A while ago I was browsing the papers from the U.K. and I happened upon an article entitled “10 incredibly simple financial rules EVERYONE should follow.”
Being the curious type and thinking I was pretty swish when it came to financial literacy – mainly through years of listening to my financial guru, the one and only David Koch from channel 7 Sunrise – I thought I’d just check out how I was traveling.
1. Be “micro expense” aware
The article explained that, as consumers, many of us are unconsciously spending without realising how much and on what. It pointed out that these day-to-day “micro expenses” can really mount up. Now my drug of choice is coffee which really helps me get through the day. But good coffee beans don’t come free in this life and at $4.50, coffee is not cheap. Just one measly cup of Joe every weekday racks up a staggering $1,170 a year on average, which is a lot of money, especially when you have 3 to 4 cups!The old adage of take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves rings true today more than ever. The bottom line is that we do need to make sure we are aware of our daily expenses so that we are able to stabilise our spending. I probably need to work on this one!
2. Budget like you’re Peter Costello or Paul Keating
Not wishing to get political or anything, but as I recall both these guys knew what was coming in and what was going out when they were in charge of the nation’s finances. When it comes to your family, the million dollar question is do you? There is nothing more powerful than establishing and following a family budget. Truthfully, this one also needs work.
3. Use technology to your advantage
I love technology, (ask Sabina!) and there are a plethora of new apps and services that can help you manage your finances. From keeping track of your budget, investing smartly and tracking your money in real time, so make the most of the tech on offer. This I get right! Yay!
4. Save, save, save
My Mum used to divide our pocket money into three bits. A third to spend, a third to save and a third to give to charity. She taught me that stashing a portion of the cash away every month was a powerful way to gain control and I was always oddly surprised with the results of this extremely positive habit, which eventually resulted in me buying my first car – a vermillion fire Holden Kingswood. So I definitely get a tick here!
4. Take an interest in finance
For many years while at Uni, when I wasn’t chasing girls, I had my head in psychology books. Writing a Phd didn’t leave much time for reading much else. As a result, I tended to just leave what little money I had in the bank, instead of making it work for me. This taught me that I really should have kept myself more informed with the latest financial news, even if it was just the basics. Do you know the current interest rates? Are your investments making any money? Can you get a better deal for any loans you may have? Being educated about finance is just plain smart. I’m better now in this department than I was back then!
5. Make 2017 the year you get debt free
The article did contain bits of advice that seemed to come from the university of the bleeding obvious, like ‘stay out of debt’ or ‘clear up any debts you have as quickly as possible.’ Fair enough. Apart from my mortgage, which was pretty unavoidable, I have always tried to do this, so I reckon I get a pass here too.
6. Spend less than you earn
Well duh! This again is just common sense, although I remember growing up listening to the legendary broadcaster John Laws who used to say that common sense wasn’t all that common! But they are right, using technology (see point 3) the amount of real time information on my spending has never been better. We all should realise pretty quickly if we are spending more than we are earning. No excuses! Tick on that one!
7. Only use cash
This may be a heritage listed solution, but if you only take cash out the door and ditch the cards, you will better understand where and how you’re spending your money because it is actually disappearing physically before your eyes. Even if you do this just once a week it will remind you of the value of money in a way that pay wave cannot. I don’t do this at all – but might start a new tradition – having read the advice!
8. Check your transactions
The article did say that each day I should spend a minute or two to check my transactions from the previous day, to have a better understanding of how I am spending and what’s happening with my money. I actually do this – phew, another tick!!!
9. Use the 50/20/30 rule
I think Kochie mentioned this years ago. It involves dividing my monthly income into set chunks. For example, 50 per cent to go on living expenses, 20 per cent on savings, 30 per cent to spend on entertainment and going out. As a general principle, this is the best way to start your budgeting journey. Again I need to work more diligently on this one!
In conclusion, despite our best efforts, I think we all find ourselves struggling to make ends meet each month. For a whole lot of reasons, some within our control and others not, overspending is an all too familiar scenario for many families, but the experts in this article and the great David Koch say there’s a few simple steps you can follow to ensure you’re never short of cash. The Family Peace Foundation wishes you the best in budgeting!