…
9. Get into the habit of returning things that aren't right. That includes the ASOS package that's been sitting in the corner of your room for the last two weeks...
10. Rename your bank accounts in your internet banking. If you're saving for a holiday, dub your savings account something fun like "Paris croissant fund" or "New York cocktail fund", so that you've got a reminder of what it is your money's going toward. If you have a credit card, rename it "debt" or "to repay" to help shift your thinking about how you use it and how you make your repayments.
11. Start a coin jar and empty your coins into it every night. While it's technically not making you extra money, you will feel gr8 when you have a nice lil amount to take to the bank after a few months. If you put it somewhere communal like the kitchen bench, your friends and family might be inclined to add to it, too. (Because let's face it, no one likes carrying coins around.)
12. Grab a loyalty card from anywhere you go on the reg, like your coffee shop, fav salad place and go-to nail salon. Don't go OTT collecting them, as that'll just incentivise you to spend more in a bunch of places and likely not reap the rewards—stick to the regulars and don't be shy about using them.
13. Buy two plastic folders from the newsagent to organise and keep your receipts in. Use one for things you can claim on tax, and the other for things you might need to return or sell in the future.
14. Go through your wardrobe and put aside anything you haven't worn in the past six months. List your more expensive wares on eBay, and donate the rest to a local women's shelter. (Because sometimes, doing a good deed is better than making money.)
15. Claim any rewards you've accrued on credit cards or in frequent flyer programs. Either for cash, or a gift card for somewhere practical, such as Woolies or Coles.
16. Take stock and organise an SOS kit. Gather together all your spare Panadol/Nurofen, tampons, hair ties and bobby pins and pack them in a purse in your bag. How many times have you had to drop $15 at the chemist when all your Nurofen are at home, or had to buy a whole pack of hair ties when you only need one?
17. For the next few nights, only cook meals using ingredients you already have in your cupboard. Supercook.com will give you recipe ideas based on the ingredients you input--genius.
18. Use an app to help track your spending. There are so many out there, so start by downloading a few and play around to see which you like best. Many, such as Pocketbook sync with your bank account and cards to seamlessly track every little thing for you. An app can help keep you accountable, and help group together big purchases so you can see where you spend the most and could cut down.
19. Go meat-free for the next few days. You'll be surprised how much less you spend when meat isn't a part of your grocery shop, and eating out tends to be cheaper too!
20. Use the ATM. Work out your budget for lunches, coffees, etc. and withdraw that amount at the beginning of the week, to avoid copping annoying surcharges on card purchases under $10. Old school, we know, but studies suggest you're also less likely to spend cash because of the physical act of handing over money (vs. simply tapping a card, for example).
21. Stop buying bottled water. It's bad for the environment and your wallet. Win win.
22. Organise a market stall with some friends. Gather up anything and everything you can sell—clothes, shoes, bags, books, unopened beauty products—and make a day of it.
23. Have a weekend where you only spend $20 from start to finish. Swap a big night out for cheap and/or free activites, like a picnic where everyone brings three things they have at home, or a night in with Netflix or Cards Against Humanity. You don't have to live like that every weekend, but it'll force you to get creative with your weekend plans, and re-think how you spend money on going out.
24. Next time you go to order Deliveroo/Menulog, call the restaurant and place a pick-up order instead. You'll save on the delivery fee, and it'll prevent you from ordering extra just to meet the minimum amount.
25. Take check of your health insurance. Do the math on how much you're forking out each month for extras vs. the return you've actually claimed back on those things over the past 12 months. If you've paid more than you've claimed, consider cancelling your extras cover and just putting that money aside instead.
26. On your next big night out, swap every second drink with water. When you wake up in the AM without a hangover, swiftly move the $50 you would've spent at the bar into your savings account.
27. Put your gym membership on hold for a month, and workout from home instead. There are plenty of fitness videos available on YouTube for free, but if you want something more specialised, try Yoga Studio, Barre Body Online, Sweat With Kayla or Ballet Beautiful, which are still cheaper than most physical gym or studio memberships.
28. Do your weekly or fortnightly grocery shopping after you've eaten dinner. Things such as bread are likely to be discounted at the end of the day, and it's been proven that shopping on a full stomach means you'll spend less. It's also more economical to do a bulk shop rather than little ones every few days.
29. Clothes-swap. Instead of buying a new outfit for your next big event, ask to borrow something from a friend, and offer to have it dry-cleaned afterward. If you don't have a friend with your body shape or size, or just feel awks asking, loan a dress instead (try Glam Corner, Style Theory or Her Wardrobe to start).
30. Ask for a payrise. Funnily enough, making more money is one of the most effective ways of, well, making more money.
Brought to you by REST Industry Super