Financial life hacks


I recently asked my blog subscribers to share their financial life hacks. This includes any ideas, strategies, products, business or apps that you use to help you save money, organise your financial arrangement or just make life easier.

I have provided an edited list below (removed repeat entries and any investment advice). I would like to continue to add to this list so if you have any ideas that do not appear on this list, please share them here.

Warning: These ideas have been kindly shared by subscribers. ProSolution does not warrant that the information is correct and as such, you are advised to do your own due-diligence checks prior to acting on the below information.

Cash flow management hacks

1. Saving

At the end of each day, withdraw any $5 notes from your wallet/purse and put them in a safe place. This is a painless way of saving a considerable amount of money (also, works well with coins too).

(Thanks to Sandy for this idea)

2. Download spending into a spreadsheet

Most banks allow you to download all your spending (from transaction and credit card accounts) into a spreadsheet to allow you to sort expenditure into categories. This helps you track where your money is going. In fact, I have mentioned this in Investopoly and recorded this video to show you how to do this.

(Thanks to Martin for this idea)

3. Cash flow management app

There are mobile and tablet applications that allow you to do the same exercise described in item # 2 above but streamlines it with automatic bank feeds i.e. no need for a spreadsheet or any manual calculations. Recommended apps include Pocketbook and Moneytree, Xero and TrackMySPEND (this one is free because its owned by the Australian Government).

(Thanks to Gavin, Michael, James, Lesa, Peter, Julie & Jodie for this idea)

4. Extra time to lodge BAS

Apparently, you have an extra month to lodge and pay your BAS if you use Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) Electronic Commerce Interface (excluding the December quarter).

I recently learnt that you have an automatic 14 day extension (excluding December quarter) if you use the ATO’s Business Portal.

(Thanks to Yolo for this idea)

5. Strategies to saving on general insurance, utilities, etc.

Every year when my insurance policies are renewed – hospital, extras, car, home contents and building – I get an online quote from the same provider as if I am a new client. I use my existing policy to ensure that the quote will be identical in all aspects, including the start date/any excess etc. The new client quote is ALWAYS cheaper, sometimes by only a few dollars, sometimes by a couple of hundred dollars for this ‘apples with apples’ comparison.

Armed with my ‘new client quote’ above I then mine the database and recommendations of the Consumers Association (Choice) to compare this quote with other market offerings, recognising that the terms and conditions of the cover offered will not be identical i.e. apples with pears comparison. This process saves me falling victim to the widespread practise of insurance providers penalising loyalty and relying on inertia: it saves me several hundred dollars annually.

Every couple of years I compare utility providers. For electricity and gas the Victorian government comparison tool is excellent (click here). [There is also a federal Government website here] This also saves at least a couple of hundred dollars each year.

In March 2018 my ‘Extras’ provider (rated as one of the best by Choice so I didn’t want to change provider) increased premiums by 35% but they allowed me to prepay for 24 months at the ‘old’ price which saved $900.

(Thanks to Caroline for this idea)

6. Information empowers savings

I subscribe to Choice Magazine, (electronic version) for $83.95 per year or $23.95 per quarter and am certain that the subscription pays for itself many times over with the savings I am able to make as a consequence of the product and service recommendations. I recently used my Choice online subscription to access their independent and personally individualised Health Insurance algorithms to assess and upgrade my health insurance benefits and provide me with an annual saving of over $900 per year.

(Thanks to Caroline & Janet for this idea)

7. Maximising frequent flyer points

Use an Amex card to maximise points and always fly with the same airline. Not all vendors allow Amex so if they don’t, I use PayPal (link Amex card to PayPal) or Post Bill Pay (most of the time) allows payment by PayPal.

I use Family Pooling with Virgin to accumulate status and points from all my family members, which get to a decent status faster (and then when I fly with my family they are eligible for the same benefits as me). Qantas doesn’t provide family pooling.

Around once a year I will “buy” a credit card purely for the bonus points on offer. For a once-off annual fee of $300, for example, I might get 100k Velocity points from this. I will use the card long enough to get the points, then go back to using my regular high points-earn card. I am careful not to do this too frequently as I’ve read (though I have no proof) that this can impact negatively on a credit check.

I prefer to pay for flights and “upgrade” using points, rather than buy flights on points alone. Upgrade rates are much cheaper than buying the whole flight, and if I pay for part of the flight I still accumulate points and status for the flight, whereas if I buy a flight solely with points I get nothing out of it. This is an “earn and burn” strategy.

(Thanks to Christian for this idea)

8. Save future increases in income

I make it a goal that whenever we get a pay rise, or our income goes up, a portion of it is automatically pushed aside by making an increase to the monthly savings. Therefore, the money becomes “spoken for” and doesn’t just start burning a hole in our pocket.

(Thanks to Christian for this idea)

9. Not trying to work it all out yourself

Where required, I pay for advice instead of trying to save by doing it myself. I keep friendships and professional relationships separate.

(Thanks to Barry for this idea)

10. Save on business class or premium flights

Use a business called Business Class Club to book flights. It buys up companies unused frequent flyer points and on-sells those points to others. It is much cheaper.

(Thanks to Jenni for this idea)

11. Smooth out expenses

I pay for bills monthly including utilities, council rates, etc. I calculate an appropriate weekly amount for my power and water and have a simple recurring BPAY transfer every week and the nice thing is that my power bill is usually in credit each quarter, at least over summer which then covers the higher winter bills.

(Thanks to Andrew for this idea)

12. Help kids save

My kids use Acorns App for small change savings and seem to love it.

(Thanks to Paula for this idea)

13. Don’t pay late

I keep an Outlook calendar into which I put every invoice due date as it is received. That way I can see at a glance what is due in the coming month to manage account balances and ensure I don’t miss a due date.

(Thanks to Scott for this idea)

Credit cards

14  Pay everything on card

Many people mentioned that they pay as many expenses on credit card as possible to accumulate frequent flyer points and keep their cash savings in the offset account for as long as possible.

(Thanks to Darren, Desmond, Madan and David for this idea)

15. No reward for loyalty so play the game

I pay my bills manually using a credit card which I keep for no more than about 10 months and then cancel it before the renewal fee is due and apply for another that gives about 100,000 frequent flyer points. I’ve noticed that credit card companies only reward new customers, and there is no reward for the longstanding loyal ones. So, in addition to getting the points for paying the bills I also get the points for new customers and accumulated over a million Qantas frequent flyer points in the last few years.

I also have found that it is not the best use of points to use them for free flights, rather you get a whole lot more value by using it for upgrades to business class from a paid economy ticket, and also for expensive alcohol that is discounted by 50% or more which happens about once a year.

(Thanks to Michael for this idea)

16. Frequent flyer points and credit card research

I find great travel upgrade and credit-card frequent-flyer tips on ‘The High Life Travel’ Facebook page [you can subscribe to their newsletter here]. There is a wealth of information to be found on various frequent flyer program offers, and neat information regarding the pros and cons of various airline code-share programs.

(Thanks to Janet for this idea)

Please share…

I would like to continue to add to this list so if you have any ideas that do not appear on this list, please she them here.