Finance Your Budget THE GOOD NEWS: How to save $20,000 in one year

THE GOOD NEWS: How to save $20,000 in one year

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From losing weight to quitting smoking there are many things you can do ti improve the family budget this year. But if you’re looking for some extra incentive to stick to your goals in 2014 ran the numbers on a list of popular New Year’s resolutions to reveal exactly how much sticking to your resolve could save you in the year ahead.

1. Quit smoking (save $5,824)

As well as being the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia, smoking can also burn a serious hole in your pocket. As the price of cigarettes continues to climb breaking the habit has never looked better for your health, or your bank account. A typical pack of cigarettes will easily set you back around $16, which for pack-a-day smokers translates to $112 a week and $5824 per year. Over the course of a nasty ten-year habit, you’re looking at enough cash to pay down a serious chunk of your mortgage or kick-start an investment property or share portfolio.

2. Eat healthier (save $2,574)

Junk food, take away and highly processed snacks are setting you back thousands of dollars a year as well as adding to your risk of cardiovascular disease. Trading in three takeaway dinners and three processed snacks each week for home made and fresh alternatives could save you a small fortune and leave you looking and feeling better for it. Trading a Chinese takeaway abd drink ($20) for a home made stir-fry and iced water ($5) and a chocolate bar snack ($2) for an apple (50c) would save you $16.50 a day. Do that three times a week and over the course of a year and you’re looking at a savings of $2,574.

3. Drink less (save $5,928)

There’s no doubt about it. Australians love their tipple, but the cost of a couple of ‘big nights’ a week can add up to serious cash over time. At $6 a beer, eight drinks per night would easily set you back $50 a night or a lot more if you’re looking at cocktails or beverages at the more expensive end of town. Two ‘big nights’ per week plus a regrettable late night kebab add up to $114 per week, $5928 a year, with liver damage and a few mighty hangovers thrown in for free. Cut back on two ‘big nights outs’ per week and you’re looking at a lot more cash to splash.

4. Exercise more (save $2,724)

Do more exercise. But rushing out to spend hundreds on a gym membership that’s likely to be abandoned by Valentine’s Day isn’t the only option to get your blood pumping. Find a few like-minded friends and revamp your regular social engagements for something that leaves everyone feeling good. Upgrade a lazy Sunday brunch with friends ($30) to a Sunday morning walk (or swim) and coffee ($3.50) and give that unused gym membership ($1346) this nifty social switcheroo will save you $2,724 per year.

5. Get out of credit card debt (save $740)

According to ASIC, Australians owe nearly $36 billion in credit card debt, which works out to roughly $4700 per cardholder. If you’re serious about getting out of debt in 2014, it’s time to stop paying interest, ignore minimum repayments (that can keep you in debt forever!) and run your own race to financial freedom.

A smart way to cut the cost of your interest is to transfer your outstanding debt to a 0% balance transfer card (with at least a 12 month interest free period.) Once a $60 card fee is accounted for, you’ll be looking at an average savings of $740 in interest.

Then if you can put aside $90 per week and get your balance down to zero in 12 months you’ll be debt free in 2014! If it’s going to take a bit longer don’t be dismayed, just make sure you switch again to a new balance transfer card to avoid paying any interest when the honeymoon rate runs out.

6. De-clutter your life (save $1500)

Australians received an estimated $1 billion dollars in unwanted gifts this Christmas. Is your garage cluttered with unused gym equipment and slightly out of date tech gadgets? Wardrobe bursting with lightly worn items you never wear? Still lugging around multiple toasters from your first house-warming?

Turn those unwanted items into instant cash and free up your living space – all it takes is your smartphone camera and a few minutes posting your items to eBay or Gumtree. Clear out 50 items, at a very modest $30 a pop and there’s $1500 cash in your pocket! (We’ll bet you can make a lot more than that).

Total Potential New Years Resolution Savings: $19,290

Kirsty Lamont is a director of, which helps Australians compare savings accounts, credit cards, insurance and other financial products. Kirsty was one of the launch team for Virgin Money when it started in Australia in 2003, and also held a senior role at BankWest before joining Mozo in 2007.