With 2022 well and truly dusted, many of us (including me) have decided to clean up our finances in hopes of setting and achieving new financial goals for the upcoming year. Personally, I would like to save $15,000 to fund a summer Europe trip in 2024 which means I’ve really had to plan out my budget while juggling ongoing mortgage repayment hikes.

New research commissioned by YouGov in consultation with ubank found 60% of young Aussies (aged 18-41) want to save more this year as the cost of living continues to surge.

Of the 1,000 respondents, almost nine in ten say they will be setting a new year financial resolution in 2023, with 71% of them revealing a savings target is important to ensure progress is made.

Host of the My Millennial Money Podcast Glen James said the new year is the perfect chance for people to review their financial goals and change what didn’t work last time.

“We need to be strategic and set up systems with our money that help us achieve our visions in life - it doesn't happen without some effective money management,” Mr James told Savings.com.au.

“A new year is a clean slate for many people and naturally we want to do better and this can start with our money.”

If you’re ready to get your finances organised, here are a few tips and tricks from various financial advisors to help you batten down your household budget hatches in 2023.


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15 ways to set yourself up for financial success

1. Write down your money goals for the year

No matter whether your savings goals are big or small, those who write their goals down are statistically more likely to achieve them. Do you want to go on an epic holiday adventure you’ve been putting off? Or want to start building up a deposit to purchase your first home?

Whatever you’re working towards, Mr James recommends breaking down your goals into daily, weekly, or monthly habits.

“We are more likely to achieve our goals if we build habits that contribute to those goals,” he said.

“Your big goal might be to save $10,000, and your weekly habit might be focused on transferring 10% of your take home pay into a separate account to achieve that by X date. Focus more on regular habits, than your final goal.”

According to Mr James, you should assess your goals against the following structure - SMART YO.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound
  • Yours
  • Ordered

As the saying goes, keep your eyes on the prize.

2. Create a budget

Budgeting is an important starting point for financial success.

If you wrapped up 2022 without knowing where your money went, it may be time to start tracking your spending using a budget that determines where your money goes each week/fortnight/month. Knowing what comes in and what comes out can help you pinpoint areas where you can reduce expenses.

Grant Millar, Financial Adviser and Money Coach at Inspired Financial Planners, says segregating your expenses into categories and setting up separate accounts for each spending type is a good place to start.

“For example, one transaction account for your day to day living expense needs (food, fuel, medication, etc.), one for bills, one for future expenses (holidays, renovations, furniture, etc.), and one for your lifestyle expenses,” Mr Millar told Savings.com.au.

“You’re now budgeting with purpose, you’re allocating money each pay cycle to each of these accounts in order to ensure you’re always ahead.”

There are many different budgeting tactics available, such as the good ol' Excel spreadsheet (I still use trusty old Excel) or a budgeting app. 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.

Here are two other common budgeting techniques you could try:

The buckets method

If you’ve ever read The Barefoot Investor (or any number of other finance books), you’ll have heard of this method.

In The Barefoot Investor, author Scott Pape suggests the following percentage splits:

  • 60% to your ‘Blow Bucket’ – which is for everyday expenses like your rent, home loan repayments, utilities, and food.
  • 10% to your ‘Splurge Bucket’ – which is for things that make you feel good, like socialising or buying new clothes.
  • 10% to your ‘Smile Bucket’ – which is used for savings for fun, longer-term goals like a holiday.
  • 20% to your ‘Fire Extinguisher Bucket’ – which is also for your long-term savings goals, but the less fun ones (house deposit, debt, paying off your mortgage quicker). 

The ’50/30/20′ method

This method is a simplified version of the buckets method. The split, in this case, is that you spend 50% of your income on your needs and necessities, 20% on savings or debt payments, and 30% on wants like entertainment, eating out, shopping, and travel. 

It all comes down to working out what percentage splits will work for you and your current financial situation.

See Also: What are the top 15 finance books of all time?

3. Automate your savings

Consider setting up automatic transfers from your wage to a savings account, even if it’s a small amount. By automating your savings, you never actually see the money, so you won’t be tempted to buy things you don’t need. You also won’t sabotage your own efforts by ‘forgetting’ to transfer the money. This is something I’ve been doing since my first job at 16 - and I swear by it!

Mr James encourages people to use a 10/10/80 model. Allocate 10% of your take home pay to savings or investing for your future, 10% to giving to others or organisations, and 80% for all other expenses (if you can, try to cap accommodation at 30%).

“Automating these amounts each pay cycle is a must - it takes you and your habits out of the equation so you aren't tempted to throw your money management system off balance with an impulse spend,” he said.

“The trick is to use whatever system works for you that is automated, even if you’re not yet to the point of being able to give to charity regularly.”

Automating your savings means you can put money aside effortlessly, and without thinking about it.

4. Get ready to refinance

Is your fixed-rate home loan about to expire? Are you looking to possibly snag a better deal elsewhere?

With interest rates expected to continue rising into early 2023, you may have considered shopping around for a better deal on your home loan. Many borrowers choose to refinance for a number of reasons like seeking a lower interest rate, additional features and flexibility, debt consolidation requirements, or to access home equity.

Daniel Oertli, CEO of digital lender Unloan, said refinancing could be one of the simplest and quickest ways to save tens of thousands - over the life of the loan anyway.

"There's not many things you can do in around 10 minutes that will put about tens of thousands of dollars back into your pocket. So have a serious look. Do your research," Mr Oertli told Savings.com.au.

Mr Millar also wants to remind homeowners to know their home loan rate and how much they’re paying.

“This will allow you to compare your options and avoid the ‘lazy tax’ (where you pay more for something unnecessarily),” he said.

“Remember, you spend your time earning an income, so don’t waste that time by giving the money you earn to someone else for no good reason.”

See Also: Home loan cash back offers and deals January 2023

5. Build a buffer

No one is immune to experiencing a sudden financial shock. We might lose a job, receive a utility bill that is much higher than expected, receive a fine in the mail, or face a relationship breakdown. There are endless scenarios.

Would you have a financial safety net if you were to run into any of the above? If not, it may be time to build an emergency fund.

“An emergency fund ensures that your cash isn't impacted by the unknown - a cracked tooth, a sick cat, or an unplanned drop in income,” Mr James said.

“I recommend setting aside 3-6 months worth of expenses for those surprise financial pitfalls. Try and aim for $2,000 as a starter emergency fund.”

Without a financial buffer, you may need to resort to taking out a credit card or high-interest credit options such as a payday loan, which is the last thing you want to do (it may leave you worse off financially).

The best way to weather the storm is to be prepared for the rainy days.

6. Cut back on work lunches and coffees

Here is some food for thought.

Cook your own dinner, pack your own lunch (meal prep), and limit your coffee purchasing intake. While it may not taste as nice as your Merlo or Campos beans, you could save yourself some cash by buying instant coffee and keeping it in the office kitchen for whenever you need that wake up hit.

While a $5 coffee every couple of days may not seem like much, it can build up a hefty sum over the year.

“It doesn’t have to be fancy, but if you’re spending $10 more per day on eating out, 5 days per week for 46 weeks per year (assuming you use all of your sick + annual leave), that’s $2,300 over the year,” Mr Millar said.

“How much time do you need to spend working to earn $2,300 after tax?”

7. Consolidate your nest egg

…and do so regularly. Check your super balance against your employer contributions on your pay slip to make sure everything adds up correctly.

“With superannuation it's important to check you don't have three different super funds, all investing separately with associated fees,” Mr James said.

“This will also keep your superannuation easier to track and manage for the long term.”

It can also be beneficial to check that you’re in a fund with a long-term history of good performance, and invest additional contributions if you can.

Mr Millar told Savings.com.au four key points Aussies should remember when it comes to superannuation:

  • Log into MyGov > ATO and check how many super accounts you have, and to see if any lost super has been sent to the ATO.
  • Consider consolidating your super into one fund (but be mindful of any insurances you have).
  • Make sure your super has a binding death benefit nomination, and check to ensure it’s a valid nomination.
  • If you decide to consolidate your super, don’t do anything until you’ve considered whether this will impact on the insurance you have in super.

8. Start a side hustle

If you want to earn a little extra income on the side, there are plenty of opportunities available ranging from Uber, to pet sitting, freelance jobs, or even selling your creative designs on platforms like Etsy. Even becoming an Airbnb host could earn you almost $11,500 per year!

If you’re willing to invest your time, you could save yourself some money, pay off debts, and breath a little easier - even if it’s only an extra $100 a month.

Plus, your side hustle might even turn out to be super profitable which could turn into a full-time business!

9. Compare your subscriptions and insurance policies

A new year brings new opportunities to reduce how much you’re paying on some of your bills.

“As each insurance policy comes up for renewal, review it to ensure it suits your situation and is competitive,” Mr James said.

“Also, don't be afraid to call your providers and talk through what discounts or offers they can set up for you - sometimes a simple phone call gets you a better deal.

“Be kind to the person on the phone, do your research, and if there's no better option to stay with your current provider, then look to another one.”

Don’t forget to see what subscriptions you’re looking to keep and one’s you could cut completely that you’re no longer using. Haven’t gone to the gym in over three months? (…that’s me) It might be time to cancel your membership and start working out from home.

New research released by ING found more than half of Aussies (55%) are planning a financial ‘spring clean’ this year as unused subscriptions and forgotton outgoing payments are costing each Aussie $1,261 a year on average.  

Of the 1,075 respondents, two in five (39%) say they have forgotton about scheduled payments including entertainment subscriptions, gym memberships, and fitness apps.

“These findings show that small changes like cancelling an unused subscription or monitoring for non-essential outgoings, can make big savings when Aussies need it most,” said Matt Bowen, Head of Daily Banking at ING Australia.

10. Get rid of credit card debt

If you’ve racked up some serious debt, Mr James encourages you to assess your behaviour to determine why you continue to use a credit card.

“Perhaps you're spending more than you earn, maybe you need to learn patience between big spends, or maybe you're trying to impress people with what you spend your money on.

“Get your spending under control - focus on simply spending less than you earn. Then cut up your cards and begin the debt snowball, paying off your debts from smallest to largest, moving repayments from one debt to the next.

“Keep this system running until all consumer debts are gone! As the first step, can you try and go a week or two without using the credit cards?”

Once you’ve cleared all that debt, the next step is to avoid undoing all your hard work by racking up another huge credit card balance. You want to make sure you:

  1. Only spend money you have
  2. Pay your balance in full every month
  3. Build an emergency fund
  4. Shop around for a low rate credit card
  5. Limit the number of credit cards you have

Read More: How to pay off credit card debt quickly

But it’s not only credit card debt you want to get rid of - buy now, pay later (BNPL) debts can also hinder your financial situation.

In June 2022, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) announced banks and lenders should apply BNPL and HECS/HELP education debts to their debt-to-income calculation (DTI).

“To ensure a consistent approach is taken across industry, APRA has clarified below that HECS-HELP loans and debt incurred through BNPL schemes would be included in DTI ratios,” the regulator outlined.

As of December last year, ING and Macquarie Bank updated their credit policies to include BNPL debts when assessing home loan serviceability. With other lenders expected to follow suit, it may be the right time to delete your BNPL accounts, especially if you’re looking at applying for a mortgage in the near future.

11. Check your credit score

Are you starting off the new year with a ‘weak’ credit score? If so, it might be a good time to start turning things around.

A credit score is a number between zero and 1,000 to 1,200 (depending on the reporting agency) that is used by lenders to determine your ‘creditworthiness’. Meaning, it represents how well you manage credit products. This could include how you have managed any credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, car loans, or even utility bills.

If you have a ‘good’ credit score, you’ll likely have access to things like a lower interest rate, the ability to negotiate your terms, and more. But if you have a ‘bad’ credit score, you’ll likely need to pay a higher interest rate, have little to no negotiation power, and even be limited in your borrowing power as well as which lenders you can borrow through.

“Remember, just paying your bills on time is the best way to keep your score high. Too many credit applications will push your score down,” Mr Millar said.

“You should also be able to see if there have been any incorrect reports from your billers that have reduced your score – this gives you the chance to reach out and get it rectified.”

Keeping your credit score in check should probably be on your to-do list if you have plans of borrowing in the future.

Read More: How to improve your credit score

12. Apply for government schemes to get into the market sooner

Buying your first home is never easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, with years of savings often required for a deposit. But what if we told you there was a way to get the keys to your first home sooner? Government grants, of course.

Australian First Home Owner Grants (FHOG) were first introduced in July 2000 through a national scheme separately legislated, funded, and administered by the different states and territories. The purpose? To provide a one-off payment to prospective first home buyers to help them break into the property market.

With the FHOG, you could add up to an additional $30,000 to your home loan deposit depending on the state you live in and the value of the property.

Read More: First home buyer loans and grants

There are also other government schemes to take advantage of including:

  • First Home Guarantee - first home buyers can purchase a home with a deposit as low as 5%, without the need to pay Lenders' Mortgage Insurance (LMI). This means you can borrow up to 95% of the property value.
  • Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee - from October 2022 to June 2025, 10,000 guarantees each year will help first-home buyers purchase a regional home with as little as a 5% deposit without having to pay LMI.
  • Family Home Guarantee - available until June 2025, the guarantee has 5,000 application spots up for grabs each financial year for single parents with as little as a 2% deposit without having to pay LMI.

While state and federal schemes can be beneficial, Mr Millar wants to remind potential applications to be cautious.

“There are a few things to be wary of in order to get the best outcome, and avoid traps the government has in place, so I’d suggest seeking expert financial advice before starting to use it,” he said.

13. Take advantage of high interest savings accounts

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.

Consecutive interest rate hikes in 2022 has seen savers reap the rewards with Savings.com.au market research revealing there are more than 10 banks offering savings accounts with a rate of 4% or higher. Below are some popular banks offering savings account rates over the 4% p.a. mark, with their conditions for earning the maximum rate.

Bank of Queensland

  • Available for those aged 14-35; Max balance $50,000; Deposit minimum $1,000 per month and make five completed card transactions per month.


  • Max balance $100,000; Deposit minimum $1,000 per month and make five completed card transactions per month.

Macquarie Bank

  • Four month introductory rate, reverting back to 3.45% p.a. after this period; Max balance $250,000.

When searching the market for a savings account, Mr Millar recommends looking at the interest rate and whether there are any fees payable.

“Some banks will have introductory rates that can be quite high, so milk those and move on,” he said.

“If you meet the qualification criteria, some banks have special savings accounts that give you bonus interest if you do certain actions (like no withdrawals and adding a certain amount to the account), which can give you a higher than normal rate by adding bonus interest.

“Keep in mind, though, that if you don’t satisfy all of the criteria, the base interest rate can be quite low, so only use these if you’re definitely going to tick the boxes each month.”

14. Switch to solar

With power bills expected to rise an extra 56% in the next two years, Liam Navon from Smart Energy suggests switching to solar to save on electricity bills.

“Switching to solar is one of the easiest ways to avoid costly power bills,” Mr Navon said.

“Luckily in Australia we get sunshine all year around so you can take advantage of your solar system no matter the season.” 

According to Smart Energy, Aussies spending $1,000 a month on electricity can save up to $69,051 in 15 years with solar power. 

15. Grow your own vegetables

If you’ve got the space (and time), why not grow your own vegetables?

“With a few dollars spent on seeds, plants, and supplies, you can grow fruits and vegetables that will yield pounds of produce in summer,” Mr Navon said.

“The most effective way to save money is to figure out which of the fruit and vegetables you regularly buy from the supermarket can be grown successfully in Australia.”

What a great excuse to drive down to your local Bunnings to pick up some supplies…plus a classic Bunnings snag (that’s where you’ll find me this weekend).

Savings.com.au’s two cents

Remember, starting small is okay.

Often, many of us find ourselves creating overly ambitious financial goals at the beginning of the year to only realise they weren’t that attainable to begin with. If need be, set up smaller goals and make sure you hit those targets. If you find them too easy and want to step it up a notch, then raise the bar to the next level.

You also want to remember to treat yo' self on occasion. Don’t lock yourself in your room and watch the world go by. Go out with your friends for the night, or buy yourself that dress you’ve been eyeing off for months. The key is to find the balance between saving consistently and living your life.

Mr James says there are two things to ensure you set yourself up for financial success: focusing on your values and having a strong system in place.

“Spend less than you earn, have some kind of money system that works for you, invest for your future, and focus on values-based spending,” he said.

“By this I mean deciding what's important to you in your life, and channelling your money towards those things. This means making financial trade-offs - choosing the things you will no longer be investing time or money into.”

Read More: Money Saving Tips Guide

Image by Adnan Mistry via Unsplash