Man­ag­ing your bud­get for the New Year

Kapi-Mana News - - BACKYARD BANTER -

Jan­uary is typ­i­cally char­ac­terised by making and promptly break­ing New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. But here’s one worth keep­ing – how to be bet­ter with your money.

Many Ki­wis pour their hard-earned cash straight down the drain each year. De­cem­ber 31st ar­rives and we won­der where on earth our bank bal­ance dis­ap­peared to.

It’s al­ways pos­si­ble to be bet­ter with our money, but it does re­quire a con­certed ef­fort – par­tic­u­larly if you have a fam­ily or are plan­ning on re­tir­ing in the next few years. Make 2016 the year you get back into the black with th­ese bud­get-friendly tips.

1. Track your spend­ing. Tally how much you earn, sub­tract how much you spend, and an­a­lyse the dif­fer­ence. The best way to mon­i­tor your spend­ing is to track ev­ery cent in a diary or through an on­line bud­get­ing tool such as sorted.org.nz. The more vis­i­ble your spend­ing, the more ob­vi­ous it is how much you’re wast­ing.

2. Pri­ori­tise debt. The sooner you set­tle your debt, the less in­ter­est you’ll have to pay. Con­sider ask­ing a fi­nan­cial spe­cial­ist for a con­sol­i­dated loan that merges all your debts into one and makes it eas­ier to track. Ask your friends, fam­ily or neigh­bours for a per­sonal rec­om­men­da­tion.

3. Emer­gen­cies & long-term spend­ing. It’s hard to split ex­penses like car reg­is­tra­tions and home main­te­nance into monthly pay­ments, so put money aside ev­ery month into a longterm spend­ing fund so it’s there when you need it. Bud­get­ing ex­perts also rec­om­mend keep­ing 3-6 months of salary aside, just in case a job loss or se­ri­ous ill­ness pre­vents you from work­ing.

4. Change the way you spend and socialise. Al­ways write a list be­fore you go to the su­per­mar­ket and shop around. Join a li­brary for you and a toy li­brary for the kids. Switch your gym mem­ber­ship for a daily run or find oth­ers to train with. In­vite friends over for din­ner rather than go­ing out – or in­vite your­self to theirs! Catch up on a beach walk rather than over cof­fee. Car­pool with col­leagues and take a packed lunch to work. Over­haul your in­sur­ance poli­cies, just in case you’re pay­ing more than you need to.

5. Con­nect with your com­mu­nity. Use Neigh­bourly.co.nz to set up and find free fam­ily-friendly com­mu­nity events. Share sur­plus fruit and fire­wood; sell un­wanted goods and claim free­bies; and ask for bud­get-cut­ting sug­ges­tions just in case any­one else has some good ideas.

6. Use re­wards pro­grammes and credit card point sys­tems. Th­ese let you earn treats or dol­lars while you spend. Sign up for a credit card that earns air­points or dol­lar-value re­wards; use it to pay for ev­ery ex­pense, then pay it back im­me­di­ately. Start do­ing this at the be­gin­ning of the year then use your points bal­ance to cover next Christ­mas.

7. Don’t forget to have fun. Good bud­gets recog­nise that life is meant to be lived too, so make sure you fac­tor in some fun. Go to the movies on Cheap Tues­days. Go out for din­ner at BYO rather than five-star restau­rants. Beach days are far cheaper than monthly trips to the zoo.

A fam­ily day of fun doesn’t have to cost the earth.

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