But even on an average income, Brisbane financial adviser and author of On Your Own Two Feet, Helen Baker, says there are small changes you can make that have a big impact.
Here are the 17 easy changes you can make that can save you $16,000 a year:
1. Review your insurances, utility bills, subscriptions and memberships. Cancel any non-essential services and ring the providers. Let them know you’re looking for a better deal and ask what they can do for you. You’ll be surprised how quickly they respond once they know you’re considering jumping ship. You could save $1,000 a year across these services.
2. Review your debts to ensure they’re structured efficiently to minimise the interest. Speak to your bank or a mortgage broker and ask what’s possible. If you have a home loan of $500,000 at an interest rate of 4.5 per cent, you’ll pay $412,034 in interest over 30 years. Reduce it by 0.25% and you’ll save $26,452 over the life of the loan. That’s almost $1,000 a year.
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3. Pay your bills during the discount period. Many bills, such as council rates and car registration, offer a discount for early payment. You could save more than $250 per year on rates if you pay within the discount period and around $70 on registration.
4. Review your mobile phone plan. Do you really need the $160 per month plan that seemed suitable when you signed up for it? Perhaps the $80 plan would suit just as well. It takes time to sort out, but it could save you $960 a year.
5. Pay personal debts as quickly as possible to minimise interest. Pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, then channel those repayments into the next one. Is the interest rate for your car loan higher than your home loan rate? Focus on paying the car loan as quickly as possible and you could save thousands in interest.
6. Don’t fall into the credit card points trap. Points are not free. In fact, many rewards programs are aimed at making you spend more than necessary. Rewards credit cards usually have higher interest rates and annual fees, too. Consider switching to a lower rate card with no annual fee and you could save $250 a year.
7. Purchase Christmas and birthday gifts during the year when they’re on sale. Buy when stores are offering bargains and you will easily save $500.
8. Buy clothes in the season changeover period when most stores offer sale prices. Consider buying that beautiful winter coat at the end of winter or picking up a new swimsuit when the weather is cooling down. You could save around $750 a year.
9. Don’t smoke. It’s an expensive habit which also increases your insurance premiums. You’ll also reduce the cost of income protection, life insurance, and total and permanent disability cover. This could save you $2,500 in premiums each year.