Australians urged to develop a ‘savings’ mindset as credit card debt begins to climb – this is the ultimate guide to being cheap!
Envious of your financially adept peers who pay off their credit cards monthly, are faithful to their mortgage repayments, and can still holiday every year? Have you, in contrast, unwittingly contributed to the additional $230 million of credit card debt this May through wanton spending? If ‘excessive’ is your middle name and you equate ‘savings’ with a credit limit increase, then this guide is for you.
Leading financial-product comparison site Finder.com.au brings you the ultimate three-stage guide to tightening your purse and creating savings – from developing the right mindset to utilising clever financial tactics – that will have you breathing easier.
“With credit card debt rising by 0.46 per cent since April, and with credit card interest averaging 19.55% p.a., many Australians are paying enormous amounts of interest unnecessarily,” says Jeremy Cabral, financial expert at Finder.com.au. “Now is the time to take control – even if you have to become a self-labelled cheapskate for a limited time. I’m urging Australians to assess their current outgoings today and learn how a tiny change can have a huge impact on not only debt reduction but on savings.
Finder.com.au’s three-stage guide to creating savings
- Make your goal emotive, and share it. We develop an emotional connection with the small luxuries we buy for ourselves – why not our big financial goals? Give an image or name to your goal and place it where you will see it daily and feel motivated to achieve it. Share your goals with friends and family to reduce any pressure on you to spend unnecessarily, and to create some support.
- Know your spending weaknesses. In your world, does ‘Westfield’ equate with ‘weak at the knees’? Do you have VIP status on multiple shopping sites? Give yourself boundaries and steer clear from situations that encourage you to spend. Restrict your internet usage in your personal time and never save your credit card details on shopping sites, the more effort required, the less you’re likely to buy.
- Review your bills. Do you baulk at your monthly bills, and yet never question their rates? You can save up to $150 per month by auditing bills and switching suppliers. Often, by bundling services, you can get a discount. Likewise, every year shop around for better car and health insurance before it’s time to renew.
- Avoid buying at full price. Waiting a few weeks for an item to go on sale will help control impulse shopping, and create much-needed discipline. If you do need to buy, take the time to search for deals within coupons, promotions and discount codes. For further information on Finder.com.au or to source shopping deals visit Finder.com.au/deals
- Paying for services that you can DIY? Taking a regular beauty routine out of the salon and into your home can save you more than $1000 a year, and exercising with a friend in place of a gym membership can save another $1000. If you normally spend big at the pub, think about inviting friends over, and ask them to BYOG.
- Avoid spending big in a group. Are you overly generous? Picking up the tab for drinks, taxis, movie tickets and the like may have helped you into debt in the first place. When your friends know you have a savings goal, you’ll feel less pressured to help them out, and they may even support you.
Work off bad debts:
- Pay off credit cards before saving. While it can be satisfying to begin saving straightaway, it’s best to pay off card debt first. You will pay more interest on your debt than any interest you may earn from a high interest savings account. What’s more, paying off debt will train you to save: you can turn your debt repayment amounts into monthly savings.
- Stick to a repayment plan. Create a budgeting plan around the payment dates of all your bills, so you won’t incur late-payment fees. On credit cards, missing a repayment will not only incur a fee of up to $30 on some cards, but will disable any interest-free days in your next statement period and will continue to build your debt as a result.
- Pay off your smallest debt first. If you carry multiple credit cards, aim to pay off the one with the smallest amount of debt and close it. The repayment amounts can then be directed at the next card. Use this momentum to continue to pay down your debt quickly and develop a healthy debt-reduction ‘addiction’.
- Take up a balance transfer offer. Many cards offer between six to 12 months zero-interest balance transfer offers. On a $10,000 credit card debt, this could save you up to $850 over six months. Two competitive cards right now are the ANZ Low Rate card (0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for nine months and a $58 annual fee) and the HSBC Credit Card (0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for six months and $0 annual fee).
- Consolidate your debts. Have a bunch of different credit cards and personal loans? Managing your budget will be easier with one monthly payment, and will reduce bank fees.
Develop a savings mindset:
- Develop an addiction for saving. Watching your debt reduce and savings grow can develop a relish for it not unlike that experienced when you have a shopping addiction. Give yourself at least three months to experience it.
- Switch regularly across high interest savings accounts. These accounts often offer an introductory rate of up to 4.76% p.a. interest for a few months and are fee-free. After the introductory period, open another high interest savings account and transfer your savings. Again, there should be no fees involved, and you can continue enjoying a high rate. You can continue in this way until you have met your savings goal. Two competitive savings accounts are the ING DIRECT Savings Maximiser (4.75% p.a. interest for four months with a 0.75% p.a. bonus for balance increases of $200 per month) and the RaboDirect High Interest Savings Account (4.76% p.a. interest for four months, and 3.5% p.a. thereafter).
For further information visit Finder.com.au