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Four ways to cut your expenses in 2020

Four ways to cut your expenses in 2020

Saving money is a common New Year’s resolution but taking action is not always easy.

Many of us are guilty of setting a fresh goal on January 1, only to find ourselves giving up a few days into the year.

As the saying goes, a good beginning is half the battle, so it could be a good idea to start with reducing your smaller, unnecessary expenses, rather than trying to put away 50 per cent of your pay from the get-go.

And if all else fails, consider setting this mini goal to kick off the new decade: find at least one thing to cut back on in your regular expenses, and commit to it.

Not sure where to start? 

Here are four expenses you could potentially bring back or shave off completely.

Cut a digital subscription or membership you don’t need

One of the best costs to look at cutting are recurring ones. Living in the digital age, it’s easy to lose track of online subscriptions and the automatic payments that we get charged for these.

Look at your bank or PayPal statements and make a list of your regular online subscriptions and see if there is one that you can live without. Common ones are Netflix, Spotify, Audible, Adobe Photoshop and VPN programs. Other things to look for are meal box subscriptions like Marley Spoon and gym memberships. 

Be honest with yourself: which are the ones you actually use regularly, do you have multiple subscriptions that provide the same service and which ones have you not touched in a while? To give a bit of perspective on how much you could be pocketing back, axing the cheapest ‘basic’ Netflix membership would save you about $120 a year.

Avoid spoiling your pet

If you have a pet, you know how expensive your fur babies can be. Although many costs are necessary, such as vet and health expenses, many are not a must. 

For starters, you can bring down the expenses by trimming your pet’s hair and nails yourself. While it might take some practice at first, you could be saving about $640 worth of grooming sessions per year. And if you’re forking out even more cash for extras such as luxury pet boarding, you could instead try to ask a favour from a friend or neighbour.

If you don’t have a pet, but you are thinking about getting one, consider buying or adopting a pet from a shelter or the RSPCA. Not only are there a bunch of costs you’d be saving, as the pet would already be de-sexed, wormed and vaccinated, you’d also be saving the life of an animal by giving them a home.

Make takeaway a treat, not a regular thing

With Australia’s flourishing foodie scene, it’s hard not to pull out your wallet in the face of temptation.

But if you’re spending about $15 on work lunches per weekday, $4 on your morning coffees plus dining out on weekends, that’s an estimated $195 per week you’re blowing just on food and drinks (excluding booze and the occasional food delivery order).

Put this money back in your pocket by cooking and packing lunches from home. Not only will you save money, but you’ll potentially be much healthier long-term. While it would be unreasonable to force yourself to eat at home every single day, it’s a good idea to limit dining out or food delivery to the weekends as a treat.

Move to a ‘bridesmaid’ suburb

This one might seem like a huge commitment (no, we’re not talking about getting hitched): relocating to a more affordable area.

Perhaps you’re reluctant to move because you’re fond of your neighbourhood and the lifestyle that comes with it. You could consider moving to a ‘bridesmaid’ suburb, which could save you thousands in the long run. This is usually the suburb next door that shares the same vibe and has similar amenities, but with a much cheaper price tag. It’s generally less expensive because it might be considered as the poor cousin of the nearby ‘bride’ suburb, and simply doesn’t have the same brand attached to it.

For example, the weekly median rent for a one-bedroom unit in Sydney’s Marrickville is $450, but one train stop away in Dulwich Hill, it is $400, according to Realestate.com.au. You could be saving $2600 a year just by moving to a ‘bridesmaid’ suburb.

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This article was reviewed by Business & Finance Writer Rachel Wastell before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about bank accounts

How can I deposit cash into my bank account?

The traditional way to deposit cash into your bank account is to go to a branch and give it to a teller. These days, many banks will allow you to make deposits through an ATM as well.

How do you open a bank account in Australia?

Opening a bank account in Australia is usually a straightforward process. Some banks give you the option of opening an account online, while others require you to visit a branch.

Different bank accounts offer different features, so it’s best to compare your options to find one that suits you.

All banks require you to pass an identity check to open a bank account. Australia uses the 100-point identification system, which means you’ll need to show a number of forms of ID that, together, add up to 100 points.

Common ID types include a driver’s licence, passport, Australian visa in a foreign passport, and Australian Medicare card. You’ll find out what types of ID are accepted when you go through the sign-up process online or at a branch.

Once your account is open, you’ll be given or sent a debit card that you can use to make purchases and withdraw money from your account.

What do you need to open bank accounts?

Opening a bank account is one of the simplest online tasks you could perform. The hard part is deciding which type of bank account you want to open.

All banking institutions have a website where you hit ‘apply’ on the account of your choice and step through an application in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s a list of information that is generally required for applications.

  • Identification (driver’s licence, passport, proof of age card, proof of citizenship and/or birth certificate)
  • Tax file number (so you don’t get charged the highest tax rate)
  • Address, contact email and phone number

If you decide to open a new account at the branch, make sure you ask beforehand what information you need to take with you, or take all of the above to be safe.

Can debt collectors take money out of your bank account?

Many people find themselves struggling to cope with debt at one time or another. In these cases, a debt collector could contact you to demand payment for a debt, to explain the consequences of you failing to pay a debt, or to organise alternative payment arrangements.

If you’re contacted by a debt collector, you may be wondering what their rights are and whether they can take money out of your bank account.

Creditors cannot access money in your bank account unless a court order (also known as a ‘garnishee order’) is made to allow creditors to recover debt by taking money from your bank account or salary.

If this happens, the creditor can take money out of your bank account unless you pay the debt in full or make an alternative payment arrangement such as paying in instalments through the court.

Do you need a bank account to get a credit card?

To get a credit card, you need to show proof of income, which will almost certainly require you to have a bank account.

Can I have a PayPal account without a bank account?

You don’t need a bank account to send or receive money through PayPal. However, you do need a bank account if you want to withdraw money from your PayPal account.

How do you set up a bank account online?

Once you’ve compared bank accounts and found the right one, the process of opening a bank account online is quite simple and can be done in around 10 minutes.

To set up a bank account online, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide an approved form of ID as well as your tax file number (TFN).

If you’re a new customer of the bank, you’ll need to verify your identity and potentially upload documents before you can complete your online application.

Once your ID has been verified and you’ve set up your bank account online, you should receive your bank cards in the mail along with your PIN and any other account details.

How can I close a Commonwealth Bank account?

You can close your Commonwealth Bank account at any branch, provided you have appropriate identification. You can also close your account over the phone, by calling 132 221, 24 hours a day.

Can foreigners open bank account in Australia?

If you’re migrating, studying or working in Australia, you’ll be pleased to know that you can open an Australian bank account. For the most part, opening a bank account in Australia is a simple process which starts by comparing the types of bank accounts foreigners can open in Australia.

Once you’ve found a bank account that suits your needs, you can start the application process.

When you apply for the account, you’ll need to provide proof of ID which may include your passport, overseas ID or credit card. You may also need to provide a copy of your visa and proof of address in Australia.

Depending on the bank and the type of account you choose, you may be able to apply for the account online or over the phone before you arrive in Australia.

How do I close my bank account online?

You can usually easily open a bank account online, but you often can’t close it online.

Many banks and credit unions will only let you close an account if you go into a branch or call them on the phone.

However, some banks will let you request to close the account via your internet banking. Check your financial provider’s website for details.

Just remember: If you still have funds in the bank account, transfer them to another account, or withdraw the cash. Also, if you have any payments like direct debits going in or out of the bank account, these will also stop when you close your account.

What do I need to open bank accounts online?

Opening a bank account online is a simple process and only takes between five to 10 minutes to complete. To get started you will need a computer or smartphone with internet access.

Information to have available when you’re ready to apply is:

  • Identification (such as driver’s licence, birth certificate, passport, proof-of-age card)
  • Tax file number
  • Residential address, email and a contact number

In some cases, you might be asked to provide employment details. If you’re not able to verify your identity online, most financial institutions let you provide this in the branch at a later date.

There are some types of bank account that you can apply for only in a branch. However, most bank accounts can be applied for conveniently online.

How do I overdraw my Commonwealth Bank account?

Overdrawing a bank account can happen by accident. It’s often hard to know what your balance is, particularly with direct debits, scheduled repayments and pending transactions competing for cash.

To avoid being stuck with a bank fee every time your account is overdrawn, you can apply for a personal overdraft. This will enable you to overdraw your account up to an approved amount.

A personal overdraft is connected to your CommBank Everyday Account, so you can enjoy easy access to extra funds once approved – anywhere from $100 up to $20,000.

Your overdraft funds can be accessed via your CommBank keycard or Debit MasterCard, or online through NetBank and the CommBank app.

To apply you can either call the Commonwealth Bank directly or visit your local branch.

How do you deposit change into your bank account?

One way to deposit change into your bank account is to visit a branch. Many lenders will also allow you to deposit your change through one of their ATMs.

Can you open a bank account at 16?

Yes, you can open a bank account at 16, or even younger. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.