Whether you're looking to save money for a home loan deposit, or just want to make sure you've got all your bases covered - we've put together a comprehensive list of all the things (especially the boring, recurring but expensive things) you should review when it comes to your finances. Because quitting coffee and avocado toast just isn’t gonna cut it.
Source: Jonny Kennaugh, Unsplash
So, where to start? Some people thrive on goal setting because they like to know what they’re aiming for before forging ahead. If this is you, go ahead and put some parameters around a SMART goal (a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely), for example: I want to save up for a house deposit (20%) for a property valued at $500,000 within 3 years.
If you’re not one for goal setting and just want to get your finances in order that’s perfectly fine too.
Let’s move on, shall we?
Yawn. Insurance is the thing you pay for and hope you never have to use, and because there are so many tiers and add-ons it’s easy to put off reviewing whether your policy is still fit for purpose. Beat the temptation to let another year go by and set aside some time to review your policies (before the annual rollover notice, you know the one) and review what’s on offer. There may be multi-policy and loyalty discounts that you’re missing out on.
Whilst reviewing, you may discover that you’re under or over insured across all the different categories – just make sure you don’t get caught out.
Here are some insurances you may have and want to review.
Single, couples, family, growing family, over 50s – does your insurance match up with your current life stage? Are you paying for extras that aren’t being used or are no longer required? Private health insurance can impact you at tax time too, depending on the level of insurance you take out, the number of consecutive years you take out private health cover and how much you earn. This article outlines the differences between rebates and surcharges – read up so you know what applies to you and what you should consider when it comes to private health cover.
Apply the same thinking to life insurance, income protection, permanent disability and pet insurance – whatever is relevant to you.
Does your insurance company price your premiums based on how much you use your vehicles, how far your daily commute is, and where you store your vehicles? If they do, chances are it would pay to provide actuals or more accurate estimates – especially if it means saving on premiums because your commute isn’t as long anymore, or you’ve made some security upgrades to how you store your vehicle.
Bought yourself a fancy bicycle? Confirm whether your bike is covered under your policy or if you need to seek out an insurance company that specialises in the make and model. Tip: have a family member or friend take a photo of you standing next to your bike (and any accessories, including your helmet, locks and lights - Lycra optional) and save this along with proof of purchase in case you ever need to make a claim.
Vehicles to insure: car/s, motorbike, scooter, trailer, boat, or caravan.
Homeowners, at a minimum you need to have building insurance, and this is probably required by your lender (most lenders require a copy of the certificate of currency on file). If you’ve made significant improvements, undergone a renovation or added an extension, you probably want to update your policy. Same with contents – do a stocktake of all your assets (take photos while you’re at it and store them along with scanned/digital copies of sales receipts) and ensure you’re adequately insured. Don’t assume that all your contents are covered under your policy – if you have sentimental or high value items (i.e. jewellery) you may want to check if you need specified (or portable) contents insurance.
Accidental damage insurance is optional (and if you’re lucky, included as part of your home and contents policy) – and like most insurance policies, something you pay for but hope you never use. It’s good to know what’s covered and what the claim caps are though, just in case.
Hello property barons. Replaced appliances or made improvements in and around your rental properties lately? Or been with the same insurer for a while? Check out their Product Disclosure Statement to make sure you’re adequately covered.
Tools to compare
There are plenty of comparison sites popping up in the market that could help you whittle down the choices, however most companies pay to be listed on these sites so remember to check what filters have been applied so you can see all the offers in market. Call around for quotes and compare your options.
Bundling and loyalty discounts: check to see if you could benefit from multi-policy or loyalty discounts. Or multi-policy AND loyalty discounts. So many discounts.
You’re not paying monthly fees to access your everyday account, are you? There are plenty of options that waive monthly fees if you deposit a minimum amount (usually less than your monthly pay, win!). Maybe it’s time to consolidate accounts or open that linked savings account so you can auto transfer a portion of your pay to hit that SMART goal (hint, hint).
You’re paying HOW MUCH interest on your credit card? Credit card interest rates are notoriously high, and annual fees are super lame. Hit those comparison sites again and find a better deal (with a 0% balance transfer, obviously).
If you’re about to apply for a home loan or similar, it might be time to pay down your cards, lower your credit limit or close the account altogether. Your credit limit could affect your borrowing capacity and your ability to repay the loan.
When was the last time you reviewed the interest rate on your home loan? It is a huge pain having to make an appointment with your bank, or that slimy broker you met once and keeps sending you poorly formatted, nonsensical emails. Refinancing your home loan is one of the easiest ways to shave hundreds of dollars off your home loan repayments and thankfully Tic:Toc (ahem, that’s us) are 100% online so you can apply and be fully approved from the comfort of your couch, pants optional. Just watch out for break fees and application fees (we don’t charge fees – win, win). And have you seen our rates? Breathtaking.
Check out our step-by-step guide on how to refinance your home loan here.
Feel like you’re getting ripped off? Time to break up with your utilities company. There are consumer advocacy groups out there helping everyday Aussies fight the good fight to get the best deal on their utility bills. Alternatively, you could give your provider a call to see if they’ve got any deals on – just make sure you know what you’re getting into as some providers require you to be contracted for a period.
Combine, combine, it’s time to streamline. Why do you have a mobile phone bill with that company, and a mobile with the other one, and then a landline connected with what’s your face? Do you even need landline? Oh, it’s for your internet? I sound like a broken record, but technology changes (mind blowing) and there are internet options out there that may mean you can stop paying for landline. Providers are bundling and packaging up some very nice phone, internet and entertainment deals. Time to research, my friend.
Mobile phone still in mint condition? Phone companies are also offering excellent BYO phone deals with HUUUUUUUGE data deals that will make your 2015 self weak at the knees. Stream all the things.
Still paying for that online course you haven’t logged onto for months or that meditation app on your iPhone that you silenced months ago because of the annoying, guilt-tripping notifications? CUT 'EM. Same goes with unread magazines and newspaper subscriptions destined for your recycling bin.
While you’re at it, what about your Spotify, Apple Music, Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime, Foxtel, and Kayo accounts? Time to cull, or maybe it’s time to sign up for the family account (cos friends are also family).
And how about all those games/apps you’ve been downloading on your iPhone, Xbox and Nintendo Switch? Delete your credit card details so you have to go through the pain of entering your details every time you go to buy that game you’ll only play for a week. Candy crushed.
Go on, you know you have that superannuation account floating around somewhere from that time you worked a casual job when you were 16. Track it down and consolidate. It’s really easy, I promise. Get your head around all the fees and charges too – every little bit counts. Don’t be the guy in the commercial that’s going down the escalator.
Other tips and tricks (mainly lifestyle changes that will probably involve you being accidentally sustainable and/or more environmentally aware)
- Out of sight, out of mind. If you can’t resist a sale maybe it’s time to unsubscribe and unfollow social media accounts that are always having an irresistible sale. Even if it’s just temporary.
- Avoid fees by paying bills on time (or pay early if your provider offers early bird discounts).
- Go paperless by opting out of fee-based paper statements.
- Apply the 30 day rule: don’t know if you love it, want it, really (don’t) need it? Let your lust simmer for 30 days –if you still want it after this period, treat yo’self.
- What do you mean ‘love it’? Does it genuinely make you happy? Or is it going to keep you that little bit further from that dream vacay or home deposit aka true joy? (Pssst, Marie Kondo would be proud).
- Buying something you'll never consume or wear just because it’s on sale means you aren't benefiting from the 'savings' – it’s also taking up valuable space, which brings us to…
- Rethink how you value your space by applying a monetary value on it, i.e. $10,000 on every sqm of your house – is that life size flamingo worth $10,000 of space? Probably not.
- Take care of your wardrobe:
- Learn to repair your clothes.
- Change the way you wash and dry them (and how often) – think cold wash and air dry.
- Buy clothes out of season (i.e. when they’re on sale).
- Buy second-hand or consider luxury consignment.
- Organise a clothes swap – especially for kids clothes.
- Eating out, eating in:
- Learn how to cook.
- Introduce meatless Monday (or any day).
- Find out what meals are great for bulk cooking and freezing – cook them, freeze them.
- Do weekly lunch/dinner swaps with family or friends.
- Only use meal delivery services for special occasions (like Fridays. Just kidding.)
- Grocery shop like a pro
- Don’t do the groceries on an empty stomach (you tend to buy more junk food and more food in general – you aren’t you when you’re hungry).
- Make use of ‘click and collect’ grocery services if you know you’re going to be tempted.
- Rethink your daily commute
- Swap out a day or two with carpooling, public transport, biking, running or walking.
- Driving part of the way and completing the rest of the way with one of the above.
- Eliminating or reducing your consumption of single-use items
- Often the cost of providing single-use items are passed onto the consumer - many outlets provide discounts for customers who bring (and use) reusable cups
- BYO shopping bags – because it’s annoying having to purchase one at the checkout. Every. Single. Time.
- Switching to chemically-reduced for DIY cleaning alternatives (pretty sure nanna didn’t rely on single-use, antibacterial wipes – she made her own because she’s tough as nails).
- Switch up your exercise routine
- Ditch the gym membership you signed up for on January 1 and haven’t entered since January 2.
- Classpass may be available in your area and offer you a wide variety of classes that allow you to try new techniques and stay motivated.
- Check out YouTube for fitspo.
- There is a thing called the outdoors (it’s free).
- Sometimes willpower just isn’t enough
- Automatically transfer a set amount from your pay to a designated savings account, your home loan (with unlimited repayments and a free redraw facility) or towards paying off debts like your credit card.