HOME > BLOG > Budgeting and Saving > 18 ways to spring clean your finances

The beginning of spring is not only a good time to clean out your cupboards, but it’s also a great time to clean up your finances.

If you haven’t reviewed your financial situation in a while, you may find that you are spending more money than you need to. Take a look at these tips below to see how you can re-organise your finances and start afresh this spring.

  • Reduce car running costs: Did you know that the total cost of owning two cars for Aussie households is up to 13% of the household budget? Average families will spend $14,000 a year in Hobart and up to $22,000 if they live in Western Sydney on the running costs of their cars. This includes costs such as tolls, petrol, insurance, registration and maintenance. Having two cars can have an impact on your budget, so if you are struggling to keep your finances in check, think about how you can reduce your car costs.

    Do you really need a second car? If you find that you only use the second car to commute to work and then it sits in the garage on the weekend, you may want to research whether using public transport to commute is more economical.

    Some cost reducing tips could also include:

    • Research how much public transport compares to driving yourself
    • Carpool with others
    • Consider car sharing apps such as Uber

Did You Know?

An average two-car Sydney household has weekly transport costs of $419, this is followed by Brisbane with $376 and Melbourne with $348. Compared with Perth costs at $301 a week and Canberra with $300 a week. Lower-income, lower-density cities such as Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin are even cheaper at $286, $271 and $286 respectively.

  • Automatic repayments: Automatic repayments are a life saver for helping you pay bills on time. If you are guilty of missing payment deadlines more than once, then automatic repayments will be extremely beneficial. Most financial institutions will have scheduled direct debit options available on internet banking and so instead of having to worry about when bills are due, it will happen automatically.

  • Create a spending diary: Keeping track of every expense can be hard at first, but the benefits will pay off in the long run. By doing this for just a couple of weeks, you will start to see where the problems are.

  • Update your budget: If you already have a household budget in place, now is a good time to review whether it is working for you or changes need to be made. If you have kept the same budget for a while, there is a good chance that your income and expenses are different and there is potential for you to save more money just by making a few small changes. Reviewing your budget is a definite must if you have changed jobs, moved address or your family situation has changed.

  • Simplify your accounts: If you have a number of bank accounts and you do not use them all, then think about closing down the ones you don’t need. By only have accounts that you do need, it will help you keep better track of your finances.

  • Add up rewards: Do you have multiple reward cards, but have no idea how many points you’ve saved? Gather all of your cards and add up all the points you have (e.g. credit card points, frequent flyer points). Many of these rewards have an expiration date and your money could go to waste if these points aren’t redeemed in time. Also spend this time looking over all of your loyalty and rewards cards. Are there fees involved with having these cards and do they outweigh the benefits? If so, consider cancelling them.

  • Look out for mystery charges: How often do you look over your bank statement? Do you know where every single dollar is going when it comes out of your account? Just by looking over your statement, you may find that there are old subscriptions you’ve forgotten about or you are being charged for something you shouldn’t be.

  • Switch to a debit card: Do you know you use your credit card more than you should? By making the switch to a debit card, you still have all the convenience of a credit card, but you are only spending money you actually have and as a bonus, you do not have to pay interest on the money you spend.

    Want to know more about credit cards and debit cards? Check out our blog "Credit vs Debit: which card should you use?" to get started.

  • Switch energy suppliers: This is probably not something you would think about on a regular basis, but you may find that you could save hundreds every year just by reviewing your energy expenses. Websites such as GoSwitch.com.au or SwitchWise.com.au review a number of different companies in one place.

  • Reduce household costs: Electricity, water and groceries can take up a significant portion of your household income, but it doesn’t have to. Before summer kicks in, take a look at how you use your appliances, water, lighting etc and come up with a plan to reduce these expenses.

    Read more on our blog: "8 ways to reduce household costs for some more ideas".

  • Get your tax return done: The deadline for completing your tax return is not far away, so don’t leave it to the last minute. The earlier you complete your tax return, the sooner you can use the money to repay some debt or put it towards your savings.

  • Eliminate non-essential items from your spending: Smaller, non-essential expenses are often the culprit when your budget is not on track. The morning coffee or the midday sandwich add up every week and there are cheaper alternatives. It is important to sit down and really look at every expense you make every day and how you can reduce the costs. For example, if you can’t go without your coffee, make it at home and take it to work.

  • Organise your paperwork: Part of the reason why you may be less willing to review your budget regularly may be due to the mountain of paperwork sitting on your desk. Having a tidy, easy-to-use system will help you keep track of your finances better. Set aside an afternoon where you can sit down and sort out what paper you do and don’t need.

  • Review your super: Your superannuation is going to be your lifeline when you retire, but how often do you look at your account? The super calculator on the Money Smart website can give you a projection of the potential size of your super fund at retirement based on your current situation. If you find that you are not on track to reaching your goal amount for retirement, look at ways to fix this. One example is before-tax salary sacrificing.

  • Look for ‘lost’ money: Every year hundreds of thousands of dollars goes unclaimed through bank accounts, superannuation, shares and even income. There are a number of tools you can use to help you check if you have any ‘lost’ money. Click on the links below for more information.

  • Check your credit score: Your credit score is based on a range of information, such as repayment history, overdue debt as well as the number of credit enquiries you have made. Lenders use this information when determining your credit worthiness and the likelihood of you making your loan repayments in the future. It is important to regularly check your credit score to ensure there are no errors. It could affect your chances of being approved for credit down the track if you have mistakes that have not been fixed.

    Do-it-yourself: You can get a copy of your credit score here.

  • Create new financial goals for the next year: If you have just been saving and spending without a real goal in mind, now is the time to make one. If you have something to work towards (e.g. new home, car or holiday), then you may be more motivated to save more and spend less.

    Setting one big goal, such as paying off all credit cards, can seem a bit overwhelming and may make the goal harder to achieve. However, if you set a smaller goal every couple of months to pay off one credit card at a time, it may make your goals for the year less daunting.

  • Find a better deal: It doesn’t matter if it is your home loan, credit card or even your weekly grocery bill, there are ways to find a better deal. Websites such as finder.com.au or mozo.com.au compare a number of different companies for home loans, credit cards, insurance and more all in the one place.

  • Use a calculator to get an estimate of how much you can borrow.
    Try one here.

  • See if you qualify. To get a more accurate idea of how much you can borrow with State Custodians,
    click here.

  • Call our Lending Specialists and they can do the calculation for you over the phone plus answer any questions you have at the time. Talk to us on 13 72 62.