10 money habits to bring into the new year

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on January 05, 2022 Fact Checked
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10 money habits to bring into the new year

As we leave the dumpster fire that was 2021 in the past, let’s start off the new year right with some healthy money habits to adopt.

As the saying goes, new year, new m(on)e(y management skills)… or something like that. Many people are looking to improve the way they manage their money as we enter another year. Unsurprisingly, research found people wish they saved more money than they currently do. Saving money is like going on a diet: easy to say you’ll do, but hard to actually do.

Let’s start off the new year right. Here are our top 10 ways to help improve your relationship with money in 2022.

  1. Have a savings goal

  2. Create a budget and stick to it

  3. Open a high interest savings account

  4. Download helpful apps

  5. Cook at home (and actually eat it)

  6. Tackle your debts

  7. Careful with credit cards

  8. Same goes for Afterpay

  9. Don’t forget about your Christmas gift cards

  10. Be realistic

1. Have a savings goal

First and foremost, you should start by thinking of a savings goal you want to hit this year. Do you want to go on a European holiday? Or finally have that dream wedding you keep putting off? Set yourself a realistic savings goal that you can work towards throughout the year. Backed by the rest of the tips we’ll discuss, having an overarching goal to work towards will (hopefully) make the hard work pay off.

It’s like going to the gym to lose weight, which might be another goal you’ve set yourself for this year. Well, at least I have. It won’t come without time, dedication, and the right goal in place. How much do you want to lose (or, in this case, gain)? Remember what you’re doing it for - this should help you stick to it.

2. Create a budget and stick to it

Speaking of sticking to it, once you have your initial goal it’s time for a fun task: drawing up a budget (said no one ever). Budgeting can seem like a bore but once you’ve put in the hard yards to fully understand your financial situation, the satisfaction should be worth it.

Creating a budget is a simple yet effective way of understanding your money, where it comes from, where it goes, and how you can save more of it. You can do this in many ways - whether that’s with a good ol' Excel spreadsheet or a budgeting app (we’ll get onto that later), pick a way that suits your fancy and get cracking.

Once you’ve figured out how much you earn and how much you spend, combined with your savings goal, you should be able to make some adjustments to start saving some more of your cents. Maybe that means cutting the Netflix, Stan, Binge, and Paramount Plus subscriptions (or keeping just one). Whatever the sacrifices, remember your savings goal and that it will all be worth it in the end.

3. Open a high interest savings account

This is something we mention in pretty much every ‘how to save money’ article we write. That’s because it’s another simple yet effective way to save money without needing to lift a finger. Well, other than to set up the account and deposit your funds into it.

I myself opened a high interest savings account only last year, and the interest I’ve been earning is definitely worth the effort it took to set up the account. You can devote it solely as your savings account like myself or just use it as your everyday bank account. Either way, it’s definitely a handy way of earning some extra change to go towards your savings goal.

At the time of writing this, the best savings account interest rates are offered by Westpac and BOQ (2.5%), but this is for people under the ages 30 and 24 respectively. For those over 30 looking for a place to stash their cash and earn interest, there are still a few options to choose from, even in the current low interest environment.

Need somewhere to store cash and earn interest? The table below features savings accounts with some of the highest interest rates on the market.

4. Download some helpful apps

Apps are your friend. Nowadays, there’s an app for just about everything. Whether you want to see what you would look like as a blonde or keep track of your cash - there’s an app for it. Specifically, there are a number of budgeting and saving apps that can give you a helping hand in reaching your money milestones. From micro-investing to bill tracking to automatic round-ups; there are a number of helpful tools that can be in your pocket at all times. Download one or two or even ten - it’s totally up to you.

5. Cook at home (and actually eat it)

The holiday period is an easy time to slack off in the kitchen, which not only results in extra belly fat but extra money being spent. While Uber Eats may be convenient, it’s also an easy way to rack up an expensive food tab. From service fees to delivery fees, not to mention the fact that they often charge extra for the menu items, it’s not a sustainable lifestyle if you’re looking to save money.

Start cooking at home, meal prepping if you will, and eating the leftovers later. The freezer is your friend - making foods like pasta or fried rice can go a long way if you decide to freeze some extra portions. Not only will you save money, you’ll feel better too.

6. Tackle your debts head on

2022 can be the year you finally pay off that credit card you used recklessly as a teen. Getting your debts out of the way quickly, while challenging, can actually end up saving you money. This is because you will likely be paying interest charges which add up greatly over time. Generally speaking, the longer you take to pay it off, the more interest you end up paying. But as your debt balance goes down, so do your interest charges.

Get some of your annoying debts out of the way to be a little more relaxed when payday comes around. Less debt equals less expenses you need to worry about as you’re saving for your goal. Work it into your budget if you can - make extra repayments on your personal loan (if you won’t be charged any penalties for doing so) or pay off a large chunk of your credit card debt in one fell swoop.

7. Careful with your credit cards

You don’t want to pay off your credit card debt only to get celebrate by getting into credit card debt. This year, try use debit over credit if you can’t be trusted. Or if you are going to use your credit card, always pay off the entire balance at the end of the month. This will generally result in no interest charges which is a big win for your wallet.

You can look into credit cards with no monthly fees, annual fees, or account keeping fees. While they may not come with the same perks as your current credit card, they can end up saving you money in terms of fees.

8. Same goes for Afterpay - be careful!

The jury on whether or not buy now, pay later (BNPL) is a credit product is pretty much in: BNPL is basically a credit product and it should be treated as such. The low fees of platforms like Afterpay can be alluring, plus you’re not actually borrowing money, so how can it hurt? Many BNPL platforms earn their cheddar through their late fees, which are easy to incur. While there’s no interest charged and late fees are capped for most platforms, it’s still wasted money that you can avoid needing to spend.

Now, this is not a BNPL hate club. Using Afterpay, Zip, or any other BNPL is just like using a credit card; if you do it responsibly, you shouldn’t have any problems. With that being said, it doesn’t hurt to minimise your usage of these platforms. If you want to buy something, but you can’t quite afford it on your own, should you really be buying it? It might be better to skip over it for now, or save up until it’s more affordable.

9. Don’t forget about your Christmas gift cards

Ah, gift cards. Fun fact: my dad only got me gift cards for both my birthday and Christmas, and I’m not even mad about it. Gift cards are great because you can actually buy what you want and not have to do that whole awkward ‘I love it… did you keep the receipt?’ exchange with your gift giver.

While gift cards are a great gift (in my opinion), they are also easy to forget about. It’s even easier to use it once and then forget the balance, only for the card to disappear into your handbag never to return. If you got any gift cards for Christmas, don’t forget to use them. Write the balance left on them on the card or in your notes so you won’t forget. Not using a gift card is essentially like flushing money down the toilet.

10. Be realistic

Last but not least, be realistic about your goals. Maybe saving for a million dollar mansion isn’t on the cards this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start trying. Don’t torture yourself by pocketing every paycheck and never leaving the house. Doing so will probably be unsustainable anyway, or if you do it, you’ll be a pretty boring person.

Treat yo' self sometimes. Buy that pair of shoes you’ve always wanted or go to that all you can eat restaurant with your mates. Don’t be so strict on yourself that you feel anxious about money - trust me, it’s a slippery slope. Find the balance between consistently saving for your goal and living your best life.


Image by Tim Mosshold on Unsplash

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Rachel is a Finance Journalist, and joined Savings in 2021. Coming from a background in the FinTech space, her interests include the innovation of lending technology, property, investing, and more. With a passion for educating and informing people about their finances, she hopes to increase the financial literacy of everyday Australians.

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