After the post-Christmas sales have settled it’s time to get savvy with the accounts again. Michelle Hutchison, from advises all Australians to sit down with a printout of their bank accounts and go through the direct debits carefully.

“Get a print out from your bank of all your automatic direct debits and find out which ones you don’t ned anymore,” she advised

If asked, banks can provide a list of all your automatic direct debits for the last thirteen months, so it’s probably easier than you thought.

An unused gym membership deducting $20 a week will cost you $1,040 a year. Getting rid of it will make a substantial saving in your yearly expenditure.

Direct debits can be insidious. The ‘set and forget’ ease of them means it’s very easy to keep paying for things you no longer need or use.

Insurers sometimes charge an extra month’s cost when the policy is paid by monthly direct debit instead of a yearly upfront fee. It might be a bitter pill to swallow when the yearly pay-by date arrives, but the savings will be worth it.

Finally, always ensure you have money in your account to cover your direct debit. Banks can slug customer’s punitive fines when dishonouring a payment from lack of funds, sometimes as much as $35!

Michelle Hutchins suggests consumers have their debit days marked on a calendar to always ensure money is in the account for the transaction.

Nowhere else is the dictum, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a tone of cure’ truer than in personal finance: Stay ahead to stay on top.

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