How to be more money savvy – without the scary spreadsheets
Keen to keep track of your money but not sure where to start? Don't worry, we've got some hacks that'll make your life easier.
If you're not great at keeping track of your finances, there are a few things you should know. First, you're not alone and you shouldn't be too hard on yourself.
Many of us were told it's not polite to talk about money, and the Australian schooling system imparts relatively little wisdom about the world of personal finance.
It's no surprise then, that the majority of Australians aren't on top of their money. In fact, a Finder survey of 25,000 Aussies found that 73% of us are either somewhat or extremely stressed about our current financial situation.
But you also need to know that just because you're not money savvy right now, doesn't mean you can't be money savvy tomorrow. (Okay, it might take a bit longer than a day to nail everything, but you can definitely be better by tomorrow).
And we're here to help with some of the basics. Remember, start with small changes and over time you might just find yourself giving the Barefoot Investor a run for his money. Maybe.
Find a bank with a decent app
It's 2021, people. If you don't love your bank's mobile app, it's time to switch to one you do love.
More and more banks are bringing their A-game when it comes to apps, and they can be an easy way to keep track of your money and better understand your spending.
For example, Virgin Money's app lets users set budgets, track spending, and see upcoming bills. It also lets customers enable automatic round ups to help with saving. (We'll talk more about these later).
Security is key too. So keep your eyes peeled for high-end security features, includes such as fingerprint-, face- or iris-recognition technology.
Open a high-interest savings account
Whether you're just starting out on your savings journey or you've already built up an impressive little nest egg, you should absolutely open a high-interest savings account. It's a no-brainer.
Take this scenario, for example. You have $29,000 saved – that's the average amount of savings we each have according to a Finder survey of over 25,000 Australians.
Right now, it's sitting in your everyday transaction account, not earning any interest. That nest egg isn't going to get any bigger on its own. But if you switched to a high-interest savings account, such as Virgin Money's Boost Saver, you could claim as much as 1% interest p.a. (bundled with a Virgin Money Go Transaction Account; monthly criteria and T&Cs apply).
Thanks to compounding interest, you could earn an extra $291 a year.
Use a spend tracker
Some banks are now offering spend trackers and tailored reports for everyday bank accounts. It means you can see exactly where your money is going, without having to waste hours creating confusing spreadsheets or poring over bank statements.
It's really easy to overlook where you're spending too much money - but when it's all laid in front of you, it's pretty hard to ignore that huge spend on Uber Eats, especially if it's getting bigger every month.
Use a bill tracker
Even if you've been paying the same bills for years, it's still possible to have one sneak up on you and arrive just when your bank balance is looking a little low.
For example, my rent is paid weekly, my gym membership is paid fortnightly, subscriptions are paid monthly, utilities are paid quarterly and insurances are paid annually. Phew.
Keep track of them with a bill tracker and you can plan ahead to build those expenses into your budget. No more sudden shocks or scrambling to settle red letters.
Round-ups are a great way to save without much effort. Activate them in your banking app and whenever you make a purchase, it'll be rounded up to the nearest dollar.
The spare change is then sent to a dedicated savings account. So if you buy something for $5.50, you'll automatically save 50 cents.
It might not seem like much, and you probably won't even notice, but it's a great place to start if you struggle with saving.
Staying on top of your money can seem daunting, but gradually making small changes and taking advantage of simple tools can make a big difference in the long run.
Don't be put off. The sooner you take control of your finances, the sooner you'll be reaping the rewards.