Australians owe a whopping $145 billion in personal debt – and the number continues to climb. But how can we get our own house in order? We can stop wasting money – and it’s far easier than giving up avocado toast. (You should cut down on it, just in case.) Here are four ways you’re wasting money, and how to stop.
- Using convenience over do-it-yourself
Yes, it’s easier than ever to get a Big Mac or slice of pizza delivered to your door in the middle of the night. Services like Menulog and Uber Eats have turned “comfort eating” into an artform. Getting groceries or packages delivered to your door is also convenient – but it is costing you money. If you order Uber Eats once a week, every week, that’s $260 a year you’re spending on delivery charges. Not to mention the inflated prices for the food that restaurants pass on to make their offering profitable. If you want to save money, pick the food up – or make it yourself from fresh ingredients.
- Paying too much for utilities
The cost of electricity rose 72% between 2003 and 2013 and are estimated to rise 3% each year for the foreseeable future. Despite relative competition in the market, many households have never switched energy retailers – 56% of Australians according to Energy Consumers Australia's Consumer Sentiment Survey (average of all state figures.) Electricity is electricity – if you can switch providers and get a better deal, do it. Same goes for mobile providers, internet, gas; anything that has a market for it.
- Paying too much interest on your mortgage
With the official interest rates at historic lows, you can save a lot of money in the long-term by refinancing your home loan with a lower rate. This could save you thousands in interest over time. If you haven’t looked at your home loan rate for a while, there’s no better time to switch. You can negotiate with your current lender or use a broker to find a home loan package that’ll save you more. Remember to consult with a financial professional before making any major decisions about your mortgage.
- Paying too much interest on credit cards
If you’re paying your minimum amount on your credit card each month, you may as well not pay it at all. Look at it this way – if you have a $5,000 balance with 19% p.a. in interest and only pay the minimum, you’d be looking at paying over $20,000 total over 38 years, over 15,000 of that in interest. If you increased your payments to $248, you’d only look at paying $5,955 all up. Switching credit cards to a lower rate with a 0%p.a. offer on a balance transfer can help you save more interest. If you have multiple credit cards, a consolidation loan can help wrangle the debts. See your own results at MoneySmart.
- Paying for services you don’t use
It could be the gym; it could be a streaming service; it could be a magazine subscription; if you are paying for services you either don’t use or have little time for, cut it out of your life. There is no point paying for something you don’t use. You can’t buy a holiday for the family with guilt – but you can with savings!
Bonus tip: Stop the coffee runs each day. $3-4 for a latte each morning can add up big time. Buying a 250g pouch of espresso coffee will run you $10-20 and making some for yourself and a partner will still last two to three weeks. Do the maths!