You can come out now

Have I told you how much I dislike the winter? I hate the cold and I can’t always get warm enough. My joints ache, and I often feel sleepy.

Did you know that your finances can also suffer a bit during winter? Many times during the cold months I hear complaints about “being broke” and “finding it hard to pay the bills”.

When it’s cold and there’s not much sun we can become a little depressed. And of course, the greatest used anti-depressant is shopping. Unfortunately it’s not the cheapest.

But now that it is the first day of September, we can say that spring is here. It’s time to pack away our winter blues and come out of hibernation. The best part of September is the end of the wintery weather.

As the temperature warms up, we can get ‘out and about’. Some of us will spend time getting our gardens back into shape. It’s the best time of year for getting things done.

Like our gardens, our budgets might need some attention. Sure, a bit of weeding and pruning might be required but with a little bit of extra care we can soon have them blossoming again.

Spring is here. The winter is over!

You can come out now and get things back where they should be.

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

Employment stakes – who is more clever?

In 1988, Bob Hawke the then Prime Minister stated that Australia needed to become ‘the clever country’. That statement became part of the 1990 election campaign.

Since that time there’s been huge encouragement for kids to stay at school and then progress to university before commencing their chosen career.

So with an abundance of highly educated young people competing for salaried positions it’s no wonder that there appears to be a shortage of suitable positions for these ‘clever ‘people.

And because there is a continued growth of white-collar workers available, there now seems to be a diminishing list of tradespeople available.

What many people fail to realise is that many of these tradespeople are earning great incomes in industries where there is now little competition.

The ServiceSeeking  Tradie Rich List is a list of Australia’s richest tradesmen by hourly rates and location. In 2016, the entry mark into the Tradie Rich List was $68.58/hour

WA Plumbers make the most money, charging an average of $87.67 per hour with WA Electricians running a close second place, earning $87.33 per hour.

NSW Builders occupy third spot and are the biggest movers in 2016, earning $77.85 per hour, up 27.7% on last year.

NSW has the wealthiest builders, while QLD has the richest landscape gardeners.

Across all industries, the average tradesman earns $60.88 per hour.

“Like many industries it’s all about how complex the work is and where you work. Get a licence or learn a complex trade and you’ll be paid more.” said Jeremy Levitt, CEO of ServiceSeeking.com.au

These report figures are based on 52,000 quotes submitted through their website ServiceSeeking.com.au.

Tradie Rich List 2016

  • WA Plumbers make $87.67 per hour
  • WA Electricians earn $87.33 per hour
  • NSW Builders average $77.85 per hour
  • NSW Plumbers bring in $77.42 per hour
  • VIC Plumbers make $77.03 per hour
  • QLD Electricians earn $75.23 per hour
  • WA Builders make $71.52 per hour
  • QLD Landscapers make $70.57 per hour
  • VIC Electricians make $68.68 per hour
  • QLD Plumbers make $68.58 per hour

If that well-known saying – “work to live, don’t live to work” is true, then it’s important to be earning enough money to ensure that you can have a balanced life.

Having a working budget is a part of a well-balanced life, because it’s not the money that you earn that’s important; it’s what you do with it that counts.

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

How to remove at least one financial worry

In April 2016, I was sent some information that told me that Queensland has the highest number of “financial worriers” in the country.

According to the findings from the 2016 Money Survey, 49.8% of Queenslanders said they worry about their finances on a daily or weekly basis. By comparison, 42.9% of Australians said they worry about their finances regularly. 

The data showed that more than one third of Queenslanders are also “uncomfortable” with their current financial situation. Apart from job security, they all cited rising power costs to be their main anxiety.

These are interesting statistics. I’ve found that no matter where people live, or what jobs they have, there are not too many that don’t worry about the state of their finances. It seems that lots of people all over the country are most concerned with the fact that they have very little money put aside for a rainy day. They also have debt levels that they can’t seem to reduce significantly.

I’m always hearing that rising utility bills is one of the major financial worries. This is one area where you can alleviate the worry by simply setting up an easy-pay agreement with your utility company.

I would love to have a dollar for every time that somebody has said “why would I give them my money in advance, so that they can invest it and get richer”.

Have you ever heard of ‘user pays’? What that means is that you pay for the energy you use, as you use it. If you use electricity or gas for two weeks, then you pay for it. This is common sense. It’s the same as when you have used all the fuel in your car, you go to the service station and put fuel in. Then you pay for it. Simple – user pays.

I always feel a little smug when my electricity account arrives and I don’t have to pay.

There’s only one obvious reason for this and it’s not because the power company is being nice. It’s because every fortnight I pay $70 into that account. It equates to $5 per day.

Now, this $5 per day is not an imagined figure – it’s the real cost for the amount of electricity that I use every day. (actually it’s $4.87 but I’m not going to split hairs over 13 cents)

If you knew that it cost just $5 per day for the power that you’ve used, could you put that money aside?  Of course you could.  I can almost hear your response. But would you? Would you put that money aside every day/week/fortnight?

This would have to be the biggest way to remove bill-shock. If you set up an easy-pay system or put the money aside to cover your usage, then when your utility bill arrives there will be no nasty surprises.

There are 2 ways to calculate the daily or weekly cost of your electricity. You can work it out for yourself, or you can contact your supplier for the information.

Of course if you need any help in getting started; please don’t hesitate to call.

 

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

The 10 Hurdles of the Budget Race

  1. Doing an honest appraisal of your finances

  2. Admitting that things are not as good as they could be

  3. Making an appointment with somebody to get some help

  4. Setting a suitable budget

  5. Following the plan

  6. Cutting back on non-essential purchases

  7. Visiting the shops only once a week

  8. Setting up a savings account

  9. Resisting the urge to spend your savings on unnecessary items

  10. Having regular financial check-ups

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

Overcoming the budget hurdles

It’s August and if you hadn’t noticed –  Olympic Games fever is now upon us.

Many of us will spend hours watching the games – cheering or jeering, clapping or slapping. For most of us the closest we’ll ever get is by watching it on TV. We’ll never know the thrill of competing and winning an event of such magnitude.

We’ve decided to hold our own event – “Budget Hurdles”. If you’re not sure what this event entails, here’s the definition of the hurdles race from Wikipedia-

‘Ten hurdles are placed evenly spaced along a straight course of 110 meters. They are positioned so that they will fall over if bumped into by the runner. Fallen hurdles don’t count against runners, yet they have a significant pull-over weight which slows down the run.’

Sounds just like a budget, doesn’t it? But our course is longer than that – it goes for life.

There are many hurdles along the way, and there always seems to be something that might stop us from running the course of a budget, and being on track.

How many of us are aware that the hurdles we face will fall over if bumped against? How many of us get to a hurdle and just stop?

Beginning today, we challenge you to start this event. It may feel like it’s of Olympic proportions, but if you overcome all the hurdles you will definitely be a winner.

The money in your savings account will tell the story – Gold, Silver or Bronze. Only you can determine the outcome for certain!

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

Payday lenders begone!

I’m sure that many people have often heard me say – “I’d rather teach you how to budget properly than refer you to a payday lender”. And the reason that I say this is because too many times I see people who have been caught in a never-ending cycle of high interest loans that are no sooner repaid than they need to borrow again.

Wikipedia defines this practice as – “A payday loan (also called a payday advance, salary loan, payroll loan, small dollar loan, short term, or cash advance loan) is a small, short-term unsecured loan, “regardless of whether repayment of loans is linked to a borrower’s payday.”

Basically, the process involves a lender providing a short-term unsecured loan which is to be repaid at the borrower’s next payday.

In many cases these loans can carry fees that equate to annual interest rates of up to and more than 300 per cent. That’s a lot of extra money, for such a short term.

Oftentimes, it can seem too, that no sooner have you paid out this loan and its large interest fee on payday, than you’re running short again and so you need another loan. It can quickly become a vicious cycle.

If you’re in the habit of spending every cent that you earn, every week, then an unexpected or abnormally high bill can put your wallet under enormous pressure.

 If your credit limit is stretched to the maximum limits, and your family and friends are all broke – then where do you get the money from?

Just when you’re feeling desperate about your finances and looking for help on the internet, up pops an advertisement from an ‘instant saviour’ – the payday lending company.

You know the ones I mean – they advertise heavily on your television and across the internet. They have catchy names and advertising slogans; rabbits that lend money quickly or promises of getting your debt under control.

Well now Google has decided to ban these ads from their internet reach. You can read more about this here

Of course, the obvious solution is to not use these loan-makers. And I’m sure you’ll say that desperate times call for desperate actions. But seriously – it’s like throwing a punctured life-raft to a drowning person. No sooner does he scramble aboard, only to find himself sinking again in a very short space of time.

People who have a proper working budget will find that they are able to weather a financial storm much better than those who are unprepared.

If you don’t have a budget, then you know what to do – call me!

 

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

Budgeting for the future

From time to time I get asked about superannuation, investments and retirement funds.

Now this is not what Budget Bitch does. We just do budgets – planning of budgets; budget coaching and budgeting workshops. We write about budgeting, and we talk about budgeting. To put it simply – Our focus is just budgets.

However planning for the future is something that everybody needs to consider, particularly when organising a budget.

On Thursday 7th July – the ASFA (Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia) along with Money Magazine launched a campaign called SUPER BOOSTER DAY.

They state that only 7% of working Australians are currently making extra contributions towards their superannuation plan. What this means is that only 20% of Australians will be able to retire comfortably. The other 80% will need to rely totally on the government aged pension to fund their living expenses once they finish work.

And like it or not – there will come a day when we need to stop working.

It’s a scary thought.

Super Booster Day is a great idea to get working Australians to start thinking about putting aside some extra money now so as to be able to save tens of thousands of dollars later in life.

For many people this can seem all too hard. They tell me that their budget is too tight, or they don’t know what else they can do to can arrange some money to be put away for their future.

Perhaps some of these ideas could help you to save some money which will translate to thousands of dollars in later years –

  • One less glass of wine at the pub each week and you could boost your future wealth by over $364 each year
  • An extra meal at home each week and you could be putting away $1040 each year towards your retirement
  • Just one less beer at the pub each week could boost your future savings by over $260 per year
  • Reducing your Pay TV subscription by $20 per month will contribute $240 per year to your retirement. (Do you really watch all those channels every day?)

Just these simple suggestions alone could help to contribute almost $2,000 per year to your retirement fund.

Of course, it all comes down to making your future a priority in your budget. If you need some help with this – please give me a call.

You can make your Super Booster pledge today at http://www.superboosterday.com.au/ by September 15.

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

Inexpensive ideas for the holidays

School holidays can sometimes be a trial for parents. How to keep the young ones happy and entertained without spending a small fortune can often lead to sleepless nights.

For those of you who are a little short on cash and in need of some inexpensive entertainment to keep your family amused during the school holidays — let me help with just a few ideas:

~  A picnic in the park doesn’t cost much, just some sandwiches and drinks, with perhaps a Frisbee or a bat and ball for amusement;

~    A visit to the library — there are heaps of great things to do there. I’m not going to tell you what they are, go find out for yourself;

~   If you can’t afford the cheap cinema prices on Tuesdays, hire a DVD and snuggle up on the couch;

~  Kite-flying is great on a windy day. You can make them yourself and spend even less money;

~   Board games are a great investment and a lot of fun;

~   Rent toys instead of buying them, or join a toy library;

~  Go to the beach — one of the most wonderfully entertaining places in the world is absolutely free. You can get almost the same buzz from sitting on a river bank or a lake;

~  Plan a meal, invite your friends over and ask them not only to not only bring some of the ingredients, but ask them to help with the cooking as well. It’s a very social activity, and can be loads of fun. (Barbecues and salads in summer, one-pot meals in winter); and,

~   Organise a hand-me-down party with your friends and set a theme — kids’ clothes, kids’ toys, household goods (this is a party-plan with a difference).

 

So you see, you don’t need a lot of money to have a good time.

The reality is that you don’t need very much money at all and I’m sure that you could come up with at least another 10 good ideas that won’t cost a lot of money.

And besides let’s face it; much of the time “having a good time” is just a state of mind.

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

 

Are you ready for this?

How quickly the year flies! Already it’s the first week of June and we are almost halfway through 2016. It’s a great time of year to take stock of the promises we made to ourselves when the year had just started.

Are we on track to achieve what we wanted for this year? Are we making a little progress at least? Or have we not started as yet?

It’s also at this time of year that our thoughts turn to the shape of our finances. Are they shiny and bright like a crisp new apple? Or have they gone a little ‘pear-shaped’?

It doesn’t seem to be easy to make ends meet at the moment – Money doesn’t seem to stretch as far at the supermarket; car, health and household insurances have gone up again; the cost of living seems to be continually rising and of course – electricity prices have risen again this year.

It seems like our wallets are being attacked from all sides – I guess you don’t need anyone to remind you how tough it is at the moment.

The 30th of June marks the end of the current financial year. It is the time of year when we gather together all our paperwork and receipts in preparation for filing our tax return. It’s traditionally the time when a lot of financial decisions are made or re-evaluated.

For every person and/or household that has an income now is the time to assess your money and how you’re managing. If you have fallen behind in your savings plan – then now is the time to make amends. If you are falling behind in paying your bills when they are due – then now is the time to organise or re-organise your budget.

If you don’t know how to get things started or back on track then call us! The very worst thing you can do is to leave things till they are beyond repair.

The end of the financial year doesn’t have to mean the end of your financial focus.

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

How do you retire without struggling for money?

You’ve no doubt heard from a few financial commentators about the benefits of a ‘reverse mortgage’. And you’ve also possibly heard that “it’s a product with the potential to unlock the equity in your home, for people who are asset rich but cash poor”.

Let’s look at what a reverse mortgage is… 

Aimed directly at home owners who are over the age of 65, it’s an opportunity for the bank to give you a portion of money in return for the deeds of your home. You effectively re-mortgage your home, and the borrowings are capped at 20% of the value of your home.

Nothing needs to be repaid, however, until you either die or sell-up. The interest rate for this ‘loan’ is usually a little higher than home loan rates and starts building from day one. This generally means that the debt will more than double in 10 years.

It sounds like a great deal for people who want a share of luxuries in their retirement years. 

Having worked as a mortgage broker and organized a few of these loans, I’ve witnessed the smiles of pensioners who have taken this opportunity to use the equity in their home. For them, it’s meant that they can do some minor renovations to their home, take a holiday to an exotic location, or purchase a new car.

But, sadly, they usually return within two years – looking for more money. With the extra money gone, their life has reverted to a ‘struggle’ once again. The old age pension is merely just enough to cover the most basic of expenses and there is little spare for even small luxuries.

How do we stop this from happening?

It’s quite easy really – a simple household budget now (before you retire) can put some money into a savings account. That will help in the future. And for those who have already retired? A simple household budget will help take the ‘struggle’ out of meeting basic expenses and managing your money on a daily basis.

Of course, there are some instances where a ‘reverse mortgage’ might be appropriate, and there’s some great information available from the ASIC website. If you’re thinking this is something you’d like to investigate then it’s also very important that you get some advice suited to your own very personal circumstances by visiting a financial planner, accountant or financial advisor.

 

(c) Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

Just so that you know – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions, you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

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