There's nothing quite so life giving as that first whiff of spring flowers blooming. Dull, overcast skies give way to rays of sunshine flooding through our windows – revealing each and every speck of dust that’s settled over winter.
It’s spring-cleaning time, right? Sadly, our bank accounts rarely get the same light cast over them – but they’re no less in need of a diligent spruce up.
So, here are our top seven tips for giving your back pocket a spring clean!
1. Declutter your monthly budget
It’s oh so easy to let ongoing expenses pile up like pairs of worn-out shoes shoved away in a closet. If you’re feeling like your budget is worn a bit thin every month – much like those sneakers with a hole in the sole – it’s best to give excess spending the boot.
Ask yourself, where’s your money going each month? It’s near impossible to keep track of spending without laying it out bare in front of you and looking for budget clutter in your transaction history. Keep your eyes peeled for subscriptions to stuff you forgot you had, a reliance on meal delivery instead of home cooking or any familiar patterns of impulse spending.
2. Plant seeds that grow your savings
There’s more to saving and spending than just “do more of one and less of the other”. We all need to cough up hard earned dosh but it’s the way we spend that makes a difference. If you have a Virgin Money Credit Card you can earn a slew of rewards and benefits with Virgin Money Rewards while you shop, which you can then convert to proper perks like supermarket vouchers and other goodies.1
When it comes to saving, look at moving your money into a high interest savings account like our Boost Saver linked to a Virgin Money Go Account. You can earn our high Bonus Interest rate when you meet monthly criteria. A few extra percentage points can make a big difference over time – especially if you are saving for a major purchase like a house. If you need a little extra help to save your savings from yourself, you can even set up our Lock Saver feature to rid yourself of temptation to dip in. If you turn on the Lock Saver Feature you will need to provide us with 32 days’ advance notice before you can access your funds.
3. Dust off your insurance policy
Ah, insurance. It’s the safety net that nobody likes paying for. While it’s absolutely essential, it’s also worth checking those nets once in a while to make sure you’re not getting trapped by the “lazy tax”.
What’s the lazy tax? Well, think about it like this: the squeaky wheel gets grease – but the lazy wheel gets fleeced. Companies love when their customers are too busy (or complacent) to bother checking if they’re overpaying for the same or similar products compared to current competitor offers on the market.
So put a spring in your step by making a list of your insurance policies. Work out what you’re paying for each and get researching to see if you can find better value for money. You could potentially save by switching or even grouping your policies. Want to stay with your current provider? Call them and let them know (nicely) that you’re considering other offers anyway. More often than not they’ll offer you a discount to retain your business.
4. Check out this season’s hottest new offers
With the cost of living rising faster than the temperature gauge at the moment, you should shop around to find the best offers on utilities like power, gas and home internet. Plenty of providers offer new customer sign up bonuses for their first 6-12 months. Sadly, brand loyalty doesn’t pay in most cases. Like we mentioned for insurance above, you could also call up your current provider and negotiate price matches and retention offers for staying.
Internet plans change often because of the ongoing rollout of the NBN to different areas and technology upgrades. Check regularly to make sure you’re getting a good deal on your speed (bandwidth) and download capacity – you might be stuck on an old legacy plan and switching over to a new one could net you a speed boost or a cheaper deal.
5. Fold all your super into one neat pile
Got multiple superannuation accounts? If you said yes, you could be literally losing money on unnecessary fees as you read this. Why not consolidate into one? While you’re at it, take the time to weigh up the fee vs return trade-off to make sure your super is giving you the most bang for your buck. Remember, the longer your savings stay in your account, the more your balance will grow thanks to compound interest.
And you don’t have to rely on employer payments – take a look at your super fund’s website to see how things like after tax payments, salary sacrifice, spouse contributions or a government co-contribution (for eligible low income earners) can add to your future savings.
6. Have a spring fling with pre-tax payments
Did you know you could save money on things like life insurance and novated leases by paying for them from your salary before tax? If you’re right on the threshold of a higher tax bracket, making contributions before tax could bump you back down to a lower percentage. Don’t worry – it’s totally legit (we just know someone from the ATO is reading this).
Speak to a financial advisor or accountant and ask them what they recommend for you.
7. Get your groceries in the green
A recent investigation by Guardian Australia took a look at where we get our fruit and veggies and discovered that major supermarkets are 'almost never the cheapest option'. Where should you go for your fresh juicy mangos this spring then? It turns out independent and Asian grocers seem to offer the best mango for your bucko.
Ian Jarratt from the Queensland Consumers Association told The Guardian 'Consumers can’t just sit back and assume they’re going to be the best price here or the best price there because it doesn’t work like that. The system we have means consumers have got to play their part and be active, to shop around and compare values.'
By avoiding big chains you’re not just supporting small businesses and farmers, but you’ll save on all the delicious fresh spring produce. Go wild on adding avocados this year!
Put your best financial foot forward
Make every dollar count with a Virgin Money Go Account on the Virgin Money App.
1. Earn 1 Virgin Money Point for every $1 spent on Eligible Transactions. There is no limit to the amount of points you can earn. Points will be transferred to your Virgin Money Rewards account within 15 Business Days after an Eligible Transaction has been processed by us. To earn and redeem Virgin Money Points, you must hold a Virgin Money Anytime Rewards Credit Card and add your credit card to your account profile in the Virgin Money app. Points earn and redemption are subject to the Virgin Money Rewards Terms and Conditions and the Credit Card Rewards Program for Anytime Rewards, Low Rate and No Annual Fee Card Terms and Conditions Terms and Conditions. Eligible Transaction means any purchase excluding (but not limited to) Cash Advances, Balance Transfers, Special Promotions, BPAY payments, refunds and chargebacks, purchases of foreign currency and travellers cheques, transactions made in operating a business, bank fees and charges such as interest and ATM charges, and government related transactions. Government related transactions include transactions with government or semi-government entities, or relating to services provided by or in connection with government (for example but not limited to transactions made at Australia Post, payments to the Australian Taxation Office, council rates, motor registries, tolls, parking stations and meters, fares on public transport, fines and court related costs). See Credit Card Rewards Program for Anytime Rewards, Low Rate and No Annual Fee Card Terms and Conditions for full details and definitions.
Bonus Interest rate applies up to a combined balance of $250,000 on all your Boost Saver's held in the same name as your Virgin Money Go Account. Monthly Criteria will be met when both the following conditions are met:
- Deposit at least $1,000 into your Go Account from another financial institution in the previous calendar month
- Make at least 5 settled debit card purchases (not pending), direct debits or BPAY payments in the previous calendar month from your Go Account.
Monthly Criteria is waived for customers between 14-17 years of age. For more information visit the Rates & Fees section.