It’s Dry July – what financial ‘ vice’ could you cut from your life for a month?
SOMETIMES the most expensive vices are not so much the things we do as the things we don’t do. So for Dry July, I’m going to banish the vice of procrastination. Here are a few things that I’ve been putting off:
Last month the insurance policy on one of our cars was due for renewal. Rather than paying the renewal notice I obtained an online quote for exactly the same policy with, I should add, the same company. It was half the price! Same company, same conditions. So I saved several hundred dollars. Since then I’ve been meaning to do the same thing for our other car, our camper trailer, our motorbike and our home and contents insurance. This month I will do it!
We’ve had the same bank account products for quite a while now and I know, from working at canstar. com. au, that there are much, much cheaper options out there. This month I will negotiate those fees to be waived or, failing that, switch bank accounts.
Superannuation is a long- term investment but that doesn’t mean it should be set- and- forget. I’m happy with my super fund in terms of fees, insurance and performance, but this month I’ll investigate the investment options it offers to see if I could be doing even better. After all, an extra 1 per cent return on my super fund could, over 30 years, equal an extra hundred thousand or so by retirement. Definitely worth doing!
Comparing my insurance premiums.
Checking my bank fees.
Reviewing my super.
IT’S the middle of winter. It’s freezing outside. If this is about sacrifice, I think we could cut out heating at home for the month . . . by going to Bali! Which is where I’m writing this from. Cheating? Not in the spirit of things? Financial vices, hmmm. I haven’t got many. When I see myself wasting money, I read myself the riot act. There are brutal consequences for me if I think I can waste my own money.
Apart from the obvious. If I participated in Dry July itself, the saved bar bill would feed a village of star ving Africans for a month. Bit fond of a drink. And why do I drink? To take away the pain of opening Mrs DebtMan’s monthly credit card bill. Every month when I open it, my eyes bleed.
Could I nominate a top- 10 vices I’d love to see her give up for the month? Actually, limiting it to just 10 would be too hard. It would be easier to do a Triple J- style “Top 100 splurging hits” of some of the bizarre things she blows money on. Nope? It’s gotta be me? Dang. Tough. I’d have to nominate entertainment in general. Eating out, drinking out and time at the pub. It’s good times, with friends and family. And isn’t that what life is really about?
But if I really felt I needed to cut back for a month to save money . . . and I could convince Mrs DebtMan to get on board . . . I’m sure my friends would be there at the end of it. THE vice you can cut from your budget usually depends on your stage of life and your goals. When you’re trying to save a deposit for a house one of the most effective vices to drop is takeout coffee – maybe around $ 12-$ 15 a day. That’s more than $ 3700 each year, just adding up your working days. The trick is to take the money you save and bank it.
Other vices might include cable TV – which is nice, but no one really needs it. Or rolling over your smart phone every six months to keep up with the latest technology.
One vice that most young people could drop, and save themselves a lot of dough, is boutique beers. They’re very expensive.
Others could look at taxis. Taxis are great for getting home at night if you’ve had too much to drink, but making them a habit is expensive and a vice that most people could easily cut from their budgets. Ride- sharing, buses, trains and even walking – they’re much cheaper.
The trick to cutting vices from your spending is not simply to get rid of them altogether but to admit you like some things and just find a more affordable way to do them. For instance, don’t stop drinking wine: buy the specials or buy by the dozen for lower prices. If you want a fancy car, get one that’s eight months old – not brand new.
Bringing budgets under control doesn’t have to mean no enjoyment – just a better managing of your cash flow.