Recent results from the RaboDirect Savings and Debt Barometer showed that “regular savers” are happier, healthier and in greater control over their financial destiny. Like many things in life, when it comes to your finances, it seems that it pays to have a routine.
Conversely, less than 20 per cent of “unrestrained spenders” said they were completely happy in life, and less than 10 per cent said they are comfortable with their finances.
If your style of saving is linked to your personal and financial happiness, maybe you’re an unrestricted saver and don’t know it? On the other hand, maybe you’re already a regular saver and you’re being too hard on yourself. Here’s how to tell which type of saver you are and how to become the saver you want to be:
You’re the best of the best on the savings front! Organised and with firm control over your finances, you’re the saver most Australians aspire to be. You value saving and it is something you do routinely and without question.
Tell-tale signs: You consider saving as essential as paying your rent or mortgage – and your savings account balance reflects this. You are likely to have an automated direct debit in place to deduct a regular designated amount of money from your salary.
What to do next: Regular savers were found to be the happiest and healthiest of those surveyed – so keep it up!
You have a realistic, healthy approach to savings. While you may not be as rigid in your approach as a regular saver, you appreciate the financial peace of mind that savings brings.
Tell-tale signs: You are likely to save regularly, but the amount you save varies from one pay cycle to the next.
What to do next: You’re definitely on the right track. However, if you’d like to have a little more in your rainy day fund, see if you can step it up a gear and commit a set amount to save each pay cycle.
It’s not that you don’t want to save, it may just be that you’re not in a financial position to save as much as you’d like. The opportunistic saver tops up their savings account on the odd occasion they find themselves with a few extra dollars.
Tell-tale signs: Opportunistic savers are those that head to the bank when they find themselves with a small surplus of funds. This means that any extra birthday or Christmas cash, the tax return you didn’t expect or that little Lotto win usually makes up the bulk of your savings balance.
What to do next: The prospect of saving regularly can seem a little daunting if you feel like you live one pay cheque to the next. Sit down and take a good, hard look at your earnings and expenses. Is there even a small margin that you could put aside? Remember: from little things, big things grow.
You habitually swing from saving to not saving at all. You understand why savings are essential to financial peace of mind but can be distracted by less sensible ways in which to spend your money.
Tell-tale signs: A big occasion like your wedding or the need for spending money for an impending holiday can see you change from a so-so periodic saver into a prudent one. You know how to save, but it’s more about pinning yourself down to committing to it for the long term.
What to do next: You need to upgrade your savings mentality from an incentive-driven, part-time one to full-time in order to see a long-term result. Making saving an automated process through direct debit could help. That way, it’s gone before you can think about spending it.
You tend to live within your means. You like to enjoy what you earn, so you may have a little owing on your credit card. Generally, however, you won’t be in the red. Your biggest issue is that you don’t tend to save, which means you would be hard up if you suddenly found yourself unable to work.
Tell-tale signs: You spend most of what you earn and try not to get yourself in high volumes of debt. You may have a little owing on a credit card as a result of splashing out on a recent holiday or splurge purchase, but tend to pay it off in a short time.
What to do next: The biggest danger is your lack of emergency funds. Now is as good a time as ever to start saving. Look to save a realistic, regular amount each pay cycle to overcome this and get you on your way to saving.
“Savings? What are they?” is likely your response to someone asking about your savings funds. You don’t save, but also tend to spend beyond your means. Money is a constant stress, but somehow you can’t seem to stop spending.
Tell-tale signs: Maxed-out credit cards, late notices on bills, overdue payments on loans and running behind on the rent are among your frequent financial battles. Fielding calls from debt collectors and having mild panic attacks after checking your bank balance online is starting to become the norm.
What to do next: You’re in need of a dramatic financial makeover. It’s time to tidy up and tackle your current debts so that you can get out the red. Professional advice may help you consolidate your debts, get better rates and help you implement a budget that fits your current financial state. Once you’re back on track, looking at how to save, rather than spend, will help give you more financial piece of mind.