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6 tools and products that can help with your money resolutions for 2021


Set yourself up for financial success in the New Year with these easy tips you can use for any goal.

Sponsored by the NAB StraightUp Card, an Australian-first credit card with no interest ever, late payment fees or foreign currency fees – just a simple monthly fee. Plus, if you don't make any purchases and have an outstanding
balance of $0 during the whole statement period NAB will reverse your monthly fee. Learn more.

If 2020 has put you on the back foot financially, now is a great time to start planning your next steps in the right direction. Maybe you want to buy a home, save more money or pay off debt. Or maybe you just want a simple and easy way to manage your spending and keep track of everything.

Whatever goals you have, here are six ways to help you get there.

1. Shop around for better deals

Let's face it: even if you have huge savings goals, you're still going to spend some money to get what you want. Maybe it's getting food delivery once a week, buying a fabulous new pair of shoes or taking the family out for a day of fun. While these purchases might not technically be "essential", if they help you feel recharged in some way, it can be worth it.

But when you do decide to splurge, it's key to look for ways to manage the costs. This could be as simple as checking the latest sales and deals before you hit the "buy" button. If you know what you want ahead of time, you could be more savvy and actually choose how you pay for something.

For example, if you're buying something from a retailer in the UK or US, there's a chance your debit card or credit card will charge a foreign transaction fee to convert the cost to Australian dollars. Choosing an account that doesn't charge this fee, such as the NAB StraightUp Card, could save you around 2–3% for this type of purchase.

Something else to keep in mind here is that value can be subjective. Where one person might think spending $300 on a pair of shoes is a bargain, someone else might be seeking out $30 shoes. The same goes for choosing how to pay for something. While some people prefer to pay by debit card, others might opt for a credit card or an interest-free option.

There have been some big changes to how we spend money in 2020, including wider use of mobile payments, QR codes and even credit cards that have no interest ever, like the NAB StraightUp Card, which just has a simple monthly fee instead.

2. Explore fee waivers

Some accounts will waive regular fees when you meet a set of conditions. The details are different for each account, but usually tie in with your spending, how you use the account or your financial situation.

As an example, NAB will reverse your monthly fee on the NAB StraightUp Card if you don't make any purchases and keep a $0 balance in your whole statement period. This can be handy if you want a card that you only pay for when you use it.

There are also home loans that offer waivers or savings when you bundle accounts together, accounts that waive fees if you're a full-time student and – outside of banking – some utility companies that offer discounted or waived costs if you have a concession card or seniors card.

Not all of these options take your fees to $0, but they can still help you save tens or even hundreds of dollars each year.

3. Track your money with an app

Actually seeing where your money goes gives you a way to make changes that get you closer to your goals. The old school way of doing this is with a spreadsheet or budget template you fill out, but now there are also plenty of apps that make it easier to track. (Often, they're prettier to look at too).

You may already have one on your phone: many bank apps include an "analytics" tool that gives you a breakdown of different spending and savings categories.

For example, the NAB app lets you see exactly where your money is going, set transaction notifications and even store receipts for warranty or tax purposes. It also lets you set and track different savings goals, with handy estimates of how long it will take you to reach them.

If you want to be more hands-on with your money or have a side-hustle business you want to keep track of as well, you can check out other budgeting software for more custom tools.
A woman lying on a lounge, cuddling a puppy and looking at her phone.

4. Open (at least one) savings account

If you want to buy a home, a car, plan for a big holiday or just have some emergency cash stored away, a savings account is a valuable tool because it keeps that money separate from what you're spending. Any interest earned is a bonus because it can help you get a little closer to your goal (or, at the moment, maybe just encourage you from the sidelines).

It can also be helpful to think about how many accounts you want. Some people open savings accounts for each major goal, while others have a single account for all their savings. There's no right or wrong option here, but you might find one works better for you and your goals.

5. Automate your payments

You probably already have payments that automatically come out of your account each month (think streaming services or your gym membership). But you can also automate payments to help you pay off debt or save more money.

For example, lots of credit cards have an auto-pay option that lets you choose between paying the total owing, a fixed dollar amount or the minimum amount each month.

So if one of your goals is to pay off your credit card, you could set up auto-pay and choose a repayment amount that's affordable. Or, if you've been caught out by late payments in the past, you could choose auto-pay for the minimum and then make extra repayments at any time through BPAY. Either way, it gives you options to "set and forget" as you pay down the debt.

On the flipside, if you have a goal to save more money, see if your everyday account has an option for scheduling transfers. Lots of banks include this feature in their apps or Internet banking, and it's a simple way to start building up your savings (or stick to your savings plan). Tip: Set up the transfer so it comes out a few days after you get paid to help make sure there's enough money in the bank.
A couple having breakfast together in a garden.

6. Refunds and chargebacks

In 2020, most of us had to cancel or change some plans because of COVID-19 restrictions. It has made people more aware of their rights around refunds, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reporting 109,446 complaints in the first 10 months of the year.

While "getting money back" might not be on your list of goals for 2021, refunds can make a difference to your savings and bank balance. What's more, knowing your rights as a consumer gives you more control over how you're reimbursed – and can help you avoid losing deposits or paying fees.

According to the ACCC, when a cancellation is due to government restrictions, your rights to either a refund or a credit will depend on the terms and conditions of your booking. So the first step should be to contact the business and talk about your options.

If you can't come to an agreement with them, some of the options you can look at include:

You can also use these options if you want a refund for any items that you buy. What this tip really comes down to is: the more you know about your rights, the more likely you are to get your money back or find a better deal.

Keen to learn more about the NAB StraightUp card? Read our full review here. Want more inspiration to kick-start your New Year? Check out these insights from money expert Lisa Montgomery.

This article is sponsored by NAB, but the views and opinions expressed are Finder's and do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by NAB of any non-NAB commercial products or services mentioned in this article.

Consider the NAB Internet Banking T&Cs (available at before making any decisions regarding this product. Minimum platform requirements apply. Product issued by NAB.

NAB StraightUp Card Terms and Conditions apply (available at Monthly fee may be payable. Approval and credit limit are subject to NAB's credit assessment criteria. Information, including fees are subject to change. NAB StraightUp Card and the NAB App are issued by National Australia Bank Limited ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 230686.

Pictures: Getty Images

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