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Phew! Christmas is done. Now it’s time to start thinking about 2016. For some of us January is typically a time of rest and recuperation. For others it’s time to get back in to the swing of things after a break.

In my house we ramp the fitness back up, clear the house of junk food, limit the alcohol for a bit and most importantly reset our family budget.


 

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December and January are expensive times for us. January shapes up pretty similarly to December for us with the onset of another school year. January is when we sit down and work out what the year is going to hold financially. We revisit the regular expenses we need to budget for, see what’s left to put away for a holiday and realistically decide how much we can save.

To be successful with a family budget if you have a partner you need to do this together so you can both agree on your spending and saving goals.

Here are 10 tips for setting yourself up for financial success in 2016:

1) Understand your 2015 spending

Break your spending in to categories. If you don’t have the figures easily accessible, consider a PFM (personal finance manager) that will categorise your spending and show how much you spent in each area over the last 3 or 12 months.

2) See what savings you can make this year.

Once you have your spending information, see where you can make cuts. Can you spend less on groceries or eating out?  Can you pay less for insurances, get a discount on your home loan rate, and negotiate with your gas and electricity provider for a better rate?

3) Kids activities and schooling costs

Check kid’s uniforms, school fees and donations, and estimate the amount required for camps and excursions through the year. It’s also a good time to rethink your kids’ activities. Can they do activities more valuable for the money you are spending or the same activities for less? Set a dollar limit for gifts for them and the birthday parties they’ll attend through the year.

4) Have a goal

Think about what you want to achieve with your money this year. Do you want to take a holiday? Save for a house deposit, a baby or a wedding? Do you want to pay extra off your mortgage? Think about how much money you will need to meet your financial goals.

5) Write a budget

Take into consideration your goals and commit to making adjustments to your spending to take out the extra you need to put towards meeting them.

6) Debt repayment and savings first

Set up an automatic transfer from your transaction account to the debt or a savings account that is difficult to access.  If you have credit card or other unsecured debt repay that before saving! Paying 20% interest on debt is crazy when you’re earning less than 3% on savings.

7) Banking structure

Make sure your banking structure suits your financial goals. For example, it’s great to have an account for spending, an account for bills and emergencies, and an additional account for savings. Make sure that you find accounts with no or minimal fees to get the best value. Savings are less accessible in an account without an ATM card that can only be transferred overnight.

8) Credit cards and store cards. 

You only need one! Review your credit cards, annual fees, interest rates and choose the best deal. If you have high balances, consider a balance transfer and work towards one card.

9) Make new spending habits  

Going out to dinner? Go BYO. Purchase 2 take away coffees a day? Switch to 1 strong one. Learn to say no to spending opportunities. Friends want to go out to brekkie? Move it to a park with a BBQ and give the kids freedom to run and be noisy and save yourself some money. Put a spending limit on nights out.

10) Commit to checking in

Once you’ve written a budget and agreed on your goal and any spending changes, set aside a time regularly to check in.  Life has the habit of sending us off track at times, and having a monthly catch up with your money will help you make adjustments to keep as close as possible to meeting your goals by the end of the year.

Do you have any tips to add? SHARE with us in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • Agree that this is an old one – however I managed to step up to the mark in 2016 and we enjoyed a lot of quality time fully paid for with no debt during 2017 and expect to do the same in 2018.

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  • need to step up into 2018 mom. . this one is a little old.

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  • I suck at new years resolutions but I could definitely rework the budget

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  • Having a budget is so important but it’s so hard to stick to!

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  • I find it’s easier to do this in Feb, when things are less crazed.

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  • budget? what is a budget LOL

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  • Great ideas. Thank you for sharing.

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  • We have a budget book with what we need to say each month and has been working for about 18months now. Its great we have columns for Gas, Electricity, rates, water, insurances, food etc

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  • I have a prepaid mobile phone and always recharge it just before the due date so that by balance rolls over. I watch out for discounted vouchers for it. With mine I can ring or text others with the same provider free. One company you can nominate a set number of phone numbers that are same provider that you get free. When I calculate a new budget I add 5% to the utility and insurance bills; also rates and taxes from the previous year to allow for increases. Trying to reduce an electricity account is very hard. More often that not when I use less electricity I get a higher account because the supply charge has increased. I have nothing on standby. Most appliances are switched off at the power point. Only the refrigerator and freezer are left on if I go away, which is often only for one or two nights. I keep extra food in the freezer section in case I am sick and can’t go shopping. On one occasion I wasn’t able to go shopping for nearly 3 weeks.
    I find it hard to cut food bills as I don’t buy luxuries. I stock up extra when products I use all the time are on special. It saves buying them at the higher prices, especially if the difference is 10% or more. Sometimes you get products at 50% off.


    • Some great tips here!! I’ve never done the prepaid thing, we have our mobiles with Vaya, which we love. $18 per month gives us free talk to others on Vaya, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of data. We pay for 4 mobiles at the moment, with 2 kids in high school, so that’s as low as I’ve managed to find it. Great idea factoring in increases in utilities etc, as you say supply charges keep increasing!

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  • Always good to keep track of your finances and budget, not only at the beginning of the year :)

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  • Kept well to my budget last year and was able to pay for some unexpected bills without breaking the bank. This year I want to do better so that we can enjoy as much quality time doing what we want while we still have time together – I’m sure we will achieve this as I am determined to make it happen.

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  • Very wise. Thanks for the information.

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  • We just rehashed our family budget today. Hoping this year we can do a bit more saving than last!

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  • i agree with keeping track of every expenditure, no matter how small. you will see where you can start spending wiser and saving money elsewhere.


    • also food is a really big cost so so where you can cut back but making your own or substituting for a cheaper brand.

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  • We find asking bank/insurance etc for a better deal really works!

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