The Best Shopping Apps to Save You Money in 2020

Now more than ever, it’s so important to save money where we can. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best shopping apps to save money in Australia around Christmas.

 

Shopback

Want to get paid each time you shop? Well, with Shopback you can. Shopback’s 5 million+ members accumulate cash each time they buy something from merchants like Amazon, Catch.com.au, Booking.com, Uber Eats, ASOS and more.

Simply search on Shopback for your store, purchase an item, and receive an order confirmation to get cash deposited directly into your bank or PayPal account. Shopback gets paid a commission when you buy from their partners and a portion of that cash is passed onto you.

 

Honey

What started off as a browser extension that applies discount codes to your cart is now a shopping app to save you money! The Honey app showcases millions of your favourite products, complete with current discount codes so you can find the best deals. All you need to do is copy and paste the discount code to your cart and check out from one convenient location on your phone (even if you’ve shopped from multiple stores).

 

Stocard

It’s difficult to find a retailer without a loyalty program for their customers these days. But remembering to accumulate points or finding the loyalty card when you go to pay can be tricky. Stocard solves these problems. The app stores all your loyalty cards digitally, so you’ll never miss out on savings again. You can also set-up mobile payments in Stocard which let you tap and pay with your phone via the Mastercard® network.

 

Groupon

Since 2011, over 3.65 million people in Australia and New Zealand have used Groupon to claim massive deals from businesses across categories like food, entertainment, technology, sports, beauty, and more. Download the app to access a vast array of exclusive deals and coupons from thousands of retailers.

 

Catch

Want access to countless deals from household brand names in fashion, lifestyle, pet care and tech? Australian online marketplace, Catch.com.au, will bring them to you! You can also sign up to receive push notifications straight to your phone, meaning you’ll be the first to know about new deals.

 

Gumtree

One of the oldest players in the online marketplace game is Gumtree. Here, you’ll have access to millions of listings from local and interstate sellers and service providers, making it one of the best shopping apps to save you money while directly supporting your local community.

 

Kogan

Kogan is an award winning retailer dedicated to making high-demand products and services more affordable and accessible. Their app does a fantastic job of keeping users up to date on recent price drops and new products across electronics, appliances, hardware and homeware categories. Join their Kogan First program and you’ll even receive free express shipping.

 

UNiDAYS

Uni students, this is for you. UNiDAYS gives higher education students free access to discounted deals from fashion, technology, lifestyle, food, wellness and beauty brands. It’s not just a shopping app to save money; UNiDAYS curates a personal feed for each student, so they can access the very best content from brands all over.

 

Prino Pro

Think of Prino Pro like your very own bargain hunter. The app lets you create a list of your favourite products to buy at the best possible prices. Receive notifications when prices drop and access coupons from retailers like Chemist Warehouse, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Bunnings and more.

 

Etsy

Want to save money, support independent sellers and find vintage treasures? You can do it all with Etsy. Renowned as the global marketplace for handmade, unique and creative goods, use their app to save money shopping and speak directly with Etsy sellers to receive tracking updates and the scoop on new products.

No matter which of these apps you choose, you’re sure to see your savings grow as we close out this year. Happy shopping!

Tips for Eating Out on a Budget

There’s no greater pleasure in life than getting together with friends and family for delicious food and drinks at your favourite restaurant. We’d all like to do this more often, but it can be costly. The good news is, there are ways we can keep dining out without breaking the bank.

Check out these tips for eating out on a budget so you don’t have to sacrifice your love of great food and drinks!

 

Time Savings

Happy hour, cheap Tuesday and other weekly meal deals provide the perfect excuse to go out for drinks and food. You’ll be spending less, but still treating yourself. To find the best weekly deals or Happy hour specials in your area, do a quick search online. Apps like The Happiest Hour can help with this, so the only thing left to do is invite your friends and drink up.

 

Online Specials

Dining out on a budget has never been easier as long as you’ve got an internet connection. A simple Google search for online restaurant specials and coupons will provide you with a huge range of websites bringing the best online specials straight to you.

Some of our favourites include Scoopon, Groupon and Eat Club – a world-first app that works with restaurants to promote last-minute specials in your local area when they’ve got empty tables.

 

Be Open to New Places

The convenience and reliability of dining at your favourite local haunts is always tempting. However, eating at your usual dining hot spots can sometimes mean you’ll be paying a premium for your meals. Why not try somewhere new? With a little adventure, you could find yourself chowing down on the most flavour-packed Saag Paneer you’ve ever tasted (and at a fraction of the cost of your usual Indian restaurant).

 

BYO

Love to wine and dine? Instead of paying for mark-ups on drinks, look for BYO venues to reduce costs without sacrificing a delicious pairing of French red wine with your Buoef Bourguignon.

Typically, the cost of wine can be marked up anywhere from 120% to a whopping 250% at a restaurant, so there’s no doubt you’ll save some serious cash the next time you BYO.

 

Ditch the Soft Drink

Trading your soft drink for water is another great way to save money while eating out on a budget. A glass of Coca-Cola can end up costing you another $5.00 on top of your meal, so swap this for water and you’ll find that after 3 or so meals, you will have saved enough money to treat yourself to another restaurant meal.

 

Do Breakfast or Lunch Instead of Dinner

Research indicates that restaurants face more intense competition for night diners, which means they’ll often have similar dishes available for lunch at a cheaper price the next day. This also applies to breakfast too, so instead of going out for dinner, do breakfast or lunch instead to save money.

 

Skip Dessert

If you have a sweet tooth, you may think it’s preposterous to skip dessert entirely. But hold that thought! Trade your $15 single-serve of tiramisu for a $5 takeaway ice cream instead so you can satisfy your cravings for a fraction of the cost.

 

Get Rewarded to Dine In

It really is possible to get rewarded for dining in. How? Apply for a credit or debit card that’s paired with a rewards account to put cash straight back in your pocket. For example, the American Express Platinum Edge credit card will give you 1 point per dollar spent, which is about 0.5% cashback on your restaurant bill.

As you can see, there are plenty of strategies out there to help you eat out on a budget, because life should always be full of good food, good wine and good times.

 

Everything You Need to Know about Buy Now Pay Later

Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) purchases are on the rise in Australia. The Inside Australian Online Shopping report by Australia Post reveals that 6.7% of online payments are now made via BNPL platforms (such as Afterpay, which recorded $2.3B of purchases in the latter half of 2018). While PayPal is still the dominant method of payment for online shopping, accounting for almost half (48.8%) of all e-commerce purchases, BNPL is gaining ground on debit cards (15.5%) and credit cards (24.4%).

As an increasingly popular payment method among Australians, it’s no surprise more people are using BNPL platforms on the daily. If you’re thinking about giving it a try, make sure you’re fully aware of how these schemes work before signing up.

Here’s a snapshot of everything you need to know about Buy Now Pay Later.

 

How do BNPL services work?

BNPL services provide a method of paying for items you want or need but can’t afford right now. You simply pay for them over time via a payment schedule. Afterpay spaces out payments over a 4-week period, while ZipPay gives you the freedom to choose your repayment schedule – weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

Unlike credit card payments, you don’t pay interest on these purchases. And unlike Laybuy, you get the item immediately instead of when it’s fully paid off. BNPL platforms make their money from the merchant, which is why you’re rarely charged anything extra for using these services.

This is all sounding pretty good, right? But what’s involved with singing up for a BNPL service?

 

Using a BNPL Service

Signing up for BNPL is easier than applying for a credit card, which is part of the appeal. Simply make a purchase with a partner retailer and choose the BNPL provider as your payment method. Once the order is approved, your account will be automatically created. You may need to provide proof that you live in Australia, ID and your bank card details.

Potential Late Fees

As with all repayment schedules, it’s imperative to pay on time to avoid late fees when using a BNPL service. Afterpay can charge up to $10 in late fees for orders under $40. This increases for orders over $40 – so you could find yourself with fees totalling up to 25% of your order. ZipPay has a $5 late fee and if your payment is rejected by your bank, you’ll receive a $15.00 dishonour fee.

Purchase Limits

If you’ve linked a debit card to your Afterpay account, you can’t have more than $500 outstanding, or your next purchase will be denied. With a credit card, you’ll receive a cap of $1,500. Similarly, ZipPay accounts are capped at $1,000 (it’s possible to increase your credit limit to $3,000 if you meet certain criteria).

Impact on Loan Applications

Used responsibly, BNPL services have a neutral impact on your credit rating. However, most BNPL companies reserve the right to report issues (like missed repayments) to credit bureaus. It’s important to remember this to ensure you can apply for loans successfully in the future.

 

Helpful Tips

We all know online shopping can be a little addictive, so it’s necessary to manage our spending. Before adding to cart, work out how much disposable income you have available each month to spend. Being aware of this amount will help you budget any potential repayments from BNPL services – whether they’re weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

There are lots of benefits associated with increasingly popular BNPL services. However, they aren’t risk free and can accumulate into multiple repayments beyond your financial means. But if you see yourself as an organised person and not prone to overspending, BNPL may be for you! For everyone else, you’re probably better off paying upfront.

Check out more money tips on the Cigno blog.

How to Save Money Fast on a Low Income

When you’re living day-to-day on a modest income, it can feel impossible to make significant progress with your savings account. This can become frustrating if you’ve got financial goals like buying a car or putting down a house deposit, but there are ways to increase your savings quickly while you’re not earning a lot.

The key to fast-tracking your savings is working out how to budget and save money on a low income. Here are some of the ways you can make this easier for yourself.

 

Change Your Mindset

The first step in changing your savings trajectory is to change your relationship with money. This isn’t always an easy step to take, but it’s important if you really want to discover how to save money fast on a low income.

It’s all about making this firm commitment to yourself, your family, and your bank account: you will not indulge in unnecessary purchases until your savings hit the next milestone.

Note that we say the next milestone (not your final goal). This is because it’s unrealistic to cut off all your leisure spending indefinitely until you reach your ultimate goal. It’s important for your long-term motivation to set milestones along the way at which you might reward yourself for your progress. And that’s where the next tip will help…

 

Make a Budget

This advice appears in just about all our posts about saving money, but there’s a good reason for that. Without a written budget, it’s impossible to even track your savings goals – let alone achieve them.

Depending on how your salary or wages are paid, you might choose to map your budget out weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. Either way, insert your income and all ongoing expenses (e.g. rent, bills, groceries) to see what your usual balance will be. From there, you can make the appropriate decisions about where you might be able save money on costs or cut down on discretionary spending.

 

Save on Household Bills

Some utility providers will offer payment plans for customers on low incomes. Speak with your electricity, water, and/or internet company to see what options might be available to you.

Aside from that, there are plenty of nifty things you can do to reduce your expenses on many of your regular bills. Try these articles for specific ideas:

 

Automate Your Savings

When you manually move your income into your savings account every time, it becomes every easy to skim some cash off your transfer or even forget altogether. However, if you set up an ongoing automated transfer every week, fortnight or month, this will ensure you always have a consistent amount of money going into your savings account.

 

Stay Out of Debt

Sometimes taking out a loan or using your credit card is your only option. But unnecessary debt can prolong your journey to financial freedom, so only fall back on these options when you really must. And when you do, consider choosing an option that you can pay back rapidly, such as a quick cash loan from Cigno.

Repayments can take a big bite out of the money you set aside for savings on each payday, so sorting out your debts is an essential step in getting your finances back on track. In fact, you may even be better off using any extra money to pay off debts early rather than putting it into your savings – just watch out for any fees for advance payments.

 

Earn Extra Money

One way to save money fast on a low income is to earn more money in the first place. Of course, you can’t magically turn a low-income job into a high-paying gig overnight. But what you can potentially do is pick up a side hustle to supplement your pay. From money-making apps to selling items online, here are some ideas to get you started.

 

We hope these suggestions have helped you work out how to budget and save money on a low income. Just remember there are always options available to you, and some smart choices and small sacrifices can make a big difference in the long run.

 

How to Save Money Online Shopping

Online shopping has plenty of advantages: it’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s convenient. When you think of something you need or want at midnight, you can click a few buttons and buy it instantly – no relying on yourself to remember when you wake up the next morning!

But the things that make online shopping so good are the same things that make it dangerous. Online shopping addiction is just as prevalent as in-person shopping addiction, affecting roughly 5-8% of people. In some ways, online shopping can become compulsive even more easily than physical retail therapy, because we:

  • Get to stay anonymous (fewer shame triggers)
  • Can make purchases 24/7 (including at times when we naturally have less willpower)
  • Have access to a massive variety of stores and products at our fingertips.

So, is it OK to keep adding to your cart? Maybe – as long as you’re staying within your budget and you know how to save money online shopping.

These online shopping tips to save money could help you keep your internet spending under control.

 

Cashback Websites and Coupons

The eCommerce space is highly competitive, which is why many retailers go to extreme lengths to earn your purchases. One way some sites do this is with cashback schemes, where they get a commission from your purchase (from the actual seller) and share part of that commission with you.

You essentially get the same product you were going to buy anyway, but you purchase it through a third party that refunds a percentage of the price (anywhere from 1% to 30% but usually around 5%) back to you (sometimes as a gift card or coupon).

Some of the top cashback sites in Australia, as ranked by Aussie Money Mum, include:

 

The Shopping Cart Trick

Have you ever abandoned your shopping cart after loading it with items, only to be hit with an email offering a discount on those products? Plenty of retailers use this tactic to close the deal, so you can turn the tables by intentionally leaving sites without completing your transactions.

If they don’t try this strategy to get you back within a day or two, just jump back in and complete your order anyway – no harm in trying!

 

Seasonal Sales

Unless you need a product urgently, it’s usually a smart idea to wait until a seasonal sale to snag it at the best possible price. If EOFY, Boxing Day, Cyber Monday or a Click Frenzy date is approaching, hold off a bit to avoid missing out on a bargain.

The same mentality can also be applied to seasonal products. Get a great deal on warm clothes when winter is wrapping up, or pick up some cheap beach toys and towels at the end of summer. This is a great way to save money online shopping as well as when shopping in stores.

 

Sign Up for Email Newsletters

This is one of our simplest online shopping tips to save money. Some online stores will give you an introductory discount just for subscribing with your email address, so keep an eye out for this offer.

They might follow up with exclusive offers via email, too. If they don’t, or if you find the email marketing tempts you to indulge a little too much, simply scroll to the bottom and unsubscribe.

 

Get Tech-Savvy

Websites often use “cookies”. These aren’t the delicious, chocolate-chip sort. No, these cookies are digital trails you leave that reveal your online browsing and purchasing behaviour.

With this information, some sites might raise prices on items you frequently browse and/or buy. You can negate this risk by regularly clearing your browsing data, ensuring every website treats you as a fresh customer.

 

Do Your Research

Just like shopping in person, it never hurts to compare prices before committing to a purchase. In fact, comparison shopping is nice and easy online – no walking or driving required. Just Google the item you’re after, then open the top few results in their own tabs to see their prices side by side.

Don’t forget to take varying delivery costs into account when comparing costs online.

 

Shop at Home, Pick Up in Store

Unless you get free shipping from a retailer, delivery costs can quickly add up when you’re shopping online. When you have the option and the ability to do so, consider choosing Click & Collect instead to save on costs while still enjoying the convenience of browsing online.

 

We hope these online shopping tips for saving money have given you some fresh ideas to keep your internet spending sprees within reason. If you need urgent money to buy something online, a quick cash loan up to $1,000 might be helpful – and you can apply with us 100% online as well.

How to Make Extra Money from Home During a Global Pandemic

Plenty of people are doing it tough during the coronavirus pandemic. The unemployment rate hit a 21-year high of 7.4% in June 2020, with the Reserve Bank of Australia forecasting it could reach up to 10% by December.

Many of us will continue to struggle even when the world is recovering from the aftermath. So, as restrictions tentatively lift, now is a great time to think about how to make extra money from home.

If you’ve lost your job or had your hours cut due to COVID-19, here are some ideas for how to earn extra money to help you get by until things turn around.

 

Become a Virtual Assistant

If you’ve got the experience and/or administrative talents to pull it off, a virtual assistant role could be right up your alley during the pandemic. The demand for virtual assistants was already on the rise before COVID-19 struck, due to the increasing trend of people working remotely and with flexible schedules.

Prior to the pandemic, some experts were already predicting the number of virtual assistants to grow in 2020. Now, as all businesses are forced to reconsider their status quo, virtual assistants are almost guaranteed to become essential components of more organisations.

If you’ve got secretarial skills or experience as a PA or receptionist, freelancing as a virtual assistant could be a great temporary role to help you make extra cash. You may even like it so much that you decide to make it a permanent career change!

 

Download Some Money-Making Apps

Yes, there are apps out there that will pay you for your time, opinions, and efforts. We covered some of Australia’s best money-making apps in this article, where we looked at:

  • Pureprofile (get paid to complete surveys, watch videos and visit websites)
  • Cashrewards (get cash back when you shop at over 1,200 retailers including Woolworths)
  • Twenty20 (submit photos and get paid whenever a subscriber licenses your pics)
  • Field Agent (take on jobs like mystery shopping and comparing grocery prices)
  • Receipt Hog (upload receipt photos to earn coins and turn them into gift cards).

Depending on the apps you choose, you might discover how to make money on the side without even leaving your couch!

 

Start a Blog

Blogging has been around for a while as an alternate way of making money. But in recent years, this pursuit has become more mainstream (and more lucrative) for Australians.

One of the more popular blogging niches is travel, but this isn’t a particularly viable direction in today’s climate. However, if you have expert knowledge, experience or passion in a specific area, you may be able to turn that into a thriving blog. Here are just a few of the 101 niches that Blogging Explorer nominates as potentially profitable:

  • Nutrition and supplements
  • Mindfulness (very important in today’s socially disconnected world)
  • Gardening
  • Arts and crafts
  • Exotic cuisine (imagine a guide on making different countries’ signature dishes at home)
  • Video game tutorials
  • Frugal living (pertinent right now as many people are unemployed or on reduced salaries)
  • Relationship advice
  • Pregnancy and parenting
  • Home-schooling (especially relevant at the moment).

 

Become a Delivery Driver

When you’re thinking about how to make extra cash during the coronavirus pandemic, the answer might be right in front of you – literally on your doorstep once a week (or more often for some of us!).

You’ve probably noticed that Uber Eats and Deliveroo drivers own the streets at night right now. If you’ve got a bicycle, motorbike or moped and free time during the day or evening, delivering food around town could be a tidy way to pad your pockets with extra money.

Alternatively, if you’ve got the qualifications/confidence to drive a truck, you may even consider becoming a driver for larger deliveries. With people turning to online shopping for their groceries and household items in unprecedented numbers, the demand for delivery drivers is high.

 

Sell Stuff Online

Feeling a bit cramped at home now that you’re stuck there more often? Wondering how to earn extra money? Take care of two birds with one stone by selling some of your non-essentials online.

While physical garage sales may not be a great option thanks to COVID-19, selling some things on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree could be a great way to clear some space and make some extra dough during the pandemic.

As you can see, there are quite a few routes to consider when choosing how to make extra money from home during the coronavirus pandemic. If you need a quick cash boost to help you get by while exploring one of these ideas, a fast $1,000 loan might be the solution.

Top 8 Tax Traps to Watch Out For

For many of us, tax time is an exciting chance to get some money back and maybe splurge on something we’ve been wanting all year. But if you fall into one of these tax traps and get caught, your financial relief can rapidly spiral into money troubles.

Here are 8 examples of mistakes and things you cannot claim money for on your tax return. Take note and take care to avoid them.

 

#1: Double Dipping

You cannot claim expenses that your employer has reimbursed you for. Whether you’ve travelled for interstate meetings or picked up some extra stationery for the office, if your employer paid you back, it shouldn’t appear on your tax return.

 

#2: Claiming Rent or Mortgage

If you’re one of the many people who have been working at home a lot in 2020, you might think you can claim a portion of your rent or mortgage repayments. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Occupancy expenses are not claimable for employees.

 

#3: Not Making Any Deduction Claims

The biggest mistake you can make with your tax return is to not claim any deductions at all. With few exceptions, everyone accumulates at least some claimable expenses throughout the financial year. Don’t miss out by neglecting this section of your tax return.

 

#4: Travelling to and from Work

This one can be a little confusing at first. If your work includes travelling (e.g. between offices or to clients), you can usually claim a portion of your travel expenses. However, your transport directly between home and work is not eligible to be claimed.

 

#5: Proof of Expenses

If your tax return includes expense claims totalling over $300, you need to make sure you have written evidence to verify your expenses. Keep this proof for at least 5 years.

 

#6: Work Expenses That Aren’t Really Work Expenses

Any work expenses you claim need to be exactly that – related to your work. A gaming laptop shouldn’t appear on your tax return, for example, unless you happen to also use it for working at home. Similarly, a portable speaker wouldn’t be a claimable expense unless you’ve bought it to play music in the office.

When you’re considering claiming an expense, think about whether you could justify to an authority figure that it’s a work-related expense. If you’re unsure, it’s usually best to lean towards caution – or ask your accountant.

 

#7: Rushing Your Return

You might think getting your tax return in ASAP and completing it quickly is a good idea. But this can lead to mistakes that end up costing you in the end. Take your time to ensure you don’t miss any deductions or miscalculate any of your expenses. Also, make sure your bank details are up to date.

 

#8: “My Tax Agent Is Responsible”

Whether you prepare your own return or go through an agent, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring all the information in your claim is correct and accurate. If you make false claims – intentional or accidental – you’re the one who will face the consequences. So, take your time, calculate your expenses carefully, and always report honestly.

 

Tax time can be a great relief, but not if you fall into a tax trap. Keep these mistakes in mind while preparing your return to ensure you don’t get caught out.