10 money-saving hacks

26 June 2024

  • Discover how much money you could save by make a few small tweaks to your spending habits
  • The cost of living crisis has everyone feeling the pinch, but we have the tools, tips and financial support to ease the pressure
  • Keeping track of everything from your shower head to your wardrobe to your freezer can help you stay in control of your finances and better manage your money 

Chances are you’re familiar with the butterfly effect. Put simply, it’s the idea that small changes can lead to significant outcomes over time. When applied to the financial pressure many of us are dealing with, the following tips are all about making time for small adjustments. As time goes by, they can help you feel more in control and free up some much-needed cash.

1. Check your credit score

You know your height. You probably know your blood type. But do you know your credit score? It’s your financial fingerprint and goes on every application you make to lenders, landlords and some employers. And you can check it for free. Just head to the library in your CommBank app, tap Credit score and follow the instructions to discover your score and decode the details. And if you find late payments are lowering your score, there are ways to bring it back up. Keep tabs, take control and unlock new doors of financial opportunity.

2. Join the circular economy

Next time you’re buying something new, why not sell something you don’t use first?

Half the sellers on platforms like eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are offloading unused items. And one in four are making more than $500 for their efforts. While you’re selling, you might even find what you’re buying, at a lower price. Just check the condition, warranty and seller’s reputation and if it doesn’t stack up, tell them they’re dreaming. And often you can fund a new bargain with the proceeds from your unwanted item. So join the circular economy – it’s a savvy, sustainable win-win.

3. The no-spend month

Wonder where your hard-earned cash goes each week? Those daily coffee runs, takeaway treats and impulse buys can add up fast. Enter the “no-spend month” challenge – your budget-friendly detox. Bills, groceries and essentials are in play but for everything else, hit pause. The average Australian household reportedly spends $270 a week on culture and entertainment – so there’s money to be saved if you stash your credit cards and find some free local fun. A no-spend month is the perfect opportunity to plug those spending leaks and watch your savings grow.

4. Drive down the price

Running a car isn’t cheap, so how can you help minimise costs? Don’t automatically renew your car insurance – shop around and see what deals you can find. If you don’t drive a lot, you may find a discount. Safe driving saves on both speeding tickets and insurance premiums. Some states will even discount your licence renewal for a clean record. If you’re in NSW or the ACT, save with the CommBank app’s Fuel finder, which will show you the cheapest petrol prices nearby.

5. Rent your wardrobe

Ever notice how our most expensive outfits are the ones we wear the least? Sure, it was a night to remember but it was an expense you’d rather forget. So what if you could dress to impress without the stress? You can, by renting instead of buying. Through companies such as GlamCorner and The Volte, you can rent (or lend) dresses, suits, accessories, you name it. You borrow, you dazzle and you return. So next time you’ve got a big event, remember: the spotlight’s on you, not your wallet.

6. Turn on your star power

Still using that old dryer that’s seen better days? It could be time to think about buying an energy-efficient model. When shopping, check the energy ratings – more stars mean more savings. And be smart with usage.

Appliances can account for 30% of your home energy use so getting rid of that second fridge you barely use could save you about $172 each year. Even skipping the dryer to hang out clothes just once a week could save you another $70. So line up the savings!

7. Secure your tech

Saving money starts with not losing it – especially to cybercriminals. So take a second to up the security on your tech.

  • Turn your passwords into passphrases by using a mix of letters, symbols and numbers to tell a story.
  • Make it unique – easy to remember, hard to crack – and switch on multi-factor authentication for protection.
  • Keep software up to date – that’s your first defence against vulnerabilities.

Don’t forget: your bank will never ask for your password, PINs or codes. Lock it down and don’t let cyber-crooks pick your digital pocket.

8. Set-and-forget financial goals

Want to hit your financial targets? Get specific about the where, when and how. Behavioural research says clear planning boosts success. Simplify the journey by automating your savings and debt payments. Use your CommBank app to set up regular transfers to your savings or investment accounts. Let these auto-payments chip away at debt or pool funds for a holiday in the background. You choose your goals, set and forget. The system does the rest. And this financial autopilot frees you up to focus elsewhere – like planning where you’ll go on that trip away you can now afford.

9. Eat what you’ve got

Ordering out feels easy but the cost can hit hard. Aussies spend an average of $60 a week on takeaway – more than $3000 per year. To avoid the pain, try the “if you’ve got it, eat it” challenge. Open your fridge, freezer and pantry. See those ingredients? It’s time they landed on your plate. Apps and websites like SuperCook can give you recipe ideas based on the ingredients you have. So get creative and watch as your food waste goes down and your savings go up. Check out our resident chef Adam Liaw’s recipes to create easy delicious budget-friendly meals at home.

10. Look at your data usage

If you’re connected to work or home networks most of the time, there’s a good chance you’re paying for more data than you need.

Use your provider’s app to keep tabs on usage – you may find that you only need 15GB per month, rather than unlimited data. If you’re paying for loads of data you’re not using, that’s hard-earned dollars streaming out the window. Try downsizing your data plan – the savings might surprise you. 

Save money with these extra tips:

Swipe your library card and save

If you haven’t used your local library for a while, it’s time to get reacquainted. Libraries have evolved and many now offer a variety of digital content free to enjoy anywhere. There’s not just the latest eBooks, there’s also music and video content on user-friendly mobile apps. Some libraries even offer co-working spaces and free WiFi. It’s time to dust off that library card and unlock great savings.

Upgrade your showerhead

Ever find yourself losing track of time (and water usage) in the shower? Switch to a water-efficient showerhead and you could save a bucket load. Old-school showerheads can gush 25L of water per minute. New designs slash that to as little as 7.5L and every drop saved is money in the bank. But don’t worry – it’s not a drizzle, it’s the same pressure, just less water. Sound invigorating? It is.

Bargain like a boss

Do you haggle to buy things on holiday but not at home? You’re leaving money on the table. Most brands have more wiggle room than they let on.

From phone plans to insurance, it pays to check the competition and ask if they can do better.

It can feel awkward but just be polite and remember: the worst they can say is no. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Shop smart

Small changes in the way you shop for groceries will save you cold, hard cash every time. Skip pre-chopped produce and pay attention to the unit price. It reveals the real cost per quantity or size, making comparisons a breeze. 

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An earlier version of this article was published in Brighter magazine

This article provides general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as personal financial product advice. The views expressed by contributors are their own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of CBA. As the information has been provided without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on this information, consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Terms and Conditions, and whether the product is appropriate to your circumstances. You should also consider whether seeking independent professional legal, tax and financial advice is necessary. Every effort has been taken to ensure the information was correct as at the time of printing but it may be subject to change. No part of the editorial contents may be reproduced or copied in any form without the prior permission and acknowledgement of CBA.