With cost of living on the rise, you may be looking for ways to become more savvy with your money, whether that be to grow your savings, start investing, or pay down debt.
Financial educator Melissa Browne said when people are looking to tighten the purse strings they often start by cutting things out, but she suggests looking for ways to find extra money.
“We know how to tighten our belts but I don’t think we’ve been taught how to find more income. Being more frugal will only get you so far. That’s why I want to teach people how to find more money, not just perpetually try to tighten their belt,” she said.
One important question Browne gets people to ask themselves is: what are you prepared to suffer for? Of course, finding extra income and saving money will involve some level of sacrifice, but it can be a fun exercise.
“It’s about being creative with ways to find more income,” she said.
If you’re keen to find an extra $5K before the end of the year, it’s a good idea to open or assign a bank account to the challenge (even nickname it ‘$5K’ if that helps) so you can watch the total grow.
With the money you earn, you might choose to pay down bad debt, such as a credit card, Afterpay or personal loans. You might want to create a financial buffer of two to three months’ worth of living expenses. You might even consider investing the full amount.
In instances where you save on the amount you spend, transfer the difference to your $5K account. And if you enjoy this challenge so much, you might want to aim for $10K and keep it rolling for 12 months.
Here, Browne shares 50 ways you can find $5000:
Review your ‘leaky bucket’ expenses
It’s important to begin with reviewing your ‘leaky bucket’ expenses. Think of the money you earn as going into a bucket each month. The money you spend is what leaks out, so you want to try to patch up as many of those holes that are causing leakage. Here are six things to review:
- Swap, pause or cancel expenses. This involves you going through six months of your spending and then asking the questions: What can I swap to get something cheaper? What can I pause because I’m no longer using it? What can I cancel? E.g. Can you find a cheaper service for something you routinely pay for? Can you pause a membership you’re not currently using but know you want to return to later? Maybe it’s time to cancel one of your TV subscriptions that you never use?
- Ask for better deals on your current spending. That includes everything from your insurance to utilities to subscriptions and more.
- Unfollow, unfriend and unsubscribe from anyone or anything causing you to spend. This might mean turning down that weekly brunch with a friend because it’s getting too costly to maintain or unsubscribing from that email newsletter that you cannot help yourself from clicking on and making a purchase.
- Extend your current spending by degrees. One example could be if you get your hair cut and coloured every six weeks, extend it out to every 12 weeks.
- Have multiple bank accounts. Make it personal to your financial situation, but usually a minimum of three bank accounts works (one for bills, one for savings, and one everyday account).
- Don’t use credit cards or Afterpay. People spend more when using Afterpay because they justify the purchase by the payment instalment amounts, not the total amount they pay for the item. Ditto credit cards.
With the cost of groceries soaring, there are small things you can do to save money:
- Buy seasonal foods. Fruit and vegetables that are in season are cheaper and taste better.
- Only shop once a week. More trips to the supermarket increases your likelihood of buying and spending more.
- Buy in bulk. Look at the per kilo or per unit price and buy in bulk where it works out cheaper.
- Split your bulk buys with a friend or family member. If you’re single or a couple and want to take advantage of bulk pricing, can you split the cost with a friend, family member or another couple so you can both save?
- Freeze bulk foods to consume later.
- Batch cook meals and freeze them.
- Use technology to find best deals. Apps like Frugl, Half Price and Wiselist allows you to compare prices of everyday items at major grocery outlets.
- Use what you already have in your pantry. Get better at using leftovers or whip up something creative with the ingredients you already have on hand.
Become a professional house sitter. You’ll save on monthly rent that you can rather use to pay down debt or save towards a home deposit. Here are a few platforms to consider:
- Mind A Home. Available Australia-wide, Mind A Home caters to house sitters and home owners.
- Trusted Housesitters. Trusted Housesitters lets you discover free and unique homestays around the world, in exchange for caring for pets.
- Mad Paws. As Australia’s leading pet sitting community, Mad Paws allows you to pet sit at the pet’s home.
If you own your home, there are some smart options for saving money and making money from your property:
- Ask your bank for a better mortgage interest rate. Then diarise it and do this annually.
- Rent out your pool. It’s an asset in your home that might not always get used. Use Swimply, an online marketplace for renting a private swimming pool.
- Rent out your driveway or car space. This particularly applies if you live in an area where parking is in high demand. Try Spacer for this.
- Take on a boarder.
- Rent out your granny flat.
- Rent out your house when you go on holidays. Try Home Exchange.
- Do a house swap when you go on holidays. Try Aussie House Swap.
- Find the cheapest days to buy fuel. Often it is Tuesday or Wednesday, but keep an eye on prices in your area for the cheapest days to fill up.
- Use fuel apps to find better deals. Try Motor Mouth, Fuel Map, Fair Fuel or state-based apps like FuelCheck NSW.
- Use a fuel app or dockets for discounts. Fuel stations like Ampol and 7-Eleven have apps that allow you to save on fuel. Coles and Woolworths offer petrol discounts on dockets.
- Looks for discounted fares on public transport. Travel during off-peak times to score a discounted fare. Purchasing a weekly or monthly fare can often save you money too.
- Rent out your car when not using it. Check that the insurance policy covers additional drivers, of course. Try Car Next Door for this.
- Rent out your caravan when not using it. Use Campify and Camptoo to rent out your caravan.
Entertainment and leisure
For those not willing to completely cut out entertainment and leisure, there are some big savings available if you make some savvy swaps or look for deals:
- Swap movie night to Tuesdays. Commonly known as ‘Tightarse Tuesdays’, a date night at the movies on a Tuesday will cost half as much as any other night of the week.
- Swap going out for dinner to going out for brunch. Brunch is a hell of a lot cheaper than dinner, and you can easily cut the cost of alcohol that often comes with dinner.
- Find free local activities. It could be bush walks or coastal walks, a museum, a garden. Take a look at Broadsheet, Time Out and Urban List for ideas in your city.
- Eat out for less. If you don’t want to give up eating out, try eating out for less. Look for local specials. The EatClub app shares last-minute dining deals near you.
- Look for end-of-day discounted food. Some cafes and food outlets will package up leftover meals in the late afternoon and sell them for a few dollars rather than have it go to waste. It could make for a cheap takeaway dinner that night.
- Drink for free. Find free wine tastings at local liquor stores, restaurants and other outlets.
- Drink for less. The Happiest Hour app will help you find the best drink specials in town.
- Don’t be loyal when flying. Choose the airline with the best deal for the flight. Skyscanner can help you to compare pricing.
How to claim extra money
These tips offer ways to claim money back through certain programs, or using round-up apps and sites to invest, save and pay down your debt.
- Make the most of your tax return. Each year, see what you are eligible to claim and don’t delay lodging your tax return. Then, be intentional about what you are going to do with that money – pay off your debt, transfer it to your $5K savings account, or invest it.
- Use Honey coupons. Honey is a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout with a single click.
- Use ShopBack. ShopBack allows you to find offers and discount coupons, and earn cash back on purchases.
- Use Cashrewards. When you shop at your stores through Cashrewards, you can earn a cash back percentage from those retailers.
- Use Raiz. Raiz allows you to automatically invest your spare change.
- Use Super Rewards. Use the round-up feature on Super Rewards togrow your superannuation.
- Use Wisr. Use the round-up feature to pay off your debt with Wisr.
- Use apps to change your money behaviour. Chime rounds up and automatically transfers a percentage of your salary to savings, investment or paying off debt. Digit, Qapital and Finder are other apps you can use for effortless budgeting, saving and investing.
Take on extra work
- Look for a second job or casual gig. You can do this in the short-term to reach your $5K goal or keep it up if you have a bigger goal. Become an Uber driver, deliver food for UberEats or Deliveroo, or hire yourself out on platforms like Airtasker and Upwork. Find more ideas for side-hustles
- Get paid to look at websites. TestMate and UserTesting will pay you to browse and test websites and is a good option if you have pockets of spare time to earn some extra money.
- Get paid for your computer skills. Got good computer skills? Get paid to share them via a platform like ReadyTechGo.
- Participate in focus groups and mystery shopping. See Askable and The Realise Group for more information.
TELL US: Do you have any savvy or creative ways to save money, find discounts, or make extra income? Share your tips in the comments section below.