You might not have been too concerned about building up a stash of savings before the coronavirus pandemic, but if there’s one thing that the virus has shown us, it’s that having a buffer of savings can be of great comfort and use. As we adapt to life with (and hopefully beyond) covid-19, lots of Aussies are looking for ways to reduce their outgoings, as well as ways to make the money they save work harder for them. It’s the little things that make all the difference You may have found that not commuting and going out for meals and drinks during lockdown left you with more money in your account at the end of the month. It may have been the case that you lost some or all of your work hours during lockdown, or saw this happen to your friends and as a result you want to build up a few months’ worth of expenses so you feel more secure. Whatever your reasons for starting a savings campaign, you’ll find greater success by making changes to your lifestyle that you don’t have to think about once they’re “set”. It’s not so much a case of going without luxuries as it is a case of reducing the expenses you can’t escape from, such as your home loan, your utilities and your credit card bills. If you can reduce these expenses, you can save and still afford to treat yourself occasionally. Here’s the best ways to cut your spending and make the saved money work for you. Look at a debt consolidation loan A debt consolidation loan is a loan that you can take out to pay off at least two other debts. You can pay off credit card balances, overdrafts, utility bills and store card balances with a single loan, which you then pay off. The benefit of such a loan is that you could bring debts with higher interest rates, such as credit card balances, under the umbrella of a loan with a significantly lower rate. This will save you money on interest and also on fees, if some of your debts involve monthly management costs. It also means you have just one payment to remember and prepare for each month. Compare unsecured personal loans for debt consolidation InfoChoice displays a large range of low rate loans between $2,000 and $35,000. Switch to a balance transfer credit card A balance transfer credit card is one which you can move an existing balance to in order to make use of a zero per cent introductory period. This period allows you to make big reductions on the balance, as no money is being diverted into the interest portion. You can potentially spend less each month on your payments and still reduce your balance or even pay it off entirely before the introductory period ends. Cards like the Citi Rewards Credit Card have a zero interest period of 26 months, which is plenty of time to pay your balance down. Refinance your home loan If your existing fixed rate mortgage deal is coming to an end, or there’s an attractive enough rate to tempt you away from your variable rate product, then a refinance could save you thousands of dollars each year. There are some low interest rates out there for home loans right now, with some products offering less than 2.50 per cent p.a. so it’s the ideal time to make the move. You will, however, have to tread carefully and make sure that the savings you’ll make will outweigh any early termination and set–up fees that you might incur. It can be expensive to leave a fixed deal early and even if you wait until it ends you can still be stung by application and set–up fees for the new product. Variable rate deals don’t have break fees, but you might still face high set–up fees, so take your time before signing anything. Review and switch your utilities It’s a competitive market out there and if you’ve been with the same electricity provider for a while, you might have missed out on some cheaper deals. The same applies to other utilities such as your broadband, your gas and even your home and car insurance. Spending some time on a comparison site can really pay off if you manage to reduce each of your bills by a few dollars each month. It also helps to simply call your utility providers and let them know that you’re looking around for cheaper alternatives as they might agree to lower your tariff, or offer you a discount. If you can namecheck a cheaper deal or two during the phone call, you’ll look like you mean business! Make your new savings work harder for you Hopefully, you’ll have found at least one way to reduce your monthly outgoings by now and so the next step to saving money is to find the right vehicle to make the money grow faster. There’s not much point leaving the extra money you have left over at the end of each month to just hang around in your transaction account. It needs to go somewhere where it’ll earn a decent amount of interest. There are some high interest savings accounts that can offer you rates of more than two per cent p.a. or you can open a term deposit for a steady, long–term investment. If you want something halfway between an at–call saver account and a term deposit (which locks away your money until maturity), then a notice saver could work well.