Financial fitness: Get fit for summer and save money

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Andrea Sophocleous investigates how to make your body and your wallet fit this summer by checking out the latest savings accounts.

November 25, 2009

For most of us, the Australian summer is all about being outdoors and getting fit. The problem is that after hibernating during the winter months, we may also carry a little excess weight. Whether you blame it on the cold weather that keeps you indoors or all the comfort food that gets you through those dreary months, chances are you welcomed summer with a few extra kilos and a reduced level of fitness.

Getting fit can be an expensive exercise – gym memberships, exercise equipment and work-out gear – are just the beginning. However, it is possible to get fit for summer and save money while you're doing so.

Instead of opting for an expensive gym membership – which can set you back upwards of $700 a year – hit your local park or the beach for a run, go for a swim or ride your bike. In fact, swimming is an effective way to shed excess kilos as it burns more calories per hour than running, bicycling or weightlifting. Another option is to go for a walk during your daily lunch break – it's free and a great way to avoid the afternoon munchies!

Exercising outdoors will save you money you would have otherwise spent on a gym membership, but what about going one step further and actually earning money? While you exercise, your money could also be flexing its muscles, earning the best possible interest rate from a savings account.

Thanks to our recovering economy, interest rates are increasing – this is bad news for mortgage holders, but good news if your money is sitting in a high interest savings account.

At the time of writing, online savings accounts returned up to 5.46 percent p.a. with UBank’s USaver Account, and ING Savings Maximiser and RaboPlus Premium Saver are both 5.25 percent p.a.

If you were to deposit the $700 you would spend on a gym membership into a UBank USaver account for instance, in 12 months you would earn about $40 in interest at the current rate – and that's without making any additional deposits. If you deposited an extra $100 each month for 12 months, you would earn about $70 in interest and end up with almost $2,000 by the end of the year.

There are almost 1000 savings accounts listed on RateCity, so it's important to take the time to research your options. Features to consider include minimum deposit, fees and access to your funds.


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