finance

Struggling to save? 'Sprint goals' could help you stash more money by the end of the month.

Saving money can be hard. 

It's a long game, and the end is typically pretty unclear. There are temptations along the way and a hypothetical "10 years from now" can feel too far away to worry about. 

But what if it wasn't?

Watch: 3 money hacks that don't cut out your daily cup of coffee. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

This week on Mamamia's money podcast, What the Finance, finance expert Melissa Browne covers all things savings and debt with co-host, Pallavi Sharda.

And she shares a super handy way to make saving money easier to manage. 

Mel wants you to set 'sprint goals' when it comes to your savings. Because not all of us are built for marathons.

Listen: Finance expert Melissa Browne shares her best saving tips. Post continues after audio...

"Think of 'doing money well' in 30 to 90 days sprints," she says.

"What can you do for the next 30 days? It might be, finding an extra $834 worth of income outside of your regular income, which would allow for an extra $10,000 a year, or canceling just one subscription service."

Set a financial goal, big or small that you can work towards in short bursts.

Some examples are:

  • Saving $5,000 by the end of the quarter, whether it's by reducing expenses or increasing income.
  • Searching for a better deal on your utilities.
  • Renting out your driveway.
  • Offering your services on Airtasker.
  • Renting or selling your clothes.

That's the art of the sprint. There's a definitive start and end to your goal that will leave you with some extra cash to go towards your savings.

But wait, what are we saving for again? Good question.

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Mel says the reason so many people fail to get a decent savings balance is due to an unclear goal. But she's got a few more tips for that too.

To best save money, you've got to get really clear about where you want to be in 12 months, or anywhere up to 10 years.

Maybe you can see yourself on a year-long trip to Greece or owning your own home. Whatever most excites you, is your savings goals.

Once you've got that covered, keep it front of mind when you're working towards it each day. Having the clarity should make life (and saving) much easier.

There are also a few other handy tips we took away from this episode. Here are some of our favourites:

You need four bank accounts.

"Setting up bank accounts and automating them is a really great way to make sure you're not in charge of the cookie pot," Mel explains.

"It's really hard to exercise self-control when you have all your money in one place."

If you can set up four different bank accounts, you can also remove the decision-making and pressure that comes with spending money.

So, Mel suggests one for bills, one for savings, a "buffer" account and an everyday account.

Firstly, you need to add up your regular expenses and automate the total cost of them to your "Bills" account.

Next, Mel wants you decide how much money you want to save (regularly) and automate any given amount to your savings account. 

Reminder: Keep your financial goals in mind here. How much will it take (say, monthly) to reach your long-term goals? Automate this cost.

Your buffer account should hold about three months' worth of bills. This doesn't necessarily need to be automated, but should be a priority while you're still building your wealth. 

The final account is your everyday account, and is made up of whatever is leftover. 

Yep, it really is that simple.

There's good, okay, bad, and f**king awful debt. 

So, what's what? 

Awful debt: Payday loans.

Payday loans are short-term unsecured loans, often characterised by their huge interest rates. 

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"The rate of interest on them is extreme," Mel explains.

"They're an expensive, absolute last resort, and if you've used those, there are alternatives."

Mel suggests Good Shepherd Microfinance Loans, who offer interest-free loans and financial counsellors to their clients in times of emergency. 

Bad debt: Credit Cards and Buy Now Pay Later schemes

"They cause us to overspend," Mel says.

"1 in 4 users pay some sort of penalty when it comes to credit cards and buy now pay later schemes."

So, best to avoid them where you can. Full stop.

Okay debt: Mortgages and university loans

"Whilst it's not something you can make money from, it is an asset," Mel says of the house you buy with a mortgage debt. 

University HELP loans are also "okay" because of the super low interest rates.

Good debt: Investment property, businesses, and shares.

"Good debt comes from something that is hopefully going to go up in value," Mel says.

In short: investments. 

If you're using debt to invest in something that will (hopefully) appreciate in value, it's probably "good".

Despite the differing names, Mel says okay and good debt are important to get comfortable with. Be careful not to fear any and all debt, as many serve a fair purpose.

And, if you're in debt Mel suggest you pay it back in that same order.

Now, you're good to go. Get saving and paying off your debt: it's a great day to be financially literate.

Want some more resources? Westpac has a few tools that can help. For more check out the links below.

Managing Money Guide

Budget Planner

Cost cutting checklist

Essential guide to building an emergency fund

Feature Image: Getty.