We’ve all had that accidental splurge at the supermarket store. You know the one, you tell yourself you’ll ‘just pop by for some milk and bread’ and then find yourself doing the walk of shame with a trolley full of items you didn’t really need. By the time you’re at the register you’ve charged your credit card with a total well over expected.
It’s no wonder Australians owe a total of over $32 billion in credit card debt!
Grocery stores aren’t the only crime scenes. You may have spent a little too much on your children’s birthday gifts, bought one too many coffees this week or perhaps treated yourself a little too much with that clothing sale you simply couldn’t resist.
But with the average Australian household spending an estimated $69,166 on general living costs annually, the question stands; why do we spend so much of our life working if we don’t use our earnings in a way that will benefit us – and our family – in the long term?
So if you’re looking to maximise your finances and minimise the plastic, follow these smart household finance tips and ensure you aren’t compromising your family’s well-being along the way.
- Set a savings target: Start minimising your dependence on credit by building up your savings. Start by setting a comfortable savings target which works with your income and typical expenses. Meeting these targets will keep you motivated and regular saving will guarantee you have enough cash for the necessities and unexpected shortfalls.
- Create a budget and stick to it: Budgeting is always important but it must be feasible. By creating weekly or monthly budgets you will be more in control of your spending. First identify your fixed costs such as rent, bills and loan repayments. Set aside enough to meet your savings target for the month and then allocate reasonable amounts to other necessary fields such as groceries. Look to minimise your family’s entertainment and leisure spending, treating this as a reward following periods of notable saving.
- Create shopping lists: Ever shop when you’re hungry and come back with way too many groceries? We are often enticed by items on sale which can quickly rack up our bill. It’s a well-known simple trick but writing a list of everything you need before you go shopping and making sure the list falls under your budget.
- Pay less, pay cash: When it comes to your finances, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ should not be your mantra. Charging payments to credit and debit cards cause spenders to feel ‘less guilt’ as their loss is concealed. Where possible, pay with cash to ensure you are aware of your spending and aren’t using more than you have budgeted.
- Don’t credit school fees: Whilst this is all too common, putting your children’s school fees on credit will cause more harm than good. Anticipate upcoming payments and factor these costs into your budgeted savings in the months prior to make sure you can meet these obligations as they fall due.
- Shop around: When it comes to holiday gifting seasons or even the weekly grocery shop, research competitors to find the best price on products. In fact, the 2014 Westpac Christmas Finance Report found about 72% of shoppers saved by using their smartphone or tablet to price check while wandering the aisles in store to see if they could land themselves a better price elsewhere.
- Regularly monitor your finances: Finally, keep a check on how you’re tracking with your finances. Frequently check your statements, meet your loan repayments and regularly monitor your personal credit score (I use www.getcreditscore.com.au because it’s free!). If you have a stronger credit score you can negotiate better deals when you’re borrowing money in the future.
I’ve integrated these tips into my everyday household life, and I wish I’d started sooner! You don’t have to sacrifice everything to save money – you just need to think (and spend!) smarter.
You can thank me when you’re sipping martinis from your private yacht one day.
Do you have any other tips to add to the list that work for you? Please share in the comments below.
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