Wuh-oh! Expensive Christmas? Here's how to triage your budget for January 2023

Girl thinking about her budget

After the combined tidal wave of Black Friday and holiday shopping, many Aussie bank balances may be cringe-inducing. And the cost of living this year looks like it won’t be much better. 

So, whether you’re recovering from a spending spree, embracing a New Years’ resolution, or just want a bit of cushion, here’s how to revamp your emergency budget for January 2023.

Download a budgeting app ASAP

Girl downloading a budgeting app from the cloud

Firstly, to know how to revamp your budget, you need to know where you’re leaking money. But if creating a spreadsheet fills you with existential horror, let an AI do the work for you with a smart budgeting app

Link it up to your bank account (don’t worry, they take privacy seriously) and let the bots trawl through all your data. Once the app creates a report, you can see where your expenses are going, how much they’re eating into your paycheck, and what you can do about them. 

Remember, budgets aren’t there to hinder your spending and make you poor – it’s the other way around. They empower you to spend wisely and buffer your finances.

Cut back on grocery shopping and dining out

Woman cringes at foods she can't afford, collage

Grocery prices have been eye-watering lately, so it’s essential to lean into the summer season and shop smarter down the aisle. Buy locally and seasonally where you can: now’s the time to be a bit adventurous with the cheaper produce on sale. Learn a new recipe or two!

Meal-prep and take food to work so you’re not tempted to buy from a cafe. Ask your mates if you can do a potluck picnic instead of brunch (which can add a little sunny magic to your weekend hangouts). 

Subscribing to a meal-kit service can reduce the amount of planning and shopping you have to do and control your weekly spending. You can even order cheap, fresh fruit and vegetables through services like Farmers Pick.

Rethink your streaming services

Collage of hands holding smartphones

Keeping up with the endless stream of content can be exhausting – and expensive. So if you’ve subscribed to everything under the sun, decide which services you use the most and cut the rest loose for now. Most providers will let you pick up where you left off if you change your mind later. 

Need help determining which streaming sites to pick? Here’s what’s new on each of the major platforms.

HOT TIP: Your local library will usually let you borrow or stream some movies for free through Kanopy, and ABC iView is free for everyone with an account.

Compare energy providers

Hand holding a sparkler, collage

Summer can be hellish for your energy bills, especially if you’re running the aircon to cope. 

Power down the price surges by switching off non-essentials during the day. Invest in automatic timers to switch off non-essential devices while you’re away at work (or at night when you’re asleep). Stopping little bits of ghosted power can add to savings in the long run.

Next, triage how you cool down your place. Fans use less electricity than an aircon, and opening your windows for the evening breeze is free. Avoid turning on the oven (that’ll make your home even hotter), and opt for chilled, fridge-based fresh meals instead. Crisp, cold tomato and ham sandwich, anyone?

Lastly, compare energy providers to ensure you get the best deal for your area.

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Revamp your savings account

Hand deposits a speech bubble into a piggy bank, collage

All the extra cash won’t do you any good if it’s parked in the wrong place. Have a look at your savings account and make sure you’re meeting any terms and conditions to get the top bonus rate. If you’re unhappy with it, compare savings accounts to see if switching could nab you a better deal. 

Alternatively, you can remove the temptation to spend leftover cash by locking it away in a short-lived term deposit. Many 6 to 12-month interest rates have sharpened thanks to the RBA rate rises, so at least savers can take advantage of what’s happening in Australia’s monetary policy.

Take a look at your home loan

Collage of people working from home in their houses

Lastly, if you have a home loan, you’re likely reeling from all the rate rises in 2023 (totalling 3.00% worth of hikes from the RBA alone). 

The big banks predict we’ll likely see another 0.50% - 0.75% worth of hikes by May 2023, so there’s still a way left to go. 

If you have an offset account, funnel as much of your savings into it as possible to cut down on the amount of payable interest on your mortgage. Consider making extra repayments if you can, too, since this also saves on your interest repayments later. Now’s also a good time to call your lender and see if you can negotiate a better rate. 

Still not happy? Consider refinancing your mortgage in 2023: a little headache now could save you a lot of heartache later.

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Last updated 25 July 2024 Important disclosures
  • Savings Account

    5.35% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    4.75% p.a.(for $0 to $1,000,000)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Bonus variable rate is available for the first 4 months.

    Competitive introductory variable rate for first 4 months (on deposits up to $250,000). No account keeping fees to pay. Multiple 2024 Mozo Experts Choice Award winner.

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    Savings Maximiser

    5.50% p.a. (for $0 to $100,000)

    0.55% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    For customers who have an Orange Everyday account, deposit $1000 into a personal ING account, make 5 eligible transactions and grow their nominated Savings Maximiser account each month.

    Great variable rate every month when you grow your balance each month in addition to other eligibility criteria. No ING fees to pay. Save even more with ING Everyday Round Up. Mozo Experts Choice Awards Everyday & Savings Bank of the Year winner for 2024.^

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  • Reward Saver Account

    5.25% p.a. (for $0 to $1,000,000)

    0% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Intro bonus rate of 5.25% for balances up to $1,000,000 for the first 4 months, reverting to 3.25%. Minimum deposit of $50 and no withdrawals.

    Introductory bonus rate for balances up to $1,000,000 for the first 4 months. Minimum deposit of $50 and no withdrawals. Start your account online in under 10 minutes and earn interest on balances up to $1,000,000 (T&Cs apply). No monthly account fees, helping you save smarter and faster.

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  • Bonus Saver Account

    5.00% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    0.05% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Bonus rate when at least $20 is deposited each month and five Visa Debit transactions are made each month using linked Glide transaction account.

    Start saving and earn interest with just a $20 deposit and make 5 eligible transactions each month. No fees or penalties for withdrawing money.

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  • Savings+Bonus

    5.00% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    2.00% p.a.(for $0 to $250,000)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Minimum $100 monthly deposit and no withdrawals to earn bonus interest each month.

    Earn a generous interest rate on your at-call savings (T&Cs apply). Interest is calculated daily and paid to you monthly. A $5 monthly membership fee will not apply if your total account balances with First Option Bank exceed $1,000 or you have a credit card or loan with the bank.

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