Keeping on top of your finances can be one of the most important things that you do for your long-term wealth. Managing your finances starts from the moment you earn your first paycheck and is prudent to be maintained throughout your career and into retirement. Even if you have been a regular saver for a long period of time, ask yourself: when was the last time you did a finance health check and is it due again?
Check out these simple ways to get your saving on or back on track:
While writing a budget might not be sexy, not having a budget might be a heavy price to pay in the long run. Knowing exactly where your money goes is the fastest way to plug any money holes and get your expenditure under control.
When reviewing your budget, split your outgoing funds into sections, such as bills, entertainment, goals and emergency, so that you know every cent is doing its job. Look for expenses you can cut back and concentrate those savings into your savings goal(s).
Renegotiate your bills
So you’ve received your monthly utility bill. Perhaps it’s gone up from last month. Can that increase in cost be justified or is it time you reviewed your usage and called the provider to renegotiate your rate? You might be surprised by what companies will do to retain loyal customers. Utilities like your phone bill, gas or power, insurances and mortgages should all be reviewed regularly. While you’re on the phone, also ask to waive or abolish any account fees!
Create a financial calendar
Knowing where your money is going is one piece of the pie, but knowing when your money has peak and trough months is also part of keeping your savings account healthy. If you know that one month of the year will have higher than usual expenditure, try building up a pool of funds in the preceding months so there are funds available when that ‘heavy hit’ comes around.
Lay off the card and deal in cash
Challenge yourself to deal only in cash transactions for a month. When your money is tactile, it is easier to keep tabs on when and where you are spending it. If you purchase a coffee on your way to work each morning and pay for it with a card, it is easy for this cost to be lost in your subconscious. Paying in cash will help bring all your daily transactions into the light for review.
Find your budget mantra
“Would I prefer this [item/experience] or spend the money on a holiday for my birthday?”
“I like this outfit but can I wait until it’s on sale?”
“Instead of going to a restaurant this weekend, I’ll invite friends to my home.”
Savour what you have or sell it
Do you have a stash of items around the home that are valuable but you no longer use? If you still have a use for it – great, keep it! But if you no longer use it, consider selling it. Things like baby gear, excess gardening or exercise equipment, formal attire … so many items can be sold online and there are people in the same boat as you looking to save a penny by buying pre-loved.
Separate your savings
If you find dipping into your savings/goal funds is just too tempting, try setting up a dedicated savings account and automate a percentage of your income into the account. That way funds are accumulating without the temptation to spend. Look for an account that pays great interest and is fee free. Check out the LLL Personal Savings Account for your dedicated savings account.
Time vs effort
Picture this - you’re considering buying something new. Perhaps you need it or perhaps you’d just like to have it. Either way is fine, but before making the purchase, reflect on the price of the item in terms of the number of hours worked to pay for it. Does this change your perspective of its worth?
Auto-renew subscriptions can catch us out. Are you still getting value out of that magazine and are you still using that paid tv subscription? If not, is it time to go?
More budgeting tips can be found on the Money Smart website.
For more information on the LLL please visit www.lll.org.au
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