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

How can I find bank accounts in my name?

To find ‘live’ bank accounts in your name, you’ll have to ask individual lenders, which involves contacting them one by one and proving your identity each time. To find ‘unclaimed’ bank accounts (those that have been inactive for at least seven years), you can use this website.

How do you transfer money from PayPal to a bank account?

Transferring money from PayPal to an Australian bank account is simple. Just follow these three steps:

  • Go to your Wallet
  • Click ‘Transfer Money’
  • Follow the instructions

The money will take three to seven business days to reach your bank account.

Once you’ve made the transfer request, it can’t be withdrawn.

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.

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 a debt collector garnish my bank account?

A debt collector can garnish your bank account, but only with a court order. This drastic action is usually taken only if you’ve ignored several notices asking you to pay the debt.

If this happens, there is nothing you can do to stop it other than immediately pay back your what you owe in full or make arrangements to pay it off in installments.

Once a garnishee order is issued, your bank will put a freeze on your account as it processes the order. This usually takes two to three days and you won’t be able to access any of your money during this time.

If you have Centrelink payments, they may be protected, depending on what the court order says.

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.

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.

How do I open a bank account for a child?

There are few better ways for a child to learn about money management than through savings. And there’s a plethora of bank accounts designed specifically for young people and children.

A bank account for a child can be opened online, over the phone or in a branch in a few easy steps. The minimum age a child can open a bank account for themselves usually ranges between 12 and 14.

If the child is too young to open the account, you can do it for them as their legal parent or guardian. 

To do this, you would need to be over 18, have an Australian residential address and currently reside in Australia (or have proof of residency).

You would also need to provide:

  • Identification for yourself and the child
  • Your tax file number (TFN) or TFN exemption

Depending on the bank account, you might be able to choose what level of access the child has to their bank account (online and via the phone).

How can I wire money to a bank account?

You can wire money to an Australian bank account either through your own bank or by using a money transfer company such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Either way, you’ll need the other person’s name, BSB number and account number. If you use a money transfer company, you might also need to provide the recipient’s address for large payments.

Can I close my bank account over the phone?

In most cases, you can close a personal or business bank account over the phone. In fact, this is the best way to ensure you’ve closed an account properly.

By speaking to a banking representative, you can capture and close out any pending transactions, or interest owing/payable on the account being closed.

In the instance where the account is a joint account, or you have multiple bank accounts you want to close, your bank may send you a form that you need to fill out and return.

Either way, you would be advised over the phone of the steps you need to take. Calling your bank ahead of closing an account is often a smart course of action.

Can I open a bank account in another country?

Despite having a bad rap for facilitating tax evasion, it is possible and legal to open a bank account in another country, also known as an ‘offshore account’.

Some people choose to open a bank account in another country to invest overseas, for higher interest-earning potential or to access foreign banking services.

The process for opening an offshore bank account differs depending on the financial institution and country in which you’re opening the account.

Typically, you will need to provide identification such as a passport, a local bank statement and a signed declaration proving the source of the money being used to open your account. Usually, deposits into offshore accounts can be made by international money transfer.

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.

Can Centrelink access your bank account?

Yes, Centrelink can access your bank account, but only if you give them a reason to. Centrelink uses data-matching software with other federal government agencies to help it crack down on welfare cheats.

This is why it’s important to give true and matching information to all government agencies.

For example, if you report to Centrelink your annual income is $25,000, but at tax time you report your income as $50,000 with the ATO, it’s likely you’ll be ‘red flagged’.

At this point, Centrelink can legally request that your bank hand over your personal bank account details, to review your finances.

In most cases, Centrelink does not have the authority to take money out of your account. You will usually be given written notice to repay the debt.

However, Centrelink can also reduce your benefits until you’ve paid back what you owe. In extreme cases, Centrelink can garnish your wages and assets (including money in your bank account) until your debt is repaid.

Can I link a bank account to Paypal?

Paypal is a safe and convenient way to pay online without the need to share your financial details. You can send and receive money or accept credit and debit cards as a seller using Paypal.

It’s easy to link your bank account to a Paypal account and start making transactions within minutes.

To start, you first need a Paypal account (it’s free to join). When setting up your Paypal account, you will be prompted to link a credit card or bank account (or both if you wish).

PayPal works without a balance; you can use Paypal to shop or send money when your balance is zero.

When your Paypal balance is zero, Paypal will ask you to choose your preferred payment method at the checkout.

This could be either your linked bank account or credit card. Your bank details can be updated if you change banks or credit cards.