Every now and then it pays to conduct an overhaul of our budget (or start one in some cases). The catalyst could be a disconnection notice or an overdrawn fee, or perhaps you realise you just need some savings for a holiday or rainy day. Whatever sparks your desire to sit down and re-evaluate, it’s a given that changes will need to be made in order to change your current situation.
Assessing your current environment
Mumpreneurs are renowned for their ability to multi-task, plan ahead and use their creativity in business and as such, make for great budgeters.
First thing’s first, you need to sit down and list every expense you have. Don’t forget those annual expenses such as car registration and be sure to factor in your true expenses on incidentals each week. Once you have this list you have a few options to choose from to suit your lifestyle. Here are a couple of ideas but you may find a system that works better for you.
1. Change all expenses to a weekly, fortnightly or monthly amount in line with your pay period. So if you are paid weekly, you’ll change your $520 yearly car registration to $10/week and so on. You can then set up sub accounts to pay these into.
2. Use an Excel spread sheet to list all your expenses down the first column, and then following columns are based per pay period. You can use formulas to make calculations so that it automatically updates your totals and differences as you change expenses. This way you can plan to pay $520 the week your registration is due without saving small bits all year.
Making change to create change
Once you know where you are currently at with your finances, it’s time to look at ways to either increase your income or decrease your spending so you can make financial progress. This is a great time to think creatively and be open minded. Perhaps one or some of these options would be worth you exploring:
1. Put as much money on to your credit card/s as possible so you pay them off and get rid of this bad debt. This then leaves you more spare money to put to more beneficial matters. Any financial advisor will advocate this as your number one priority. It’s liberating, I can say this first hand!
2. Buy groceries in bulk and prepare lunches. Watch incidental spending – do you really need that $4 coffee? It adds up!
3. Buy the family’s clothes at a Direct Factory Outlet. If you love labels you can still dress accordingly but save a mini fortune instead of shopping for this season’s department or boutique store range.
4. Try Aldi or Bi Lo for your groceries one week, you may realise you can make the swap permanently or even if’s just to get dishwashing liquid, laundry powder, cloths etc you’ll still save compared to shopping at the big brand supermarkets.
5. Book holidays through Wotif.com or other discounted accommodation sites.
6. Sign up to Cudo or Spreets or other discounted email groups and look out for bargains. Beware that you may end up buying things you would not normally purchase which defeats the purpose. But if you go out to dinner once a fortnight, your $100 evening could easily be reduced to a $30 or $40 night out.
7. Shop for business promotional gear at Vistaprint, they have deals every day where you can get free and heavily discounted products. Shop at the right time to score yourself free products and make the most of their spend $x and get free delivery – it’s better to pay for product you can use than to pay for the shipment.
8. If you have some free time in mornings or afternoons, consider distributing papers or catalogues for some extra cash, or taking up a party plan concept. Many of these now have low or no start up fees and can earn you extra cash.
9. If you habitually purchase magazines, suggest your friends or family get you magazine subscriptions for your birthday – you save the dollars and still get the gossip or time out fix that comes with buying magazines.
10. Explore a high interest savings account such as U Bank, where you can put aside cash while it earns you up to 6% in some cases and takes out no fees. Make a habit of only depositing into it and you’ll have a healthy holiday account or nest egg in no time.
If you find you need to take considerable measures, get the whole family on board. Talk to them about how saving money will help the family and get them involved. Turn shopping trips into games for little ones by asking them to find the lowest price yoghurt or giving them a star every time they turn a light off. Maybe offer your teens a sleep over or day out as a reward for their help with saving power or not drinking the milk “just because”. It all adds up and sometimes the greatest memories come out situations such as these, because everyone works towards a common goal and can celebrate that achievement together.
Jackie Behrend owns and manages Creative Correspondence - offering professional and creative writing services for individuals and SMEs, with prices to suit. Services include media releases, speeches for weddings, special occasions and presentations, resumes, cover letters and Key Selection Criteria, brochure and website content and more. "Like" at http://on.fb.me/bbmnRN and follow on Twitter - www.twitter.com/writingforall