Saving money won't cost you the earth

Saving money won't cost you the earth

Besides stashing away regular money into a high interest savings account or cutting up your credit cards there are clever ways to save money that will have a positive impact on your bank account, as well as our environment.

With Earth Hour casting darkness over the world this weekend – in the name of environmental conservation – we thought it would be fitting to share with you some of our RateCity user’s savings tips – a lot of which are quirky but clever.

Save on electricity

“This drives my wife crazy but I unplug everything in our house – except when we use it. Phantom energy use really adds up!” Bryn Probett said.

“Run appliances such as clothes dryers and dishwashers at night to avoid peak energy rates and the humid heat they generate,” Rob Haydon recommended.

“Reduce your power bill by training your dog to lie across the bottom of the door. This will reduce drafts in winter and stop cool air escaping in summer,” Owen humourlessly suggested.

Avoid food waste

“Do your grocery shopping online to avoid buying things you don’t need and to work out the best price per unit,” Alison Loxton suggested.

“Do a regular $30 food-challenge: Plan your meals from whatever is left in your pantry/fridge and spend no more than $30 that week,” Irene Pelow recommended. 

“Get together with a few families and buy in bulk at your local wholesaler or farmers markets. This way you get fresh produce, save money on packaging and it’s great for environment,” Claire Thrower.

And finally, Jeff Shillitto’s suggestion to “pour any leftover milk from your breakfast cereal back in to the bottle” may be a little extreme but you get his idea – waste not want not.

Water savings tips

“Install artificial grass, best thing to do in Perth, as it saves on your water and power bill as there’s no need for water irrigation system!” Phillipa Giltay shared.

“Save money on your water bill, like my parents did, by putting pebbles in the toilet water tank. Displace a litre or two of water and save!” Gianna (Gigi) Huesch recommended.

“Reduce your water bill by mulching your garden with free garden mulch. Tree loppers will gladly give away mulch to avoid paying tip fees,” Sue Wood reveals.

Go green

“Reuse and re-purpose food containers (sour cream, etc.) instead of buying new containers,” Jody Buhagiar suggested.

“Research homemade cleaning products. You’ll be amazed what you can do with white vinegar, lemons and baking soda. Cheap and environmentally friendly,” Nicole Morris recommended.

“Grow a vegetable garden. It’s chemical-free, convenient, allows for family involvement and harvests fresh, fabulous produce that is readily available and almost free,” Joanne Sellers said.

And for one final money, environment – and life – tip, take heed of our savvy RateCity user’s advice and always shop with your husband.

“I save money by shopping with my husband. All browsing is accompanied with ‘What do you need that for?’” Annette Nardini joked.

Earth Hour is a worldwide event aimed at conserving our environment by switching off all lights for one hour. On March 29 at 8:30pm Australia will be switching off their lights – this year to mark the threat of climate change on Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef. 

 

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Learn more about savings accounts

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details