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It’s never too late to start saving

18 June 2024
• 6 minute read
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If you’ve let money slip through your fingers, with little more to show than a pair of Jordan’s and a 2009 Ford Festiva, it’s not the end of the world. If anything, it’s the beginning, because it’s what you do next that counts.

Taking control of your finances, at any age, means your future will inevitably be more secure. You just need to know where to start.

Start here

Now you’re sufficiently inspired, let’s take a closer look at what you need to do to make sure you’re successful in your savings efforts.

Set your goals

Let’s get philosophical. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”  What Fred meant by that is, you can put up with a lot if your goal is important enough to you.

Be clear about what you're saving for. It could be a house, a holiday or an upgrade to a 2013 Ford Festiva. Goals provide motivation when the sacrifice feels hard.

Create a budget

A budget helps you understand where your money goes and identifies areas where you can cut back. Use our Budget Planning Calculator to get started and record your income and expenses for a month to see where you can make progress.

Make saving automatic

Set up automatic transfers from your pay account to your savings account. That takes the admin out of your hands.

You can even set up multiple savings accounts with multiple automatic transfers for each goal or purpose. This technique is known as ‘bucketing’ and is a proven winner with savers.  In fact, 28% of Millennials use bucketing to help them save.

Educate yourself

This isn’t just important for your savings journey, it’s bigger than that. Financial literacy is crucial in understanding all aspect of money management from home loans to superannuation. Read books, take courses, and follow reputable financial blogs (like ours) to improve your understanding of personal finance.

What are the best ways to save?

Everyone loves a list. So, here are seven of the best ways to save, no matter your budget.

  1. Save first

    Send a portion of your income to your savings accounts before spending on anything else. Starting small is fine until you’ve got a handle on your finances. If there’s an opportunity to save more, do it.

  2. Start an emergency fund

    Car problems, medical bills, smashed phone screen. The list of costs that can come out of nowhere is endless. Open a savings account for emergencies. The longer you can save, the better placed you’ll be to handle any problem - large or small. Aim to save three months’ salary to begin with, and work towards building a six-month buffer. It’ll bring you peace of mind should the unexpected (and unwelcome) happen.

  3. Eat at home

    Dining out and ordering takeaway is easy, but costly. This is where discipline helps. Cooking at home can save you heaps and, bonus, it’s often a healthier option.

  4. Use discounts and coupons

    Take advantage of discount programs at your local supermarkets and retail shops. Every little saving gets you closer to your goal.

  5. Shop second-hand

    Platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Depop and Gumtree offer great deals on second-hand items. You can find everything from furniture to clothing at a fraction of the cost. And don’t forget about your local Op Shops. They’re still a brilliant place to pick up a bargain.

  6. Cut your expenses

    It’s easy to lose track of app and streaming service subscriptions. Check what you no longer need and cancel your subscriptions. For expenses you can’t do without, like insurances, petrol, electricity etc., shop around for the best deals. A little research could save you heaps each year.

  7. Give yourself a boost

Customers who hold an account with Great Southern Bank can fast-track their savings using a feature called The Boost. Every time they make a card transaction, an amount they set (between one cent and five dollars) is transferred to their savings. It’s an easy and effective way to boost their savings balance.

Start saving for a house

The thought of buying your own home is both exciting and daunting.

Saving for a house deposit can seem out of reach, but as the saying goes: ‘How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time.’  Breaking your goal down into manageable steps is a great place to start.

Here are some of those steps for you to consider.

Set your goals

First, you need to know what’s important to you. Does your future home need to be near public transport, near schools, near work, near family? Can you consider a tree-change to a regional area where homes are cheaper? Do some research on property prices in the areas you’d like to live.

Review your financial position

Your budget will give you a great picture of your income and expenses, but you need to look at your debts as well. Do you have personal loans, credit cards or Buy-Now-Pay-Later debt that needs to be cleared before you can start saving? Understanding your starting point is essential for creating a realistic plan.

Part of this step is learning how much you can afford to borrow to buy a property. Use our home loan calculators to find out your borrowing capacity and likely home loan repayment amount. This will influence the homes and areas that are in your price range.

Use a budget app and savings calculator

You’ll need to figure out how much you need to save each week or month to reach your home deposit goal. You can play around with some figures using our Savings Calculator. Budgeting apps can be particularly useful and are popular with younger people. 21% of Millennials use budgeting apps compared to 16% of all Australians.

Cut costs and increase income

Sounds so simple doesn’t it? But you can find ways to reduce your expenses and explore opportunities to boost your income, such as taking on a second job, side hustle    or freelance work. Be mindful of burning yourself out, though. You still need to live your life.

Use a high-interest savings account

Open a savings account with a high interest rate and no monthly account fee, like a Home Saver Account, specifically for your home deposit. Great Southern Bank savings account customers can take advantage of a feature called The Vault. The Vault reduces the temptation to dip into your savings by locking it away until you reach your goal.

Monitor your progress

Regularly review your savings plan and make adjustments where there are opportunities to save more. Remember, celebrate small milestones to help you stay motivated (just don’t celebrate by spending all your savings).

Saving for retirement

Superannuation is often low on the priority list for young people, but it’s a super-effective way to generate wealth for when you’re older.

Start now to take advantage of compound growth. Even small amounts can turn into a significant investment in the decades to come.

Speak to your employer about the superannuation fund they contribute to. Again, do your research to make sure your fund is performing well and meets, not only your investment goals, but your ethical values too.

Consider making an appointment with a qualified financial advisor to discuss all things super. They can guide you in what can be a complex industry, and it’s money well spent if your super fund produces higher returns.

While you’re looking long-term, it’s worth keeping term deposit accounts in mind. Once you’ve saved a few thousand dollars, A term deposit can give you a higher interest rate than your savings account, with a guaranteed return.

Phew, that’s a lot to take in. So, let’s keep things simple.

  • Start your savings journey by working out your goal and budget
  • Look for opportunities to cut expenses and increase your income
  • Stay the course. Even elephant-sized goals can be achieved a little bite at a time.

Remember, it’s never too late to start saving. Your future-self will thank you.

Important Information

Great Southern Bank, a business name of Credit Union Australia Ltd ABN 44 087 650 959, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence Number 238317. Conditions, fees and charges apply. This is general information and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Consider the appropriateness of the information, including the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) booklet, before acting on it. The Financial Claims Scheme may apply to this product; refer to the T&Cs for more information.

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