Top 50 tips to make the most of your money

AUSTRALIANS looking to make the 2018/19 financial year more prosperous than last year should start by holding on to what they’ve got. Here’s how.

AUSTRALIANS looking to make the 2018/19 financial year more prosperous than any other year need to get cracking now.

The Your Money team examined key areas of personal finance for Australians – banking, debts, superannuation and retirement, household expenses and saving and investing – and has come up with 50 key tips to help make this financial year more prosperous.

Financial expert Noel Whittaker said much uncertainty lay ahead, but that if people took care of things they could control, including their finances, they would be better off.

“The first step is to do a simple budget to ensure you are not spending more than you are earning,” he said.

“If this is too much trouble, simply ask yourself if you are in a position to pay your credit card in full every month. If not, this is a strong signal that you are not living within your means and living on debt.

“If this is the case, you are in danger of embarking on a dangerous downward spiral.”

Mr Whittaker said higher electricity charges and a falling Australian dollar also added to household pressures, as had the rising prices of necessities such as petrol.

MyBudget director Tammy May also said a budget was the key to good financial success and said it was important to use cash and not cards to pay for goods and services.

“The only way to truly get your finances under control and achieve your goals is to create a long-range budget that incorporates all of your expenses,” she said.

“A budget will provide insight and show you where you can trim spending, free up cash to pay back your debts faster and save.

“Cash is a visual reminder of your budget in your pocket, get back to basics and withdraw your weekly living money for things like groceries, petrol and entertainment each week.”


1. Make sure you are not paying transaction account-keeping fees. There are plenty of no-fee accounts on offer.

2. If you are paying fees on a transaction account it’s easy to switch. Just visit your new bank and they will do it all for you.

3. Ensure you can get cash out for free, either using EFTPOS or an ATM within your bank’s network. Many banks allow you to withdraw from various financial institutions’ ATMs free of charge.

4. Check the interest rates you are paying on any credit cards or personal loans. Balance transfers may be a good alternative.

5. Cut up your credit card if it will stop you wasting money.

6. Check your direct debits. You may find you are paying for things without even knowing or that you have forgotten about.

7. Look at the charges associated with paying by card. Often there are surcharges and fees for paying by credit card instead of using debit credit.

8. Find out if you have any money in lost bank accounts. Do an unclaimed money search on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s website. You may have a pot of gold waiting to be collected.

9. Regularly check your bank statements. There may be unauthorised transactions on there that you didn’t know about.

10. If you have a mortgage and money sitting in online or term deposits, look at whether you are better off putting your extra cash onto your mortgage (if you have one) to reduce the interest costs given you are paying tax on your interest savings held in other accounts.


1. Tackle the debts which have the highest interest rates first.

2. Make the most of the low-interest rate environment by keeping your repayments the same when there is interest-rate falls.

3. Track your spending. Work out where your money is going and then work out how you can pay off your debts at a reasonable pace.

4. Always pay more than the minimum to ensure the debt is paid off at a much quicker rate.

5. Rolling all your debts one loan may be more feasible. Look at debt consolidation options.

6. If you’re suffering financial stress seek help. If you’ve lost your jobs or can’t meet your repayments contact your financial institution, they may be able to help.

7. Apply for a hardship variation by contacting your lender or provider – they must respond to your application within 21 days to let you know the outcome.

8. See if you can arrange realistic debt repayment plans. Do not bury your head in the sand.

9. Do not accrue any more debt. You will never get ahead if you are struggling to already pay off the debts you have.

10. Free financial services are available to assist. Contact the financial counselling hotline on 1800 007 007 if you are in financial difficulty.


1. Give your superannuation a regular health check and ensure that your employer (if you have one) is making the compulsory 9.25 per cent payments.

2. Check to see if you have lost or unclaimed superannuation by visiting the ATO’s SuperSeeker website.

3. Consolidate your superannuation accounts if you have multiple accounts. You will cut the fees and insurance costs you are paying.

4. Increase your contributions to super, even $20 extra a week can make a big difference. Use the calculator calculator website to work out how much money you will need for a comfortable retirement.

5. Review your insurance cover within your super fund. You may find you are underinsured so increasing your coverage could end up saving you a lot if you become sick or injured.

6. As you near retirement, look to reduce the risk in your super fund option. The default strategy – which may be two-thirds growth assets such as shares – may be too risky for your needs.

7. Seek advice from your super fund or adviser about pre-retirement financial strategies. There are lots of ways to maximise your savings and minimise tax.

8. Understand how much age pension you will be entitled to. Centrelink has a free, confidential financial information service.

9. Examine strategies to get paid as little as $1 of age pension, which would entitle you to government concession cards that offer low-cost medicines, bill discounts and other benefits.

10. Prevent financial and legal problems among your family members by having an updated will and powers of attorney.


1. Review all your insurance policies, including home and contents, car and health insurance. See if you can get a better deal by shopping around.

2. Set aside a bank account purely for household bills and set up a direct debit each week to cover these ongoing costs including rates, water, electricity, body corporate fees (if applicable) gas to reduce the pain come bill time.

3. Look at cutting back money spent on takeaway food, coffees and buying lunch. Huge savings will be made by cooking and preparing meals at home.

4. Shop around for cheaper utility deals. The energy industry is as competitive as ever and keen to get your business.

5. Write out shopping lists before you head to the supermarket and stick to it. Do one weekly or fortnightly shop. Mini trips end up being far more expensive.

6. Save money on your home and mobile phone bills by looking for package plans. Do you need a landline and four mobiles? Review your telco deals.

7. Cut transport costs. Can you carpool to work or is it cheaper to buy a bike and ride or catch public transport?

8. Look for ways to cut consumption around the home, i.e. turn off the lights when it’s daytime, hand wash dishes instead of using the dishwasher, use the clothesline, not the dryer.

9. Review costs on expenses such as using the gym. Can you walk around the neighbourhood or go for a jog?

10. Grab a piggy bank and put it in the living room. Encourage family members to add coins to it and use it for a treat every now and again. Or if times are a bit tight it may come in handy.


1. When investing your money, make sure you look into a range of options. Do not put all your eggs in one basket.

2. Avoid transaction accounts to hold your savings – their interest rates are around 0 per cent and you can get much better deals from at-call online savings accounts.

3. Beware of term deposits that slash your interest rate when they roll over to a new term.

4. Learn about and use the power of compound interest – which means earning interest on your interest on your interest. It’s been described as the eighth wonder of the world.

5. Start investing sooner rather than later and reinvest your returns to boost your wealth in the long term.

6. Invest for the long term. There will be high’s and low’s so you will need to ride with them to make a good return.

7. Shop around to find yourself the best returns on stashed cash. Use comparison sites to secure the best online savers/term deposits deals.

8. Set up direct debits from your regular wage to go directly into a savings account. Create different accounts for different things such as holidays, Christmas presents. Before you know it you will have a nice stash of cash.

9. If unsure where to invest, seek advice from a financial adviser or stockbroker – they are professionals and new laws mean advisers must act in your best interests.

10. Consider using the equity in your home to invest in growth assets such as property or shares and receive the tax benefits of negative gearing.

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