finance

Five money hacks that will make your New Years resolutions a reality.

You’ve probably had it up to here with cliche money resolutions for the New Year, with businesses and providers telling you to “consolidate your debt”, or to “review your household budget”, but what are some unusual or more quirky ways you can save coin in 2017?

Whether it’s being conscious of the holiday tax during peak periods and school holidays, parting with unhealthy (and expensive habits), or making the most of complimentary services offered on your existing financial accounts, here are some practical ways to save money this year.

piggy bank
Good to see you again, savings. Source: iStock.

1. Use the shared economy.

Making the most of the shared economy has become one of the “trendier” ways to make a few extra bucks. Whether it’s signing up to become an Uber driver, using Airtasker, or renting out a spare bedroom in your property, there are multiple ways you can draw on the shared economy to boost your income.

A recent finder.com.au analysis revealed there are seven million spare bedrooms across the nation which represents $1.4 billion in untapped real estate. If we break this down to an individual level, renting out a spare room in your property could contribute $808.24 to your monthly income stream. If the space is sitting there idle and unused anyway, it’s a no-brainer.

However, if you plan to use the sharing economy this year, chat to your accountant as the income you earn will form part of your taxable income.

airbnb scams
It's time to get sharing and start saving. Source: iStock.
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2. Dodge the holiday tax.

Inflated prices for just about everything are pretty prevalent this time of year and also during long weekends and school holidays, so keep your wits about if you’re travelling during peak periods throughout the year.

Australian travellers could be paying 103 per cent more over the peak holiday period, according to a new finder.com.au study, so if possible, consider travelling during off-peak seasons to avoid inflated prices.

To steer clear of the holiday tax, plan ahead and carefully consider what you’re paying for flights, accommodation, and other travel-related costs.

You should also be aware of public holiday surcharges as many service providers issue this tax on public holidays, such as Australia Day or Anzac Day.

This tax can often range from 10-20 per cent of your total spend, so if possible, rethink your need to dine out on public holidays.

Meet the couple who took care of their financial business and retired in their 30s. Post continues... 

3. Be creative about earning frequent flyer points.

You don’t necessarily have to jump on a plane to earn frequent flyer points. In fact, you can earn points on several everyday transactions by doing things like signing up to a new mobile phone plan, joining a new gym, or switching insurance providers, which can earn you thousands of reward points with major airlines such as Qantas and Virgin Australia.

One way to earn points faster is to ‘double dip’ where you earn points through two separate reward programs for the same transaction.

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For instance, Woolworths offers points in-store, which can be converted to Qantas frequent flyer points, and when you buy the same groceries with a rewards credit card, you can earn points through the credit card spend too. Typically, you earn 1 point per each dollar spent.

However, if you’re putting a lot of purchases on your credit card, be mindful of racking up excessive interest charges on your plastic debt. Although earning frequent flyer and reward points can be useful, things won’t be looking too peachy if you wind up with high-interest charges you can’t comfortably repay.

Spend it wisely and well. Image via iStock.

4. Give up unhealthy habits.

Quitting unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking or gambling could greatly increase your savings which can allow you to fast-track your way out of debt.

For example, if you’re forking out $75 per week on cigarettes (this is being pretty conservative), and you have a $375,000 mortgage with 5.5 per cent interest over 30 years and used the $300 to make extra monthly repayments, you could save $74,673 in interest. You could also reduce your loan term by a whopping five years and eight months.

Toning down your alcohol intake or gambling habits could also allow you to reap significant financial (and lifestyle) benefits in the new year, with many insurance and credit providers are now offering discounts if you wear wearable technology such as fitbits or if you walk a certain number of steps per day.

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New year, new you. Source: iStock.

5. The festive personal assistant you didn’t realise you had.

Leveraging a credit card concierge service can help ease financial pressure throughout the year, and this often overlooked credit card feature is nothing to sneeze at.

Just like a personal assistant, you can call upon your concierge service and ask them to do just about anything, and what better time to take advantage of this than at the beginning of a new year?

From booking concert tickets to grocery shopping and booking an overseas trip, this is an underutilised benefit of premium credit cards that can save you time and money. (There are several credit cards that come with complimentary concierge services, but typically they are "platinum" products.)

Finally, making the most of early bird offers, shopping coupon codes, online competitions, and membership rewards, are worth checking out to help you save money and stay on track with your budgeting.

If you think beyond traditional money-saving methods, you can find ways to save money that you wouldn’t have previously thought of.

Leveraging the sharing economy, refusing to pay the holiday tax, taking advantage of the features and perks of existing accounts, and forgoing unhealthy habits are just a few ways you can pocket some extra money in 2017.

So here's to a better new year!

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