There are two ways to looking at growing the number in your savings account: ways to save money and ways to earn money.
First, it helps to know where your money is going. Using Apps like PocketBook and Money Brilliant can help you track your finances. These apps link up with your bank account and any loans or credit cards you have to track the money coming in and living your accounts each month. It’ll even break down your expenses into categories like food, entertainment, and more.
Even just signing up with money tracking app can help you pinpoint areas where you are spending money without realizing it.
Once you’ve got your monthly expenses in hand, here are six lifestyle changes you can make to up your savings and invest in your future.
Quit a bad habit
This is where the classic ‘stop drinking expensive lattes’ advice comes into the picture. However, for you, your Achilles heel might not be expensive lattes, but drinks at a bar, cigarettes, or eating out. If you’re spending $5 a day on a flat white from your favourite café, that translates to $2,000 a year draining out of your pocket on coffee.
The good news is that there are often cheaper or free alternatives to these so-called bad habits. Eschew bar hopping to make signature cocktails at home. Make coffee in the morning, but jazz it up with your own flavourings.
Pick up a free hobby
The good news is, now that you’ve given up a bad habit, you can use a new hobby to keep you busy.
It is so easy to spend money when you’re bored. Shopping on a sunny Saturday might be one of your favourite activities, but it’s not your bank account’s favourite activity. Starting a free hobby can have twofold benefits: help distract you when you might be shopping or eating out and chances are, it might also be some good exercise. Free hobbies you might consider are running, reading (get your books from a library), hiking, geocaching, writing, drawing, and yoga.
Go out during happy hour
This list isn’t intended to make you miserable. There’s value in going out with your friends, even if it doesn’t directly correlate to the number in your bank account. That being said, creating a habit of meeting up for social outings during happy hour is a great way to take advantage of the food and ambiance of swankier places without peak hour prices.
Pick up a side hustle
This falls into the ‘increase your income’ side of putting more money where it belongs – in your pocket. If you have skills or resources that could bring in money, it’s time to put those skills to use. Online apps like Uber and Taskrabbit might be top of mind, but you can get creative. Everything from selling wares at a local market to starting your own business are open to you.
Diversifying your income streams is a great way to create a stable, financial base. It sets you up for success because the future is never certain. (See our Ultimate List of Sharing Economy Platforms for Australians)
Start walking or biking
Not only does walking or biking reduce the amount of carbon emissions in the air, it also reduces your expenses. Car expenses, that is. In metropolitan areas like Sydney and Melbourne, are cars are expensive, luxury items. In addition to the car payment itself (if you don’t own outright), you also have to fork over cash for insurance, maintenance, and repairs. If you can make the switch and ditch your car, you can save thousands of dollars a year and do the environment a solid too.
Hang out with people you admire
Research has shown that you tend to imitate the habits of the people around you. Which means start hanging out with rich people!
All kidding aside, surrounding yourself with people that make good money and handle their finances well might not only rub off on you, but will give you new opportunities for investments and advice that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Exposure to people netting large salaries or nurturing large investment portfolios can help influence your thinking, offer new ideas, and improve your own finance game just by pure osmosis.
Just like with other major lifestyle changes, it is important to make small, sustainable steps that you well into the future. Putting yourself on a Spartan budget will only make you miserable and more likely to succumb to a massive splurge. Consciously choosing how you spend your money instead of mindlessly consuming will reduce your expenses and increase your happiness.