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 You could be saving $2600 a year just by moving to a ‘bridesmaid’ suburb.

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Learn more about bank accounts

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.

How do I open a bank account for a baby?

If you’ve just welcome a new baby into the world, congratulations. Opening a bank account for your child can be a wonderful first gift.

Before you can open your child an account, you’ll need to have a birth certificate or passport for your baby.

As the parent or guardian, you’ll also be listed as a joint holder on the account. This means you’ll need to have proof of your identification and address (a driver’s licence, passport, birth certificate or Medicare Card).

Many banks and credit unions offer baby banks accounts. Usually, you can apply online; otherwise you can head into a local branch or office with your documents.

How can you cash a cheque without a bank account?

You can cash a cheque without a bank account if you visit the bank that issued the cheque. For example, if somebody sends you a cheque from Bank X (as written on the cheque) and you visit Bank X, it’s likely that Bank X will let you cash the cheque – provided the person who wrote the cheque has enough money in their account. Bank X would probably charge you a fee for the service.

Do I need to open a business bank account?

Just because you’re in business doesn’t necessarily mean you need a business bank account. You could be a sole trader not registered for GST, and use your personal bank account for business.

If you do want a business account, there are plenty of benefits attached to business transaction and savings accounts, as well as business term deposits.

There are business bank accounts designed for businesses with a high volume of transactions, and those for start-ups with a small amount of trade. You could also include an EFTPOS service with your account.

Some business bank accounts charge for the number of transactions per month, while others offer a pay-as-you-go fee structure, where you only pay fees for transactions you make.

It’s up to you whether your priority is mainly transactions, or earning the maximum amount of interest on your principal. There’s a business banking solution for you if you need one.

Can you deposit money into somebody else's bank account?

One of the easiest banking tasks in the world is depositing money. You can even deposit money into someone else’s bank account if you wish.

The basic information you need to deposit money into a third-party bank account is:

  • Payee’s name
  • Bank, building society or credit union (though this isn’t necessary)
  • BSB (or bank code, which is the branch identifier)
  • Account number

Including the name of the financial institution isn’t necessary – particularly with online banking – because the BSB will identify this for you.

A handy tip is to record yourself (or add a personal message) in the transaction description or reference. This will show up on the recipients account, letting them know who’s paid them the money.

How do I open a bank account if I'm under 18?

The good news for savvy young folks like you wanting to take charge of your finances is that there are many bank accounts available for under-18s.

For bank accounts that require you to be 18 or older, you’ll have to rope in a parent or guardian to open the account for you.

Otherwise, you can apply by yourself online or at the branch of the bank, credit union or building society that has the account you would like to open. 

If applying online, you might be asked for a form of identification. For under-18s, this could be a Medicare card you’re listed on, your birth certificate and/or your current home address.

In most cases, you can verify your identity online (at the time of applying) or at the branch afterwards.

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.

Can I start a bank account online?

Yes, most lenders that operate in Australia will let you set up a bank account online. The process is usually simple and takes five to 10 minutes. You will probably need to provide a passport or birth certificate, as well as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or another form of secondary identification. Requirements differ from lender to lender, so some institutions might ask for more or different forms of ID.

How do you change your account name on NAB banking?

Changing the name on your NAB bank account is straightforward, as long as you have the right documents.

If you’ve just got married, divorced or legally changed your name, here’s what you need:

  • Married – a marriage certificate
  • Divorced –your ‘decree nisi’
  • Legal name change –your legal name change certificate

You can take either the original document, or a certified copy, into a NAB branch, where it needs to be sighted by a bank employee and a copy taken.

Your NAB bank account name will be updated immediately. New debit, ATM and credit cards with your updated name will also need to be issued. These usually take between five to 10 working days to be posted out to you. Your existing cards will keep working until you activate your new ones.

If you haven’t legally changed your name, but just want to change your account nicknames, you can log onto NAB and do it through the Settings/Mailbox menu.

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.

How do you delete your bank account from PayPal?

Deleting your bank account from PayPal is a simple three-step process:

  • Go to your Wallet
  • Choose the account you’d like to delete
  • Click ‘Remove bank account’

What do I need to open a company bank account?

To open a company bank account, you will probably have to provide 100 points of ID, an ABN and an ACN. You will probably have to provide the details of all signatories as well.

Are bank accounts frozen when someone dies?

Yes, Australian bank accounts are frozen when someone dies. If you want to close the account of somebody who has died, you might have to provide proof of death and a copy of the will. You might also have to prove your relationship to the deceased person.

If you have a joint bank account with somebody who has died, you will generally be entitled to all the money in the account. Again, you might have to provide proof of death if you want to change the bank account from a joint account to a one-person 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.