The secret to building a savings buffer is to start small and save regularly. It doesn't really matter how much - or how little - you save; you just need to make a start, develop a habit and then keep going.
- Saving as little as $10 or $20 per week, you'll have $520 or even $1,040 by the end of the year.
That's the start of a solid base from which to start saving and give yourself some financial breathing space. More importantly, it’s the start of a habit that can make saving automatic.
The best goals are the ones written down rather than just committed to memory. The act of writing something down and being accountable for it, seeing the numbers and seeing the progress, really helps.
Having a financial goal is a clever way of telling your money what you want it to do for you in the future.
The governments SmartMoney website offers a useful Savings Goal Calculator that’s a good place to start writing down your savings goals.
A budget can help you get a better picture of your finances, allowing you to plug any spending leaks you might find. The government's SmartMoney webiste also offers a Free Budget Planner App (for both IOS and Android) to help out what your household expenses are.
- Where possible have your wages paid directly into your account and automatically transfer some funds to a separate high-interest account with a credit union or a bank. Don’t link your high-interest savings account to your day to day transactional account if you're tempted to spend more than you plan.
- Alternatively, ask your employer's payroll department to transfer part of your wage to your nominated high-interest savings account. What you don’t see you might not be tempted to try and intercept and spend on a big night out. When the ATM displays ‘insufficient funds’ you know it’s time to go home
- Find a savings account that offers bonus interest for each month you don't make a withdrawal, you'll be less likely to touch the money unless it's an emergency.
- Make your money work hard for you before you spend it. If you have a home loan with an offset account, you can use this account to hold your savings while helping reduce the interest you pay on your mortgage. If you have more than 1 offset account consider using the other another to hold your emergency savings. That way, your money will be working to reduce your interest payments and will be available to use if you need it.
Get your spare coin out of your car. Get an empty container and collect your spare change at the end of the week. When the container is full, on even months you can reward yourself with something nice and on odd months deposit the money into your emergency fund. It’s the habit you’re cultivating that’s often more important that the money your initially savings
Set yourself a 30-day challenge to actually see where your money goes. Do that with a friend and compare numbers and notes at the end of the month. You’ll be amazing with the results.