Realistic saving tips for 20-somethings

How many times in your 20’s did you find yourself on your last $50 scraping the barrel till payday? Looking back, you probably spent a lot on things you didn’t really need, like monthly bedroom design updates.

These habits are simply unsustainable. Now that you’re getting older, wiser and more responsible it’s time you built in some good savings habits. Read on for some real tips that take into account the fact you still want to have fun on the weekends.

Treat yourself in moderation

If you’ve watched much Parks and Recreation then you’re familiar with the term treat yo’self. But the mistake most young adults are making is they treat themselves as soon as they get paid when really you should be waiting just a little bit longer.

Instead of splurging straight away and finding you can’t afford to pay both your bills and for drinks with friends on a Friday night, play it smart. Here’s how it works:

  • As soon as you’re paid put half into your savings (even if it hurts).
  • Budget out the things you know you’ll be spending on e.g. bills, birthday presents, dinner with friends.
  • What you have left is your play money, but don’t spend it yet.
  • Keep a wish list of items you want but don’t really need yet (like those Egyptian cotton sheets).
  • When you are within a few days of being paid again revisit your list and see how much you can afford, but also how much you still want.

You’ll be surprised how many things you changed your mind about. But more than that you’ll be glad when you have some savings to handle life’s emergencies.

Have multiple savings accounts

Most banks offer multiple types of savings accounts with varied interest rates and guidelines for use.

You should have at least 2 savings accounts; one you can access anytime so you’re never really broke and one with a rewards incentive where the less you touch the more you save.

Personalise the account names so you are always reminded what that money is really for, such as big holiday plans or finally moving out of home.

Talk to your bank every few months and find out if your accounts are still the best choices for your needs. They run bonus interest rates and other offers that you won’t find out about simply by checking the website.

Shop for more than clothing online

money saving tips
Photo: Jorgophotography, Bigstock

You’re probably already be a pro at finding affordable fashion online so take those skills and use them. The most recent census data shows that more and more young Australian’s are living at home so they can save money.

Fitting out your own place doesn’t need to cost a lot if you shop smart. Look for big ticket items online like a stylish couch or living room set that gives your place a more mature look.

Quit the pay-passing

Everybody loves the convenience of pay-pass until they check their balance the next day and find an account missing some zeros. And then you start re-enacting Confessions of a Shopaholic and asking who stole your cards?

We bet you wouldn’t take out $100 at the start of the week to spend on food and incidentals but somehow in small bites it’s been pay-passed away. Give up the tap and go for just one week and see if you feel differently about that $10 salad for lunch.

Check-in on your super

Retirement is surely a while off but if you’re going to rely on super when you get there then now is the time to start adding to it. A general rule of thumb goes: the percentage of your earnings to save in super is half of your age from when you start saving.

So, someone in their 20-30’s should be saving 10-15% in super. This percentage includes employer contributions which means you’ll only need to scrape together another 1-5% each year if you start saving early on.

Sign up for store discounts

The endless emails suck, let’s get that out there. But they keep you up to date on sales, offer freebies or vouchers and other member benefits.

Often you can tailor what kinds of promotional contact you receive and how often, we’re just too lazy to check the settings. And if you’re still not reaping the rewards then you can always cancel the membership.

Keep up to date on free events

There’s plenty happening across Australia that is free for you to attend. All it takes is a little time to research. Check out an events site for your city (most include a free category) and find out what’s happening near you.

You may only resonate with one of the savings tips listed here but even if you manage to make a single new habit you’ll find yourself better off.

Julia Hammond
Julia Hammond
Julia Hammond is a Melbourne-based freelance writer who has worked with major brands and blogs from The Urban List to You can find her online at
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