Gateway Bank CEO Lexi Airey. Photo supplied by Gateway Bank.
Amid the proliferation of flashy finance apps and digital savings tools in recent years, Gateway Bank’s new CEO Lexi Airey has called on Aussies to get back to old-school methods of saving and embrace the value of thrift.
New-age finance tools such as expense trackers, micro-investing apps and automated savings ’round-ups’ have been touted as the popular new weapons of choice for accelerating good savings habits.
But Ms Airey, who recently transitioned from chief customer officer to CEO, says restricted savings accounts, like the once-popular Christmas Club accounts, could still have something to offer those seeking to tidy up their finances.
Generally, a Christmas Club account is a lower-rate savings account that doesn’t let depositors access the money stored in there until a certain time of the year (such as Christmas).
Ms Airey says these accounts, which are often overlooked by younger savers, aren’t just for Christmas.
“Mainly the preserve of customer-owned banks, Christmas Club Accounts are probably one of the best-kept secrets for saving money,” Ms Airey told Savings.com.au.
“They are designed as purpose-built ‘jam jars’ with restricted access so you won’t be tempted to spend early and importantly, there are usually no account-keeping fees, so you can open as many as you like for different reasons like presents, food, or travel.”
According to Ms Airey, this classic ‘money jar’ approach can be a good way to build savings faster because they help to create separate savings goals, as opposed to dumping all funds into one messy pile.
“Categorising your savings individually means you can clearly see your savings progress and make your banking less overwhelming,” she said.
Discipline is the way forward to financial freedom
Using these simple products to save is all well and good, but they won’t get people far without discipline and saying no to credit, according to Ms Airey.
“As a child I had monthly pocket money from an early age, so I learnt quite quickly to not spend it all at once. Going into the red on my pocket money wasn’t an option,” she told Savings.com.au.
“If I did spend it in the first week I spent the whole month performing chores to earn more money.
“It has definitely left its mark on me, I can’t look at my Mum’s brass ornaments now without remembering that I could get 50 pence for cleaning them.”
As for buy-now pay-later services, Ms Airey says while they don’t cost the consumer if paid off on time, they do “normalise” debt
“Debt can be you agreeing to pay more for something than it is worth, which on a large purchase like a house is usually necessary and that value can grow, but on smaller luxury purchases, say the shoes you buy and never wear, it makes a lot less sense,” she said.
“With a savings account or the tried and true layby option, you have to think whether you really want what you are buying – how often do we impulse buy clothes in a sale and never wear them?”
Other ways to cut down costs
Ms Airey is a big fan of cutting down on unnecessary costs, but she also believes there’s a middle ground between being thrifty and treating yourself.
“Think about what you are forgoing when you spend smaller amounts, they all add up,” she said.
“22% of a weekly shop is wasted at a household level because food ends up in the bin. That all adds up to a few holidays a year.
“Reward yourself for not spending. For example, if I forgo buying coffee and lunch all week, and make my own instead, I can afford a half hour massage at the end of the week as a treat.”
According to Westpac and ASIC MoneySmart research, Australian’s top three savings goals are holidays (53%), rainy day funds (46%) and buying or renovating a home (40%).
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Photo: supplied by Gateway Bank