November 24, 2017

How to Save Money on the Gym by Using Youtube to Exercise

YouTube is a great place to find challenging exercise classes. Just mind you don’t get distracted by all the cat videos.

Staying fit is important for staying healthy and feeling good. While there are many reasons why people don’t exercise, the cost of doing so is a legitimate one. Personal trainers, gym memberships, and exercise classes in Australia are expensive and can add quite a bit to your ‘fixed costs’.

Fortunately, you don’t need any of these things to exercise. You can always go for a run, do you own circuit class, or play some sport for staying healthy and saving money. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get motivated without a formal class or know what to do if you’re a beginner.

That is where YouTube comes in.

YouTube workouts

Did you know that YouTube is the second most common place people go to search for something on the internet? This makes perfect sense when you think about it. Why spend 20 minutes reading a detail description of how to bake a cake when a video can show you how to do it, in a fraction of the time?

There are an infinite number of workout videos on YouTube. Whether you want to do yoga, a boot camp style session, or a classic Jane Fonder aerobic class, you can find it on YouTube.

Benefits of YouTube workouts

Watching a video can also help you stay focused and motivated. It is all too easy to just give up or cut things short when you are making things up for yourself. But, if you have someone telling you what to do, you are much more likely to do it.

It also saves you time. No driving to the gym, getting unpacked or wasting time talking to the receptionist.

Challenges

Of course, one of the biggest benefits of a gym is that it has all the nice equipment. While the machines are prohibitively expensive to buy, you should be able to find a basic set of weights and a mat relatively inexpensively.

Most videos understand that people are doing them at home and don’t require you to have any special equipment. If you do need something, you could try DIYing. It’s simple to make a kettle bell or install a chin up bar.

The other benefit of a gym is that group exercise is way more fun and effective. But, just because you’re exercising to a video doesn’t means you must do it alone. If you want to take your YouTube workouts to the next level; watch them in a group!

If you have little experience, it’s worth checking out some ‘how to’ video for different exercises, and then trying them in front of a mirror (not so you can check yourself out, but so you can see if you’re doing the movement correctly!).

If you’re comfortable with most movements, then go right ahead and start using YouTube as your trainer/class instructor. You’ll save some serious money and get the same result as going to a gym in Australia.

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5 Ways to Save Money on Books and eBooks

Reading is a great activity for people of all ages in Australia. Some prefer hardcover and paperback books, while others go for the digital route through eBooks. Whether for school, work or as a hobby, reading plays a big role in how we learn new things and develop our communication skills. While it comes with many benefits, it can also be very expensive. This shouldn’t be a concern as there are simple ways to save money and enjoy this activity.

Here are five money-saving tips on books and eBooks:

Visit your local library

This ones seems obvious right? Looking for a place filled with books and where you don’t need to spend money to read? Go to the local library. It should be the most obvious answer but in this world where everything seems to go digital, the good old library may be taken for granted. It’s the easiest way to save money on books – just be mindful of any fines for books that are not returned on time.

Buy secondhand books

If you’re serious about cutting costs, consider buying pre-loved books. There are so many bookstores and online shops that offer a wide selection of books and other reading materials. Obviously, secondhand books come at discounted prices, letting you save money.  eBay.com is a great source for secondhand books in Australia!

Sell your old books to fund your new ones

Speaking of eBay, once you are finished reading a book, instead of cluttering up your house with books you are never going to touch again, consider selling your old books online. Likewise second hand book stores usually have a booking buying and trading scheme. Go in and ask them what you offer.

Don’t buy books at regular prices

As with most purchases, wait until the books you’ve been eyeing for become on sale, especially if you don’t need them right away. Watch out for the sale season of bookstores in your area. Also, a quick search online and you’ll find several websites that offer discount codes and digital coupons that can help a lot in saving money.

Watch out for eBook bargains and free eBook offers.

eBooks are generally less expensive compared to their hard copy counterparts. To further save money, keep tab of websites that offer eBooks at lower prices. Some websites even release eBook best-sellers that you can get for free.

Borrow eBooks online.

If you are a regular eBook reader, then consider getting a Kindle Unlimited account via Amazon Australia. For a fee of $13.99 per month, you can download up to 10 books at a time. When you read your 10 book limit, it simply asks you to pick a book in your library to return. This is also great for a family who can share one login and use that low monthly fee for the entire family.

Final Thought

Books and eBooks can be costly, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning new things through reading. Keep these simple tips in mind so you can read more and save money.

Got other tips on saving money when it comes to books and eBooks in Australia? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

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Entering the Sharemarket for the First Time

There is a huge misconception that investment is only for the wealthy. Mutual funds, brokerage firms, and individual companies provide investment opportunities for the investor with a limited amount of funds available. If you can save $10 per week, you can think about how to start an investment portfolio. Here are some tips if you are considering to invest in the stock market with little money.

Think before you invest

If you want to know how to invest in stocks, spend time researching a company before making the decision to invest. By understanding the general operation and running of an organisation, you will increase your chances of selecting stocks that are profitable. You should also educate yourself on investment strategies such as diversification and dollar-cost averaging.

Specific Stock Research

There are documents regarding a company’s information that are available to the public. These include the company’s current quarterly report, and their annual report. Firms that are publicly traded often post this information on their websites under, “Investor Relations.”

You can also check websites such as MSN Money, and Yahoo Finance for in-depth past and present financial information.

You should pay attention to the company’s ability to generate profit and the effectiveness of its management team.

Compare the company and its competitors in terms of market share, profitability and growth.

Mutual Funds

Mutual funds raise their capital by selling shares to investors. The capital that is generated is used to purchase a basket of stocks selected by a fund manager. Some mutual funds require a minimum investment of $1,000, but there are some that will allow you to open an account with a few hundred dollars. Some funds will permit you to implement the dollar-cost average strategy by paying monthly installments debited from your bank account.

Get a Stockbroker

Regardless of what you think, there are some stockbrokers out there that will deal with smaller investors and help you select shares based on your specific requirements. Getting professional advice is always important when you are thinking of investing in an area that you are not well versed in. Arming yourself with the most information possible is always important.

Final Thought

If you have just started investing, and you have a limited amount of capital, the above suggestions are great ways to reap the benefits of having a professionally managed investment portfolio.

Got any tips for those starting out in investing in Australian shares? Comment below.

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How to Use Your Smartphone to Ask for a Discount in Store

A smartphone is your best friend when it comes to getting a discount in store.

When it’s time to update your TV or get a bigger refrigerator you can save hundreds of dollars by asking for a discount. But, no self-respecting salesperson is going to give you one, unless they feel like they absolutely must do so to close the deal.

Using your smartphone to research prices and find cheaper deals is the easiest way to get a discount and save money. Here’s how to use your smartphone to get a discount in store.

Get a price guide

Do a quick internet search for the product you are looking to buy. This will give you a rough price guide and where else it retails.

Find previous sale prices

Everything goes on sale; it’s just a matter of when. You can use camelcamelcamel.com to search price charts and find the lowest price a product has ever sold for. If you can’t find your product, use a calculator to work out what a 30% discount would be and use that as a guide.

Check competitor prices

Pretty much every store will price match with a competitor. Check the price at one or two of the store’s main competitors, preferably ones that are close by. For small electronics, you should definitely look up the price on Ebay or Amazon.

Remember, you must compare the same product. Search for the model number instead of generic names as you might end up finding a different version. Also be careful with overseas results; the prices and models can be different from the ones in Australia.

Saving time

Now that you have done your research, you’re ready to ask for a discount.

All you have to say is:

“Hey. I want to buy this … (TV, etc.), but it’s only $…  at ABC Pty. Ltd. (competitor) down the road. If you can beat their price and I’ll buy it right now.”

You should be ready to buy it on the spot. The quicker the deal is done, the less time the salesperson spends with you. This gives them more time to sell to someone else. Make it obvious that you know what you want and a quick close will have you handing over your money.

You might be able to bluff a competitor price, but having an advertised price will give you a solid bargaining tool. Salespeople know their margins, and what competitors can afford to sell something for, so don’t be unrealistic with your offer.

Try these tips next time you are buying something in store. Instead of just watching cat videos, use your smartphone to help you ask for a discount and save more.

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How to Feed a Large Family on a Small Budget

Families in Australia spend a huge chunk of their weekly budget on food. It varies depending on the location, size of the family, and of course, income. Feeding a family on a tight budget can be difficult, but it can be done with a few tricks. Here are several smart tips to feed a large family on a small household budget:

Plan your meals for the entire week

Meal planning may take a bit of time and effort, but it can help you save a lot of money and reduce food wastage. To get the most out of your budget, know what’s on sale or in season and work around it. Also, once you know what you’re going to cook for the entire week, you can make a grocery list and avoid impulse buying and frequent trips to the store.

Cook from scratch

It’s very tempting to buy bread, seasoning, and snacks at the grocery store, but did you know that you can save some cash by cooking from scratch? From homemade bread and cookies to barbeque marinade and granola bars, you can do so much with a small budget. You can also ensure that what you make is good for the family.

Grow your own food

If you have a small backyard or garden, you may want to try planting fruits trees and vegetables. Growing your own produce not only saves you some money but also ensures that you and your family are eating healthy meals. If you don’t have a small piece of land for planting, even growing your own herbs in pots will help cut grocery costs.

Take advantage of food on sale

Rice, beans, wheat, and canned goods have a long shelf life when stored properly, so stock up on these items once they go on sale. You can also buy a lot of perishable food at lower prices – just chop and freeze them so you can use them throughout the week.

Eat at home more frequently

After a long day at work, it’s easy to just bring the whole family to a restaurant for dinner, but eating out costs a lot. Instead, cook and eat meals at home more often to save money. If your family has restaurant favourites, you can research online for their recipes and learn how to make them so you don’t feel deprived of what you want to eat.

Final Thoughts

It can be really challenging to feed a large family on a small budget, but with these smart tips, you can feed your entire family even on a tight budget and still have good-tasting and healthy meals.

What are your other ways to save money on food for a large family? Share your tips on how to save money on family budget in the comments section below.

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4 Ways to Invest Money in Shares in Australia

Perhaps you’ve seen the indices speeding hastily across the bottom of your TV screen, or listened to business news and heard the ASX is an at all-time low or high. If it all seems like gobbledygook to you, that’s understandable. Even though we are told by numerous experts that we must invest in the sharemarket, finding information on how to invest money in shares can be tough to find. We hope to cut through the noise with this list of ways to invest money in Australia

Share Funds

Share funds are one way to invest money in shares indirectly. To invest you simply purchase units in a fund. The price of each unit will rise and fall depending on performance of the shares it holds. In Australia you can choose between managed funds (sometimes called active funds) and Index funds (sometimes called passive funds). Managed funds are headed up by an investment advisor who charges management fees. The investment advisor makes decisions how which shares to buy and sell, based on performance and their own expertise. Managed funds are the simplest way to invest in shares as they often have a low initial investment and allow regular contributions. Index funds simply track an index, such as the ASX 200. As they don’t require management, index funds tend to charge lower fees.

Directly with a broker

Individual shares must be purchased via a broker. The type of broker you use will depend on your level of expertise. A full service broker can offer advice and recommendations but you pay higher fees. This is good option for the brand new investor. If you choose to use an online broker (sometimes known as a discount broker), you need to be confident in your own research and purchase decisions, as they offer little to no advice, however their fees are much lower.

Pro tip: If you think picking stocks is the way you want to go, check out the Sharemarket Game, available here. You can invest $50,000 any way you like, without losing any real money!

Via your Superannuation

Almost all superannuation funds invest in shares. If your portfolio contains a balanced or growth fund, up to 80% of your super fund could be invested in shares. Check with your super provider on the split, and remember you can change the allocation of your super balance if you want to hold more shares.

Employee Share Schemes

Some companies offer shares in an employee share scheme as part of their remuneration package. You may be offered a discounted purchase price or low brokerage fees if you decide to participate. Investing in an employee share scheme holds the same risk as investing in any other shares, however as a shareholder and employee, you have a vested interest in helping the company perform.

Whether you choose to start investing in shares by purchasing units in funds or directly with a broker, remember to do your research before committing. If learning how to invest money is overwhelming or you’d just like to learn more, the ASX has an a range of excellent online courses available for free. You can check them out here.

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Money saving tips for your first mutual funds investment

A mutual fund describes a company that owns investments. A portfolio manager is hired and they are paid a management fee. They are responsible for investing the money raised by the fund using the strategy documented in a mutual fund’s prospectus. Making an investment can be a challenging experience for even the most seasoned investors; if this is your first time making an investment this can be even more worrying. Here are some money saving tips for your first mutual funds investment.

Don’t invest if you don’t understand

If you don’t have a clear understanding in the fund that you are investing in, don’t part with your money. You should be able to clearly explain the strategy used for your investment and its associated risks.

Think in periods greater than 5 years

It is easier to accumulate wealth when you invest for longer periods of time. It’s best to speak to your financial advisor with regards to your risk profile, however most advisors will tell you that a long term outlook will be better when investing. So when investing, it is important to keep this in mind. If you are looking for a shorter investment period, perhaps a mutual fund is not for you. As always, speaking to an expert first is always important!

Choose the best funds

There are many mutual funds to choose from, but if you want to make money you will need to find out which funds are best for you. To determine this you should start with a risk tolerance questionnaire. This will give you an idea of how much risk you can handle without panicking and selling your shares unnecessarily. Essentially, you are going to invest in the funds where you will make the most money with minimum risk.

Final thought

The best advice for a beginner is to keep it simple. It is also a good idea for first time investors to get financial advice from a professional as they can look at your situation and recommend products that suit you. Once you have decided on your long term investment goals, base the purchase of your fund on this plan and stick to it.

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How to reduce your home loan balance faster by making fortnightly repayments

Your payment frequency can impact the length of your home loan and the total interest you pay.

Your home loan repayments are likely to be one of your biggest expenses. This makes them a good place to start if you are looking to cut cost. Small changes to your interest rate or loan term can have a dramatic effect on the amount you end up paying in interest.

A simple, yet effective, trick to reduce your home loan balance is to make fortnightly repayments. Doing so will increase the amount you repay each year and get you out of debt sooner. How does this work? Let’s have a look.

Loan repayments are normally made monthly. This means you make 12 repayments each year. When you make fortnightly repayments, you end up make the equivalent of 13 repayments each year.

Here’s an example to demonstrate.

Let’s assume you have a 30-year loan for $300,000 and the interest rate is 4.5% p.a. Your monthly repayments are about $1500. By the end of the year, you would have paid roughly $18,000.

If you choose fortnightly payments your monthly repayment is split in two, for our example, it would be $750. However, and this is where you get the saving, you make repayments every two weeks, not twice a month.

There are 52 weeks in a year, so making repayments every second week means 26 repayments to a total of $19,500 each year.

You end up making 13 months’ worth of repayments each year!

Does it make that much of a difference? Yep. For our example, fortnightly repayments would have saved $40,000 in interest charges over the life of the loan and had it payback four years quicker.

Making fortnightly repayments isn’t any different to making additional repayments. Anything on top of your minimum monthly repayment will have the same effect.

The benefit of fortnightly repayments is that it doesn’t feel like you are paying any extra each month.

Play around with a mortgage repayment calculator to see how much you will save with fortnightly repayment.

If you want to save more on your mortgage you should first compare home loans to make sure you’re getting the best deal available. After that, fortnightly repayments are an easy way of getting ahead on your mortgage.

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Ways to save money for your first home while renting

Owning your own home is one of the life’s great achievements, but it is more of a marathon than a sprint event. Purchasing your home should be part of your long term financial plan and something you will need to work toward over a number of years.

Saving enough for a deposit while renting can be tough, but is achievable with consistent and dedicated saving. The discipline gained from this experience will be invaluable when it comes to ensuring you are able to meet your home loan repayments through all following stages of life. Here are some tips to help you find ways to save money for your first home while renting.

Be Consistent

Start saving regular amounts of your income before you spend any; save first, spend second. Open a high interest rate savings account and deposit your regular savings as soon as you are paid each week, fortnight or month. Try to increase your saving rate in small increments over a year, like 10% a month, it will make it easier to comfortably save increasingly larger amounts. 

Cut Costs

Next is to cut costs. Go to free events instead of concerts, use a bike instead of a car, cook for nutrition not glamour, learn new skills to not have to pay others to do stuff for you, and only buy second hand things for a year. Don’t worry too much about gimmicks that save you relatively small amounts on small expenses – look at eliminating or drastically reducing large expenses.

A 20% Deposit Can Actually Save You Money

Work toward saving a 20% deposit for the home you intend to buy. Without at least a 20% deposit you will have to pay for mortgage insurance, but don’t be fooled, just because you are paying for it doesn’t mean it benefits you. In fact, it is really for the banks benefit in case you default on your loan. It is a completely unnecessary and avoidable cost if you save at least 20% for your deposit.

20% of your estimated home cost is a good start, but be sure to consider the associated costs with buying a property and moving. You will need some extra cash for stamp duty, conveyancing, removals, and possibly furniture.

By making some minor lifestyle adjustments to reduce costs and allocating a regular portion of your income to savings, it is only a matter of time before you have enough for a deposit on your very own home.

Were you successful at saving a for your first home while renting? We’d love to hear how in the comments section below.

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Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Ways to Save Money

You don’t have to lash out on solar panels and an electric car or move to Nimbin and take up an alternative lifestyle in order to live a more eco-friendly life. What’s more you can be friendlier to the planet and your wallet by following eco-friendly lifestyle tips.

Many ways to be more environmentally conscious not only shrink your carbon footprint but fatten your wallet at the same time so you can feel twice as good about doing good! If you would like to save money with eco-friendly lifestyle tips here are just a few to get you started.

Eat less meat

Animal-based agriculture is harmful to the environment, resulting in rainforest destruction, excess water usage, land degradation and excessive carbon emissions. Good meat is also expensive. Cut down your meat consumption and replace animal protein with fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies. Grow your own fruit and veggies to save even more money and do even more good for the planet. Bonus: you’ll also be healthier and your food will be fresher and tastier.

Save water

Recycling as much water as possible onto your garden reduces your water rates while keeping your garden flourishing. Keep a plastic tub in the sink and put the leftover water in the garden every time you wash up the dishes. Also keep the water from boiling pasta or vegetables, let it cool then pour on your garden or indoor potplants.

If possible, reroute the outlet pipe on your washing machine and dishwasher so the greywater is directed outside and onto a garden bed. A low-flow showerhead in the bathroom will use 25 to 60 per cent less water than a conventional showerhead. Avoid leaving taps running (eg when you brush your teeth) and fix any leaking taps straight away.

Reduce food waste

By shopping more carefully and planning what to do with all your leftovers, you can reduce your food waste and spend less on food. Wasted food decomposing in landfill accounts for vast volumes of greenhouse gases so wasting less food is also good for the environment. Any food waste you still produce can be composted and added to improve your garden soil rather than going in the bin and being transported to a landfill site.

Reduce electricity usage

Saving energy is good for your budget and good for the planet. Use LED lights instead of incandescent globes, switch off lights and appliances when not in use, and use small appliances such as a pressure cooker, microwave and portable convection oven for cooking rather than your conventional stove. You can also turn down the hot water heater to a lower setting, insulate your roof, buy energy-efficient appliances with the highest possible star-rating and toss out the clothes dryer.

Buy everything secondhand

Other than a few exceptions of a personal nature (like underwear) a great way to save money and improve your carbon footprint is to buy everything you need secondhand from op shops, garage sales and sites like Gumtree and eBay.

Once you get into the swing of using money saving tips for an eco-friendly lifestyle like these you’ll soon see the benefits to your bank balance. Following these eco-friendly lifestyle tips and more will give you the satisfaction that you are helping the environment while saving money as well. A truly win-win situation!

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