Lifestyle

15 ways to hit your savings goals in 2015

Because, #AdultLife.

According to Sarah Riegelhuth, one of Australia's leading financial experts, and the Author of Get Rich Slow, there is no excuse NOT to be saving – regardless of your income. “If you're in your early 20's and you put away $286.45 a month and earn an 8% return, you'll be a millionaire in forty years,” she says. “Imagine how that number would look if you put away even more money each month!”

Makes saving for a new car or handbag seem a little more achievable, huh? Here’s how.

Set your savings goal. Once you know what you are saving for – whether it’s a house, car or that Chanel handbag you’ve had your eye on for years – you’ll be able to determine how much you need in order to reach each goal. Create a budget. Prioritise regular bills, such as rent, and then split up whatever money is left between saving, investing and optional spending. Obviously, these amounts will vary for everyone. For example, a travel junkie may put away $100 each week for her next trip. Determine how much of your pay you can save. And be realistic! There’s no point putting money aside only to withdraw it again later. Take into consideration weekly expenses such as food, petrol and your social life and stick to your budget as closely as possible. It’s also a good idea to put aside a little extra cash in case there’s an emergency – such as a sick puppy or surprise dental bills. Cut your bills. Speaking of bills, save on water with two minute showers, getting a water-efficient shower head and washing your clothes in cold water. Avoid using the dryer or only do so in off-peak times. Also, don’t be afraid to shop around when it comes to insurance for your house and car. You’d be surprised by how much you can save when you put a little legwork in.

Assign short-term deadlines. Start out with simple goals and timetables. For example, try to save $1,000 in a month. Or say, “this month I’m going to pay off my CC.”

Get organised. Run your finances like you run your social life! Set up calendar alerts for your bills. And make a separate email address for your bills so they never get lost in the shuffle.

Keep a budget journal. Keeping a journal will force you to pay detailed attention to your spending habits, prevent you from spending beyond your means, teach you where you can save some extra cash, and make you feel like a ~gRoWn Up~. Tip: If you're not up for an old-fashion journal, try an app like Level Money.

Prioritise. Think about the most valuable places to put your dollars. For example, if your credit card debt costs you 17% interest and your savings account only earns you 1% interest, pay off the debt before you focus on saving.

Get rid of any debts. Speaking of debts, if you can’t be trusted with a credit card, destroy it until it’s paid off. Alternatively, you can speak to your bank about taking out a personal loan to pay off any credit card debt. Usually personal loans have a lower interest rate and you’re less likely to spend. Set up direct debits from your savings account on pay day to pay off your loan or CC. That way the money comes out without you ever missing it. It will take a little while to get used to it, but you’ll adjust. Plus, just think about how good a debt free life will feel! Be a smart shopper. Check clothing labels when shopping and avoid items that require dry-cleaning. Don’t ever buy the first thing you see. Shop around and compare prices online. Christmas is also a time to be strict. As much as you love to splurge on your loved ones, set yourself a limit. “Buying your gifts online using a shopping aggregator site like ebay, Amazon or Google, can make sure you get the best price available,” Sarah says. “At the beginning of December, I put all of the books and DVDs I wanted to purchase into my Amazon shopping cart; then I checked every day, and made the purchases when the prices had dropped to what I felt was a low point.”

Sleep on it. Catching Z’s is not only good for your health — it can have a positive effect on your bank account. There are going to be times when you want to spoil yourself, that’s fine. But most of it can wait until tomorrow. Make yourself wait 24 hours and if you are still obsessed with it the next day, buy it. Also, try to avoid late-night online shopping binges. When you're tired, you may be more prone to just click and buy.

Write a grocery list and never shop hungry. Only take cash to avoid buying unnecessary habits and cut down on junk food. While delicious, sugary treats aren’t helping your health and are empty calories and therefore an unnecessary drain on funds. If you really need chocolate, buy the darkest kind you can find and ration yourself to a few pieces.

Pack your lunch. Go grocery shopping and prepare your meals for the week on a Sunday. Packing your lunch can save you tonnes of money not to mention it can help with eating healthy.

Sell your old stuff. With sites like eBay and Gumtree available, there’s no excuse not to make some extra cash off things you don’t use anymore. Even if you bulk sell a bunch of old tees for $20 – that’s still $20 extra you’ve got to spend on your bills, buy food or put in your savings account.

Pay in cash. If you think about how much you can afford to spend before you go out, you’re less likely to over withdraw. "Leave your credit card at home to stop you going overboard after you've had a couple of drinks," Sarah says. "It's better to withdraw the cash you're willing to spend before going out, rather than regretting those costly drinks you shouted your mates when it shows up on your statement."

This article is brought to you by All-New Mazda2.