Whether you’re trying to muster up hours with your Ls or you just barely scraped through the Ps test, securing your first set of wheels is easily one of the most exciting purchases you’ll make.
It brings the promise of adventures with your mates, the sweet taste of freedom and it means you no longer have to ask your parents for the family car every time you want to head out.
The truth is though, saving up for a car is easier said than done. I started saving up for a car when I was 16-years-old and it took me two years to eventually buy a trusty second-hand stead called Marina the Barina. The car had been knocked around with the dents to show and had some pretty bad paint damage but it was bloody cheap and did the job.
Whether it be brand spankin’ new car or a second-hand beauty that has some potential, you’re going to need a strategy on how to save money while still living comfortably.
1. Set a savings goal
This number needs to include the price of the actual car as well as the cost of rego, insurance and things like upcoming services. Having a realistic savings goal is going to be your motivator to actually get your life together and put money away, so make sure it's something you can actually achieve and track your progress along the way.
2. Creating a budget
After you’ve set a goal, it’s time to sit down and work out a budget that works for you. If you’re after a car in two years’ time, calculate how much you’d need to save monthly or weekly.
A budget doesn't have to mean restricting all your spending and never doing anything fun; it's just a good way to track where your money is going and reassess how much you're spending on different things. There's a tonne of free templates out there but the easiest way to get started is to write down your spending each day–chuck your morning coffee, your lunch, the Uber home and the online order you made while you were bored at work in the notes in your phone and watch how quickly it adds up.
From there you can work out how much you really need to be spending and how much you can afford to put away for a car.
3. Don't touch your money
If you're anything like me, as soon as you get paid, you'll want to spend it. The best thing to do is to literally get the money out of your reach. Ask your parents if they'll keep the money in an account under their name, get rid of any extra debit cards and schedule automatic payments into a savings account. The less you see the money, the less you'll be tempted to spend it.
4. Work more
Look, this one is always good in theory but it's painful when you put your hand up for an extra shift then realise you actually have to work it. Try to find other ways to earn some extra money (outside just asking for more shifts); can you sell some of your old stuff? Host a market stall? Charge your neighbour to babysit their kids? Pick up some freelancing gigs?
5. Change your spending habits
Quite possibly the hardest step in saving is evaluating whether buying some things are really worth it. Was that new shirt worth the 90 bucks you spent on it? Did you really need to buy lunch that day? When you’re saving you need to think of the cheaper alternatives.
Go and explore some of your local op-shops for clothes or borrow things off your mates instead of buying a whole new outfit. Take full advantage of the fact that your parents probably do the grocery shopping and eat at home as much as possible. Pre-drink instead of spending all your cash at the bar or convince your friends to stay in this weekend.
It's time to reconsider what you're spending your cash on; if you really want to get to your goal you're going to have to work at it. That's not to say you need to become a hermit that never goes out or spends any of their cash, but the more conscious you are of how you're spending your money, the better you can control it.