Sometimes knowing the right questions to ask is all you need to do to improve things in your life.
Financial educator Vanessa Stoykov says that after 24 years of working in financial services, exposed to some of the best professional investors from around the world, she has found five simple questions that can help you save for a better future.
Find the best deal
Find out what fees you are paying for your health insurance, utilities, and super fund. Vanessa found she was still paying over $100 per month ($1200 per year) for maternity cover on her health care, because no one ever asked if she still needed it.
Ask your utility company if it is cheaper for them to contract you, if direct debit can get you a discount, or if there are any other promotions or plans they have. If you don't ask, you might never know.
Invest in yourself
Usually we pay whatever we need to, and live on whatever is left. This is ineffective because we are putting ourselves last. Some people have a rule of putting away 10% of their earnings before paying anything else. Open a special savings account that’s hard to touch, and arrange to have your share deducted on pay day. You won’t even notice it's gone, but you have a tidy nest egg building up.
Question your needs
When you're shopping, ask yourself if you really need an item, especially if you intend to put it on your credit card. Putting things on credit just increases the burden on you to keep working just to pay it back. Think about how to make what you have last longer, or go further, and cut back on your day to day spending.
Cheaper buying options
Too often we pay up for items because we really do need them now, but a bit of planning and research can save your thousands. Check Google and online selling sites, and cheap bulk discount places like Aldi or Costco. Thinking ahead and shopping around can save you a lot. For example, some things you always need, like detergent and toilet paper. They never go off, so buying in large bulk quantities can bring down your shopping bill.
What you really want
If you don’t have a goal, then it's a lot harder to find motivation. Your goal might be travel, or a house. Spend some time thinking about what you really want in your life, looking ahead to next year, or 5 years and 10 years, not next week. Then you can start making decisions about ways to lower your overheads, and live more cheaply, so you can save more. This is the sort of thinking you can do in spare moments when there is nothing else you can do.
For tips and tools to help you get ahead financially, see Vanessa's website, VanessaStoykov.com.