Buying guide

Simple hacks to fast-track your savings

Time to get serious about saving? Here are some simple steps to get you started.

Last updated: 4 August 2023

Before you bake a fancy cake or start preparing a two course dinner, you’ll clear the kitchen bench tops so you can assemble your meal or sweet treat without any holdups. And when you start saving for your house deposit, it’s the same thing. You want to clear any unnecessary debt and concentrate on the main task – sending your earnings straight into that house savings fund.

Four simple ways to save:

  • Undertake a financial declutter
  • Clear any unnecessary debt
  • Act as if you’re already paying a mortgage
  • Increase your income

1. Start with a financial declutter

How can you clear the decks financially to begin an intensive saving period?

Start by running through your bank statements with a fine-tooth comb. The last 3 months are generally a good indicator of your spending.

Ask yourself: “What can I go without?”

Consider things like:

  • Streaming subscriptions
  • Gym memberships
  • Taxis or car ride services
  • City car parking
  • Takeaways

Keep in mind: the less you spend, the more you can borrow, says Mortgage Lab adviser, Christiana Pollock.

Review your insurance outgoings

Insurance is a key area to review, says East Auckland Loan Market mortgage adviser, Paulette Trotter. People have insurance on a number of things, but is it still meeting your needs or could you live without it? If you do need it, then could you have a higher excess with the insurer to reduce the payments, she suggests.

Spend time reviewing your spending, it could pay off in the long run.

2. Clear unnecessary debt

One of the first things you’ll be advised to do is pay off debt and any buy now, pay later purchases you have. And while you’re doing this, says’s Personal Finance Lead, Tom Hartmann, it’s a great idea to bring the limit down on your credit card. You may only have a few purchases on the card at any one time, but if your credit limit is $10,000, that’s what the bank is going to assume you’re planning to use when doing calculations on your borrowing ability, says Tom.

With a reduced credit limit you’re not carrying more or less than you need, says Tom.

Top tip:

The First Home Buyers’ Club director, Lesley Harris, says of the club’s first home buyer base, their average debt is typically $8000, which doesn’t count their student debt. If you have this kind of debt that will reduce the amount you can borrow by $70,000 to $75,000, she warns, so it’s definitely in your interest to clear any extra borrowing you have.

Your debt may include car finance but maybe it’s time to sacrifice what kind of car you have, so you don’t have debt on it. Or if you’re a household with two cars, cut back to one.

3. Act like you’re already paying a mortgage

If saving doesn’t come naturally to you, and that UberEats addiction is hard to stop, Paulette suggests living as if you’re already paying a mortgage. Say, your mortgage repayments will be $1000 a week once you own a home and you’re paying rent of $600 a week, act as if you’re already paying $1000 a week and sock that $400 away into savings.

4. Increase your income

Of course over the years of saving your deposit, you’ll hopefully increase your earning power. If you’re able to take that higher salary, but live the same way as you were before, directing the extra money into your house fund, you have a real opportunity, says Tom.

Asking for a pay rise is something you can be doing during the years of saving. It helps both with increasing your deposit and borrowing on a higher income, says Christiana.

Starting a side hustle is a great way to fast-track your savings.

Consider a side hustle

If you’ve got time up your sleeve, a side hustle could help bolster your savings. Think about your skill set and whether they could be earning you some extra cash.

Could you:

  • Become an Uber driver?
  • Deliver groceries or food?
  • Build a deck for the neighbours?
  • Run the social media for a small business?
  • Dog walk or pet sit?
  • Mow lawns in the neighbourhood?

In short, it’s time to cut back on your spending and look for ways to increase your income. Small steps in the short term can have a large impact on your savings and borrowing abilities. You’ve got this!


Karina Reardon
Karina Reardon

Head of Strategic Partnerships -

Karina has worked in the mortgage sector for the last two decades, and is considered an industry expert. As a content author she has a database of financial advisers who share her weekly commentary through their social and digital channels. A well-respected and popular member of the industry, Karina was recently recognised as one of the ‘Elite women in mortgages 2023’.