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How to save money fast: 25 tips to grow your bank balance quickly

Cameron Carpenter

Save money, and it will save you!

Here's a crash course on some of the fastest ways to save money (especially tailored for Australians).

Remember, the best time to start saving is right now, and with the power of compounding interest, your savings will grow bigger and bigger. For example, if you invest $1,000, and it earns 10% a year in interest. After one year, you'd have $1,100 — that's the original $1000 you saved plus the $100 interest it earned. The second year, you'll have slightly more —$1,210 — because you're making interest on top of interest.

So with that in mind, here are more than 25 tips to help you reach your savings goals faster. And don't forget to tell us your money-saving tips in the comments.

1. Switch providers for all your essential services

You could save more than $4,000 in an afternoon by changing service providers or asking your current one for a better deal. This strategy targets all your bills, including electricity, gas, mobile, broadband, credit cards, and insurance. See our complete guide to slashing your bills for more details.

2. Don't go further into debt

The most significant barrier to saving for most people is debt. Debts only get bigger and harder to deal with over time. For example, the average credit card balance in Australia is about $3,500 and the average interest rate is 20%. This adds up to about $700 a year in interest costs every year.

  • If you're not paying off your credit card in full each month, cut it up with scissors right away! Do not wait. High-interest rates are draining your money!
  • Prioritize paying off debts with high-interest rates first, such as credit cards or payday loans.
  • Stop using puy now, pay later services or payday loans. These make it very hard to break the debt cycle.
  • Consider switching to a balance transfer credit card. Most of them allow you to pay no interest on the balance you move from your existing credit card, sometimes for up to 26 months. (Be sure to cancel your old credit card first, and payoff the balance before the interest free period ends.)
  • Speak to a free financial advisor who could find a way for you to consolidate your debts into one single loan with a lower interest rate. The Salvation Army offers free financial counseling.

3. Switch your super fund to one with low fees and high returns

While you won't notice the benefits of switching your super fund right now, you'll be sure to thank yourself for changing when you're ready to retire and see how your savings have compounded. An underperforming super fund can cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time we retire. APRA (the super industry's chief government regulator) has a heat map tool where you can compare super funds and see how your super fund is performing based on investment return and fees.

4. Take a packed lunch to work

Buying coffee and lunch at work every day will set you back about $15 a day. That amounts to $3,500 per year. Just make your food at home and watch your savings add up.

5. Use the thirty-day spending rule

Almost every day, we're tempted to buy something new, but the thirty-day spending rule aims to put a stop to all those temptations. Here's how it works: wait 30 days every time you want to make a purchase. If you still think buying that item is worthwhile after a month, go buy it. But most of the time, your desire to buy the item will have faded by then. If not, be sure to compare prices online and ask for a discount to get a better deal.

6. Use the library to get free ebooks and audiobooks

Most libraries in Australia now allow you to download free audiobooks and ebooks straight onto your device. Make sure you check your local library's website for all the details.

7. Share streaming services with mates

Netflix, Stan, Disney+; All those streaming services sure add up! Save money by logging in with a username and password shared with me by friends or family. Pay for one service each - or divide the costs at the end of the month. Different streaming services have different policies regarding password-sharing, but those policies can be vague and difficult to enforce.

8. Look for a used option first

Instead of buying everything brand new, look for a used option first! I recently purchased a refurbished iPhone for a quarter of the price of what it would have cost new and couldn't fault it. This trick works for many other things, including kitchen appliances, musical instruments, clothing, kids' toys, and even kitchenware. Facebook marketplace, eBay, and local garage sales are a goldmine for some great used bargains!

9. Drink less booze and quit smoking

Vices like drinking and smoking are not only expensive habits, but they'll also hurt your health. Cut back, and not only will you be rewarded with more cash in your bank account, but you'll also feel better for it in the long run.

10. Try a savings challenge

This plan eases you into saving. The concept is simple. During the first week of the year, you save $1. During the second week, you save $2. Keep adding a dollar each week so that during the last week of the year, you'll have $1,378.

11. Start a side hustle

Starting a side hustle is one of the best ways to save money doing work you love. Research shows the average Australian earns more than $600 per month from a side job. Be sure to check out our list of over 30 side hustle ideas to get started. Some of the best side hustles include working an evening shift at a restaurant after your office job, dog walking, securing a few gigs on Airtasker, or perhaps even selling plants.

12. Save big at the supermarket

  • Write a shopping list: Writing a shopping list will help you keep to your budget and stop you from making any impulse buys. Throughout the week, whenever you notice something you need, write it down. Then before you go to the supermarket, do a final look through the pantry for any last-minute items you might need.
  • Shop at Aldi: ALDI is at the top of the rankings with the lowest average prices on grocery items. According to Choice, Aldi shoppers save more than 49-50%, assuming you're prepared to swear off the leading brands.
  • Buy supermarket house brands: CHOICE discovered that a basket of supermarket home brands was up to 40% cheaper than the equivalent branded products.
  • Shop for markdowns: Markdowns are a great way to get expensive groceries products such as meat and veggies on the cheap. The best time to snag products on markdown depends on your supermarket, but I've found my supermarket markdown food items early in the morning. Other shoppers say that closing time and late afternoon are other good times to find the best bargains.

13. Sell stuff you no longer use

Spend an afternoon clearing up your house and gathering up all the stuff you no longer use anymore. Then put the items up for sale on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or even hold a garage sale. It will take a bit of work, but the extra cash will make it worthwhile. Items you could sell include furniture, books or DVDs, electronics, and kitchen appliances.

14. Lower your mortgage rate by refinancing or asking your provider for a better rate

Mortgage interest rates are at record lows, but many Australians are still paying above-market interest rates. Search for the cheapest rates on canstar.com.au and negotiate with your lender for a better deal. If they don't, they don't deserve your business, and it's time to switch providers. Research reveals the average refinance saving available on a $400,000 owner-occupier loan is now $2,631 a year.

15. Invite friends over

Inviting friends over is a great way to save money. Ditch the expensive lunches or dinners and host at home. If that's not an option, meet at the beach or go to a park instead.

16. Ride a bike to work

The costs of traveling to work add up over a week. If you're driving, the cost of parking can set you back by up to $20 a day. Public transport's not cheap either, amounting to about $6 a day in the big cities. A bike will set you back a few hundred dollars initially, but within a few months, it will have paid for itself, plus it will improve your fitness too! It's a win-win!

17. Start a meal prep Sunday routine

By spending a few hours meal prepping on a Sunday afternoon, you'll not only save money, but it will free up time during the week when you're super busy. Decide on your meals for the week before you hit the grocery store, and make sure you've stocked up on recyclable plastic containers!

18. Get the best price before making a purchase

Before making a big purchase, do some research online to find the best price. Many businesses such as OfficeWorks offer a price beat guarantee, where they'll beat the best available price by 5%.

19. Rent out a spare room

Renting a home is often our biggest monthly expense. Cut this down by renting out a spare room in your home to help cut \down your rent. For example, if you're single and rent out a two-bedroom apartment, you could reduce your rent by more than 50% by taking in a housemate, enabling you to save thousands more every year.

20. Grow your own food

Save the planet and make extra cash! If you're lucky enough to have a garden with some soil, start planting. Apartment dwellers can use a planter set, which is great for growing vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes,  beans, and root vegetables.

21. Use Aliexpress to buy stuff

Let's face it, most of the stuff we buy is made in China now.  And the website AliExpress offers you the opportunity to cut out the middleman and purchase products directly from the manufacturer in China. You can get pretty much anything on Aliexpress – there's clothing, electronics, kitchen utensils, and camping equipment. The only downside is that it may take a while for these items to ship from China.

22. Get the most out of your tax refund

It's a monotonous annual chore, but by completing your tax refund, you can give your savings a substantial boost every year. The general rule is that if you incur an expense as part of your job and aren't reimbursed by your employer, you can make a claim to get the tax on the item or service. And did you know, since March last year, the federal government has allowed people working from home to claim a flat 80 cents-an-hour rate.

If the idea of dealing with your own taxes makes you squirm, consult with an accountant.  It will cost you a few hundred dollars but is likely to pay for itself when you get your return back.

23. Stop trying to keep up with others

Appreciate and enjoy what you have, rather than getting into debt to catch up with others. Most times when we compare ourselves with others, we feel nothing but negative feelings. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence! Instagram shows us a 'highlight reel' of people's lives, but that dreamy picture-perfect life often comes with a lot of debt!

24. Make an additional contribution to your superannuation and get free government money

If you pay a little extra into your super before the end of the financial year, you could receive an additional boost from the government. You could receive 50c extra for every additional dollar you pay into your super account, up to a maximum of $500. You need to be earning less than $54,837 per year to be eligible. This is only for personal, after-tax contributions and does not apply to contributions you're making with your employer.

25. Invest your savings

Now that you've saved all that extra cash, it's time to invest. I recommend getting started with an exchange-traded fund (ETF), which allows you to invest in many companies with one trade and is much safer than investing in individual stocks.