If you’re one of the hundreds of West Australians that seems to be short of money all the time, you aren’t alone. Australia’s debt to income ratio hovers around 200% which means it’s much harder to tread water and claw back savings. But with help from financial expert Bill Tsouvalas, Managing Director at Savvy Finance, we’ve got five ways to improve your family finances in 2021.
- Create a Budget
A family is a lot like a business – we need to account for our money coming in and money going out. As a family, we need to do the same. You can track your spending and income using smartphone apps designed for setting and keeping to a budget. Some of these features come part of your bank’s own NetBank app. You can also use “pooling” – different accounts for different expenses such as weekly expenses, monthly expenses, and yearly expenses, such as car registration. This can help you keep your spending under control.
- Shop Smarter – Plan Ahead
Planning your purchases, especially around mealtimes, can help you reduce impulse spending on junk food and ready meals. Planning out your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners means you’re also on top of your spending for the week – it reduces the urge to spend “$20 here and there” which can add up too. Buying coffee beans in bulk and making it at home can save you $4 a cup – which is another $20 a week; or $1,040 a year!
- Refinance Your Loans – Or Consolidate Debts
As of March 2021, interest rates are at record lows of 0.1%. If you haven’t refinanced your mortgage or car loan (yes, you can refinance a car loan!) in a year or two, now is the time to refinance your loans. If you approach a good broker, they can help you choose a car loan refinance package that suits your needs and saves you money. Another hurdle to overcome in your saving journey is small ongoing debts like credit cards. If you have two or three credit cards owing and charging interest, a debt consolidation loan bundles all these debts into one loan so you pay it off over time. It could save you thousands in interest.
And if you own an investment property, consider engaging a real estate investment management firm. Not only can they professionally manage your property for you, but they can also provide insights on how to minimise your risk and maximise your return on investment. They may also be able identify loan solutions which are better suited to your unique circumstances.
- Compare Your Utilities
Though you’re limited in what type of electricity provider you can choose, you can still shop around for cheaper gas, internet, and mobile providers. If you’re working from home, you may want to switch to a cheaper data plan since you’ll be using wi-fi most of the time. Use an online comparison engine to see what broadband plans are available in your area and switch. Also, if you haven’t used your landline in years – give it the snip!
- Shop Around – And Sell What You Don’t Need
We all know Perth has some of the best high-street retail in Australia – possibly the world! Unfortunately, high street also means higher prices. Buying from online stores usually ends up cheaper than buying from retail stores. Some websites offer bulk buys – such as toilet paper, dishwashing liquid and other household items – so you can save even more. If you have unwanted items such as last generation’s iPhone or clothing you don’t wear, you can always sell them on eBay or Gumtree to declutter and put some more money in your pocket. Amazon Prime, eBay Plus, and Kogan First are loyalty programs that offer subscriptions for an annual fee in return for free or low-cost express shipping. If you come to rely on these retailers, it could save you time and money.
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