Whether it’s spending less on eating out or kicking that pesky online shopping habit, many of us aim to be more fiscally responsible as we roll into a new calendar year. A noble quest - but if you find yourself setting vague goals like ‘save more in 2022’ or ‘stop buying stuff’ without a real strategy, it might be time to double down on the specifics. Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled a list of things to try to kickstart your serious savings plan.
Set a savings goal
Set yourself a savings goal, choose a timeframe and commit! Bonus points if it’s an emotional goal (a goal tied to something you really want to achieve) as you’re more likely to prioritise it over wasteful spending. Locked savings accounts can be your best friend here because you have to give up to three months notice (depending on the account) to withdraw funds. Sayonara, impulsive buying.
The ‘B’ word… budget
This one’s important, folks. Set a monthly, weekly or fortnightly budget, based on when you get paid. Be sure to allow room for entertainment and socialising so there are no nasty surprises. Remember, your budget should be realistic if you’re planning to stick to it. If you cut back too much, you run the risk of a blowout later. Your budget should prioritise the things that bring you joy and cut out the unnecessary.
Don’t make saving goals you’ll never stick to. You don’t expect to get fit by setting a New Year’s resolution to run a marathon a day. Similarly, you’re most likely to save effectively by setting goals you can actually stick to. Once you’ve reviewed your spending, figure out how much you can realistically and sustainably set aside - then stick with it!
Try spend-tracking apps
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Get a handle on your habits with an app which tracks your spending automatically. Some banks offer this or you can try a third-party option. Now you can sift out what’s important to you and what you could happily do without!
Separate your accounts
Do you find yourself squinting at your account balance, mentally calculating how much you have left to spend after your gym membership, Netflix subscription, and rent comes out and you’ve paid that parking fine you keep forgetting about? An easy way to keep tabs on your discretionary spending is to separate it completely from your predictable monthly expenses by opening an additional account.
Declutter and sell
Go on, make Marie Kondo proud. Get rid of things that no longer spark joy. Yes, that includes those jeans you have been telling yourself you’ll squeeze into when you lose weight. Let it go.
Check you’re in the right KiwiSaver fund
Being in the wrong KiwiSaver fund for you could be costing you some serious coin - we’re talking potentially thousands. Use BetterSaver’s fund finder tool to choose a better performing fund that also aligns with your goals and values.
Max out the government contribution!
Did you know for every dollar you put into your KiwiSaver the government matches you with 50 cents? It caps at $521 so as long as you put in $1042 a year you get the maximum amount.
How many hours did I work?
When you want to buy something, ask yourself how many hours of work it would take to buy that. If your hourly rate is $25, then those $150 shoes will cost you 6 hours worth of wages. Yikes.
Check and cancel subscriptions
Subscribed to Audible for a free trial and then forgot about it? Cull all of the subscriptions you no longer need, or downgrade your plans. Pro tip: Get cheaper subscriptions by sharing with other people.
Set up account alerts
Notifications can be annoying, but less so when they are helping you become a better saver. Set up notifications for when your bank account drops below a certain balance.
Set up automatic payments into your savings account
You don’t want to overspend just because you forgot to transfer money over to your savings account. Set up automatic payments for the amount you want to save and let technology be your friend!
Use restaurant discounts
Your pals have invited you out to dinner, but that doesn’t mean you have to fork out the big bucks. There are a whole lot of apps that can help you save on eating out. First Table, GrabOne and eVouch can all help you get those discounts.
Work out your gym situation
Health! Fitness! Working out is important, but it can also be pretty expensive. Try a gym that offers weekly memberships, or if you’re super into variety and fancy classes, try a flexible subscription like ClassPass which allows you a certain number of rollover credits at many different workout studios each month - a great option to try before you get stuck into a long-term contract.
Entertain at home
Sometimes you just want to have a great night out with your friends, but $18 cocktails add up fast. Get your mates together for some cheeky drinks and nibbles before heading out. Even better, why not plan a potluck and stay in for the night?
Meal prep your lunches
Buying lunch can really add up over time. Top tip: If you’re not a meal prepper, buy ingredients to live in your work fridge so you can make your own sandwiches or salads on your lunch break.
Eating and buying in-season produce can help save you those extra dollars. Frozen fruit and veggies are great in those winter months too!
Calculate while you shop
You’re getting the point, right? Food costs add up. When supermarket shopping, have your phone calculator out and add up the cost of your items as you go. That way you can decide to leave non-essentials behind (goodbye Whittaker’s on sale) before getting to the checkout. Even better, shop online - you can order comparable products from lowest price to highest, so you’re much more likely to pick up a bargain than you are looking at a distracting in-store shelf.
When you need to get your shopping fix, head on over to your local Reduced to Clear or Crackerjack, their excess stock and parallel imports get you some real bargains. Give online discount sites like OnceIt, 1day and Catch a try. They can be significantly cheaper than retail for the exact same item. Cha-ching.
Cut back energy and water use
Being energy and water efficient can be better for the environment, as well as your wallet. Top tip: throw on the stereo when you hop in the shower and only stay in for the duration of one song.
Take public transport
Top up your hop card and get moving! You don’t have to Uber when there are cheaper alternatives available. Remember, the minimum cost for Uber is around $6 and for the bus or train is $2.
Get financial advice
Research shows that 66% of Kiwis who have had financial advice say they are happy with their financial position, compared to 47.7% of unadvised New Zealanders. Signing up to BetterSaver is a great place to start!
Saving doesn’t have to be miserable and making a few little changes can all add up to a big difference over time.