Lockdown is no picnic – we all know that by now. This new “Stuckhome Syndrome” might cause us to be anxious and irritable, but it does have a few positive side-effects, especially when it comes to saving money. As we’ve detailed on the site, we spend less on travel, food, the gym, and going out – not the shiniest of silver linings, but it is there!
With all this spare time on our hands, now is the opportunity to get your personal budget sorted. If you, like so many others, say “I’ll do it later” – later has well and truly arrived.
Here are four tips to get your personal budget sorted; and it’s easier than you might think.
Audit your finances
Figuring out where your money goes these days is easier than ever. Australia’s largest bank, Commonwealth Bank, boasts five million users of its NetBank app – and all the “Big 4” and most smaller banks or credit unions have similar apps on offer. Alternatively, try a free government apps, such as Simple Money Manager. These apps can help you track your income and expenses each month. You need to get a handle on your expenses and where they all go, breaking them down into categories. Transport, mortgage/rent, groceries, utilities, leisure, meals, education, debt repayments, and so on. If you find you’re spending too much on utilities, you can try to turn off lights or use more economical wash cycles. If you’re spending too much on leisure, you can go out or cancel streaming subscriptions you don’t use often.
Forecast your expenses
Most NetBank apps also allow you to forecast your expenses, especially if you have fixed repayments for some of your categories, such as rent/mortgage or loan repayments. If you’re set up with BPay, you can get advance notice for some of your bills. If these are direct debited at inconvenient times, you can opt for the money to be taken out closer to your pay days. You can also allocate expenses into “buckets” which covers daily expenses, monthly expenses, growth, or savings, and “splurging.” This way your income is pre-allocated each month without having to do any guesswork.
Consolidate your debts with a personal loan
If you have a few credit cards or a small personal loan hanging over your head, it can be difficult to get on top of them all. Credit cards have notoriously high interest rates; and the more you spend, the more you need to pay back. Bill Tsouvalas, Managing Director of Savvy says that consolidating your debts will reduce the interest burden and get you towards real savings faster. “Combining all your debts and paying them under one loan with fixed interest over a set time will give you stability and accountability,” he says. “With interest rates the lowest they’re ever going to be, now is the time to chop up your credit cards and save yourself loads and loads in interest.”
Refinance your home loan
If you haven’t looked at your home loan in a while, it might be worth refinancing. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to refinancing, which you can read here. In short, it’s finding a lower cost home loan to make savings in repayments or allow you to finish paying off your home loan sooner.
A few tips go a long way
Just by sitting down and going through the numbers, you can end up saving yourself a lot of money – a lot of it being dead money such as interest. It’s well worth the effort, especially if you can get out of debt and start saving.