Inflation is the single biggest concern among economists. It will drive up prices and living costs, sparking interest rate rises.

Australians are believed to have made big strides during COVID, salting away as much as $250 billion dollars because they couldn’t spend on travel and eating out.

But that isn’t everyone. And those who bought housing at the top of the market last year are going to feel the pinch midyear when interest rates will rise.

Last year, a ME Bank survey said one in four households have less than $1000 in savings –  and one in 10 are spending all they earn each month.

The number of families who typically spend more than their monthly income increased by 3 per cent to 11 per cent in the six months to June, the survey found.

Another 41 per cent spent their entire income to meet daily expenses.

More than 54 per cent said they have cash savings of less than $10,000 – down from 62 per cent in 2015.

“If we see big negative shocks in the coming year, whether they are higher loan rates or an international trade war, then a lot of families will suffer increased financial stress,’’ said Jeff Oughton, ME Bank’s consulting economist who commissioned the survey.

So what can you do?

Here’s the ME bank’s recommended savings tips:

1 – Choose your goal
You may be saving for a car, planning an overseas trip, or even thinking about saving for a first home.  Whatever the case, set a goal that inspires you. If it doesn’t, chances are you won’t stick with a savings plan.

2 – Set a timeframe
Set a deadline to achieve your savings goal. This gives you a target to work towards and lets you work out how much you need to save on a regular basis. If, for example, you give yourself six months to save $3,000 for a trip overseas, you’ll need to tuck away around $125 each week to meet your goal.

3 – Keep your savings separate
Nothing makes your goal seem more real than opening a savings account dedicated to your big ticket purchase. The interest you earn will help grow your savings, and by keeping your savings separate from daily finances you won’t be tempted to dip into your nest egg. Look for a savings account paying a healthy ongoing rate of interest. Accounts that have strings attached can make it hard to earn a consistently high rate.

4 – Make it automatic
Don’t plan to save whatever is left over after you’ve paid regular expenses. Aim to give your savings top priority, and make it easy by setting up an electronic transfer from your everyday account into your savings account.

5 – Share your goal
Let family and friends know you’re saving for a particular goal. They can help you stay motivated, and may even chip in with a gift of cash on special occasions like birthdays, to help take you a step closer to making your dream buy a reality.

Stick with a savings plan to discover how easy it can be to buy a big ticket purchase with cash, and avoid an ongoing debt and expensive interest charges.

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