It’s the hidden money leaks we often forget about. The online subscriptions. The utility direct debits. The food we throw out. The gym membership we never use. The superannuation statements we don’t check.
It’s money you’ve worked hard to earn, so there’s no benefit to flitting it away on things you don’t need or fees you could avoid.
Being able to account for all your money and where it goes should be your starting point. Look at your bank statement and if you’re left scratching your head at any of the transactions or withdrawals, investigate further. If you don’t remember spending that money, there’s a good chance you shouldn’t be spending it.
Here’s a list of common money leaks – and how to go about plugging them.
The things you pay for and don’t use
Think of all the things you buy and then forget about.
Do you have online subscriptions you don’t even remember purchasing? Magazine subscriptions you have no time to read? Untouched sports equipment? A gym you rarely visit? High-tech gadgets you thought would make life easier? Pay TV channels you never watch?
Work out what you can do without, or if there is a cheaper option. For example, movie streaming is a fraction of the price of Pay TV. Exercise is free if done in the great outdoors – team up with a friend for motivation.
Think about what you already have and find contentment in these things next time you want to make an unnecessary purchase.
The money you’re entitled to but don’t check
When was the last time you checked that your employer is paying the correct amount of superannuation on your behalf?
Make a habit of cross-checking your super statements against payslips or online transactions. If you have a myGov account you can check by logging in.
If you’re not sure how much your employer should be paying, use the online Estimate My Super tool.
It’s also worth checking you’re receiving the government benefits you may be eligible for. To find out more about relevant family and childcare support, go to the Department of Human Services website and type ‘payment finder’ into the search bar.
Don’t forget to check if you are eligible for the First Home Owners Grant when buying a new home.
The food you throw away
The average Australian household throws away $1050 worth of food each year! Whether it’s throwing away leftovers or food that has expired, that’s money in the bin.
To reduce food waste, make grocery lists and buy only what you need. Check the products don’t already exist in your cupboard before going shopping. When buying in bulk, look at the expiry date to be sure you can use it up in time. Designate a prominent space in your fridge for foods about to expire and use dinner leftovers for lunch.
The bills you never review
There’s no shortage of media reports about the increase in energy prices and how much you can save by switching to a different supplier. The same goes for any of the household bills we routinely pay without a second thought: mobile phone, internet, health insurance, compulsory third party and car insurance.
Online comparison websites are a good starting point for finding a better deal. Tell your current provider you’re unhappy, as they may offer discounts and flexible plans to keep your business.