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Five tips for fine-tuning your finances

Making sound financial decisions doesn’t have to involve monumental changes. Here are five suggested tweaks you can make to your financial routine that could potentially make a big difference over time.

Have a clear picture of where your money goes

When you have a good idea what you’re spending your money on you’ll be in a better position to see if you need to be making any changes.

There are a couple of easy things you can do to get a hold of where your money is going. First off, take a look at your bank statements (both your everyday account and credit card account if you have one). It’s likely that many of what appears will be essentials (think paying your power bill or car registration). But others might not all have been necessary – you might find areas where you could cut back or perhaps could have gone without.

If cash is still king, and you’re in the habit of getting it out from ATMs and paying for things as you go, keeping a spending diary for a few weeks is another way to track your outgoings. Whatever you spend money on (including your morning coffee), make sure you write it down. Just like with your bank statements, you might be surprised where your money is going.


Making a budget (and sticking to it)

True, the thought of creating and sticking to a budget can be enough to make your eyes glaze over. But it doesn’t have to be hard work. Having a budget isn’t about watching where every cent you have goes, instead it’s about having a realistic idea of what money you have coming in and what money you’re spending it on. Furthermore, setting up a budget can also be a handy tool for reviewing where you could be cutting back on spending and making savings.

Find out more about creating a budget


Check for any cash leakages

In this age of online streaming services and direct debits, it’s easy to sign up for things and put them at the back of your mind. Taking another look at your bank or credit card statements, you may find various subscriptions and services you’ve set up as direct debits that you’re no longer using - perhaps it’s an excess of streaming services or a premier pay tv subscription package when you only watch a fraction of the channels.

A quick look at any direct debits you have going out – along with asking yourself some questions about how much you’ve actually used what you’re paying for – could result in some quick and easy savings.


Think about starting an emergency fund

You never know when life is going to throw the unexpected to you – whether it’s the washing machine breaking down or finding yourself without a job. And whereas you can’t always prepare for everything, having an emergency fund could be a helpful safety net.

Preparing for the unexpected might seem like a daunting task, but setting aside a regular amount into a savings account can add up over time and could make a big difference should the unexpected come along.

Find out more about starting an emergency fund

Look for a savings account that suits you

Savings accounts aren’t a ‘one-size fits all’ product. It’s a good idea to look for a savings account that’ll pay bonus interest when you meet certain conditions such as making regular deposits. A Westpac Life account, for example pays both a competitive base rate as well as bonus interest when the account balance has grown by the end of the month.

If you’ve got a longer term goal in mind and already have some savings, you might want to consider a term deposit – not only will a term deposit give you the certainty of knowing exactly what the return on your savings will be, it can also remove the temptation of dipping into your savings as your money will be locked away for the length of the term you’ve chosen.

Find out more about Term Deposits

Things you should know

This information does not take into account your personal circumstances and is general in nature. It is intended as an overview only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.