How much have you forgotten?

Sometimes, when you open a paper or turn on a TV it seems that the whole world is in financial turmoil.  But we’re all feeling the pinch in some way – our incomes don’t seem to stretch as far as they once did.

Why has this happened? Is it because for so long we’ve lived in a world of ‘have it now and pay for it later’ that, amongst other things, we’ve forgotten how to be frugal?

What is ‘frugal’? Well, the Macquarie dictionary defines frugal as ‘economical in use or expenditure’ or ‘entailing little expense; costing little’. So let’s just break that down a little –

We’ve forgotten how to save water. How many loads of washing do you do each week? Is it really necessary to do that many? Do our clothes really get that dirty in a couple of hours – or have we just forgotten how to hang them up again. Is this something we can teach the younger members of our family?

We’ve forgotten how to save electricity. Are there lights on constantly in your house? What appliances are running all day inside or outside your house? Is it absolutely necessary to have them on all the time?

We’ve forgotten how to save on fuel. When was the last time you walked anywhere? How many times this week did you take the car / or drive to somewhere close enough for you, or your family, to walk to?

We’ve forgotten how to cook. How many take-away or pre-packaged meals have you had this week? How many times have you taken your lunch to work? How many times have you eaten out? It takes time to cook, and time equals money (we all know this), but if you’re spending all your money to avoid cooking (by getting others to prepare your food) – then the food budget may be a little out of kilter.

There are so many ways we can be frugal without dramatically changing our lifestyle, and these days there is no social stigma attached to the word ‘frugal’. It all comes back to that ‘B’ word (budget) and making sure that your lifestyle fits the income you earn.

While we can’t change the world situation we can make things better for ourselves and our families.

 

 

If you don’t know where to start – CALL us!

 

©  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 buy & keep your own home

How many times have we all heard that the great Aussie dream is to own your own home?

Over the past 60+ years, since the end of the Second World War, home ownership has been hailed as the best way to keep Australia safe; by owning your own piece of the country.

Unfortunately in today’s credit-driven society the purchase of a home has been put on the back burner for many people. Too often we hear stories of people who would like to buy, but can’t afford the price.

Buying your own home has always been affordable for those who are able to curb the desire to over-spend and who set their goals early before working towards the end result. Of course, managing your money realistically has a lot to do with attaining the outcome.

I get a little surprised however, by the young folk of today that live with their parents for 25+ years. They have a good income yet pay no living costs and don’t have any money saved towards a deposit for a home. It makes me wonder what on earth they spend all their money on.

Sadly, for some people the only hope of owning a home will depend on an inheritance from the generosity of their parents.

It makes me curious to know if they’ll continue to live in the family home until that time.

If you really want to buy and then keep your own home then the first thing to do when getting started is to organise a budget. But you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

 

©  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)

Keep your credit report in good order

If ever there was a time to get your budget organised, it’s now.

Australia’s credit reporting system has made some major changes and whilst many people would say it’s about time, how much do you know about your personal credit rating?

In the past, Australia used a negative data-reporting system. This meant that your credit report only included a narrow range of negative information – such as bankruptcies, defaults and any instances where you’ve been denied credit. They also included information about habitual ‘late payers’ of utility and other accounts.

In March of this year, legislative reforms brought Australia into line with other Western countries where positive credit scores are the norm.

Credit agencies will now consider new variables such as your payment history and they will also recognize and reward good credit behaviour. (You won’t get prizes, but you will have a record to show if you pay on time)

Currently there are three credit reporting agencies in Australia – Experian, Veda and Dun & Bradstreet.

As an individual, you have the right to request a free copy of your personal credit report every year by contacting any of these national credit reporting agencies. You can do it online and you’ll find their websites easily.

Once you submit the paperwork, credit reports are required to be provided within 10 days of the receipt of your request. If you want your report immediately, you may find that there is a charge involved.

Lots of people tell me that they couldn’t be bothered getting a copy of their personal report but there are good reasons for doing so.

Nowadays when online and personal fraud seems to be more prevalent, obtaining your credit report will help to prevent identity theft; you really can’t afford to be too blasé about this.

Your credit report will also confirm the accuracy of your credit history. Have you ever wondered if there’s a ‘black mark’ against your name? And if there is – did you ever wonder how it got there?

Under this new system, if you miss a loan payment by more than five days, your credit file will be given a black mark and your credit rating will deteriorate. However, it will also show how often you have made repayments on time.

Some of the things that your new credit report will show are:

  • Whether repayments have been made on time over a two-year period
  • If a repayment of over $150 is more than 60 days late, it will be listed as a default
  • The limit on the credit cards for which you have applied
  • The type of card for which you have applied
  • The date you opened a credit account, the type of account, and when it was closed
  • If, because of a default, you have entered into a new arrangement for repayments

What can you do to keep your report in good order?

  • Make sure that you pay a debt/loan on time. More than five days late and you’ll get a black mark.
  • Do your research for credit cards and store cards at a time when you don’t need them. It’s when you’re under pressure to pay for something quickly, that you get the worst deal.
  • If you’re having trouble covering your debt obligations, contact the lender to renegotiate your repayment terms.

Now, you might be thinking that you don’t need to worry about a credit report, but the very next time you apply for, or change a mortgage, a credit card or even a contract for your phone – you can be sure that a credit provider will be looking at your borrowing history.

Of course, sorting out your budget will assist in making sure you are never late in paying a bill, or defaulting on a loan; thus ensuring your credit report stays in good order.

 

 

©  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)

 

What would they think?

 

Today,  whilst thinking about two things that will happen this month, both Easter and ANZAC Day, I couldn’t help but reflect on the reasons for these spiritual celebrations.

In both cases we have good reason to look back and be not only thankful for those who came before us; but grateful to those who unselfishly put themselves on the line so that we can live our lives today in peace and freedom.

And then I began to wonder if they would understand the ways of the world today. What would they think about the changing times and values? Could they even comprehend our desire to ‘have it all at whatever cost’ when all we’re talking about are material possessions?

The important thing for them was the fight for basic rights for all of us – freedom and the protection of our way of life.

The important thing for us is….

Well, only you can answer that for yourself. But let me ask you this …. Did they fight so that we could destroy ourselves?

In 2015 we celebrated the centenary of the ANZACS. Perhaps whilst you’re enjoying the Easter break and the ANZAC holiday, you could spare a thought for those who went before.

Just as we’re proud of what they did for us, ask yourself if they’d be proud of what we’re doing today.

©  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)

Don’t Pay For Stuff You Don’t Need!

Review Your Health Insurance Options Regularly!

Do you know exactly what is covered on your health insurance policy? If not, now is a good time to remind yourself. Things may have changed since you first arranged the policy and you may find that you’re now paying for things that you don’t actually need. Unless you’re on a basic policy that has a lot of restrictions and exclusions, there is a good chance that you don’t actually need everything that’s currently included.

Why Review Your Cover?
You’re advised to look at your policy at least once a year to make sure that it still fits your needs. As you get older and move onto different life stages, you’ll usually find that your health insurance needs altering to reflect your changing needs. Removing anything that you don’t really need is an easy way to cut costs without skimping on cover. It doesn’t make sense to keep paying for obstetrics if you have no plans to have a family or if your child-bearing days are now behind you, for example. You may be able to just remove any options that you feel are now redundant (and to add anything that is now of greater concern) but this will not always be possible. If your health insurer doesn’t allow you to do this, it may be time to look around for a policy that better fits your new situation.

Drawbacks of Cheaper Health Insurance Policies
On the other hand, you may not be paying for things that you do actually need. This is a common scenario if you first arranged health insurance while you were young and healthy and don’t take the time to regularly review your cover now that you’re older. This can mean that you’re not covered for things that become more critical in later life, such as joint replacements and cardiac cover. Most of the cheaper policies that are aimed at the young and healthy rarely cover these features to keep premiums lower. Because they’re restrictive, you can expect to have out-of-pocket costs if you need anything that isn’t included on the policy.

No worries though – you can just arrange additional cover as and when you need it, right? Not necessarily. It’s often too late to do this as you need to take waiting periods into consideration. Many benefits have waiting periods of up to 12 months, so you need to arrange cover before it’s needed.

The Bottom Line
Not in the habit of regularly reviewing your health insurance to make sure that it’s still covering your needs? Time to change that! Look carefully at what is covered by your policy and check whether you’re paying for things that you’re not actually using. You’ll also want to think about whether you’re covered for things that are now becoming more important for your needs. If this review confirms that your health insurance is no longer as relevant as it once was, there’s no better time to examine your options. See if you can alter your existing policy to tailor it to your changing needs. If this isn’t possible, look around for a different policy that better fits your situation. Even if you’re otherwise happy with your health insurer, there’s no harm in shopping around to see if you can get the same cover cheaper elsewhere.

 

This article was written by Jonathan from http://healthinsurancecomparison.com.au. Compare health insurance policies and start saving today!

Why your budget should be your friend

 

What do we have to do to get you to realise that having a budget is not restrictive? It’s just a plan to make sure that the money you earn is used to its fullest capacity.

Of all the people we have seen over the years, not once have we ever told anybody that they ‘can’t have this’ or they ‘can’t have that’. 

Most times, when we sit down with people and have an open discussion about their hopes and dreams and their money – we find that they tell us what they need to do to achieve their goals.

And for many of these people, they tell later us that they find their new ‘money plan’ to be quite liberating. They also tell us that they can sleep at night again, and that they no longer dread the arrival of the postman; or sound of the phone ringing.

If you’re like most of our clients, you’ll not really have any money worries. You’ll be getting paid each week, and you’ll be managing to get all your bills paid on time. Sometimes you’ll have an unexpected expense, but you’ll be able to juggle things around to cover it.

But one day, something will “crop up” – like the dog needing extra veterinary care; or the car needing a major overhaul; or maybe the little maintenance job on the house becomes a major expense. Suddenly, you find you’re not able to juggle things around to cover the cost and you either can’t afford or don’t want another loan. The thought – ‘how am I going to pay for this?’ keeps going around and around in your head.

If you’re like most people you’ll wait till ‘one day’ happens before doing something about it.  But if you don’t like nasty surprises and you’d rather not be making money decisions under duress, then you’ll make some plans now.

Either way – you’ll need somebody to talk to. We’re only here to help.

 

 

 

©  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)

6 ways to make your budget work

 

Buy only what you need, and don’t hoard

Understand why you have a compulsion to spend, spend, spend

Don’t spend more than you earn

Get a money box and save a little; often

Enter every store with a list, & stick to it! That way you won’t overspend

Take it one week at a time, don’t try to predict the future

 

It all comes back to that one little word – BUDGET  (How hard can that 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)

How to get the things you want, now!

It’s great to be young, and working. While you’ve got a fabulous income turning up every week, you can buy everything you want

But one day, there will be something that you want and you can’t have it; unless of course, you’ve been putting some money aside for just this event. 

Usually it’s a ‘big-ticket’ item like a house or a fancy car that has a price tag over $40,000. And if you’ve been spending all your money each week, you just won’t be able to buy this thing that you believe to be a ‘must have’. 

Unfortunately for you, this is the time when you’ll need to prove to someone (usually the bank) that you do know how to save your money. 

Part of that proof is some hard copy evidence of savings. That means you must show the bank a real bank account where you have deposited a regular amount of money – and the money is still there! 

When it comes to proving to the bank that you have a good track record of being responsible with your money and can repay a loan – you actually have to show that you can and will keep a promise! 

For some young people, this time comes early in their lives, maybe between the ages of leaving school and turning 21. For others, it comes before they turn 30. 

And for the rest of the young people – well, if it comes after turning 35, then its better late than never. 

If ever there was a time to learn how to budget – it’s now!

You just never know when you’re going to want something that you don’t immediately have the money for.

 

©  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 decrease the cost of your lifestyle

If there’s a downturn in your personal economy, you may find that your wages are not large enough to cover your current lifestyle.

If this sounds like you then you may have  to start making lifestyle changes and adjust the way you spend your money.To help with those changes, here are a few tips to help you downsize your lifestyle:

1.  Start with an accurate account of your monthly spending. Make a list of what you spend your money on. Most of us think we know where our money is spent, but be prepared to be shocked when you see what we’ve spent on non-essential items.

2.  Review your food and beverage expenses. Eating out costs add up quickly. If you dine out once a week, at a restaurant, you’re more than likely spending at least $100-150 per month on this activity. Stopping at a fast food drive-thru 2-3 times a week can equal $100 or more by the end of the month.

3.  Do you buy snacks, chocolate bars or soft drinks when you stop to fuel your car? You’d be surprised at how quickly these items can add up. Instead, invest in a small cooler and water bottle. Get into the habit of planning ahead and taking drinks and snacks (or lunch) from home.

4.  Have a look in your wardrobe. Now is a good time to go through your clothes, shoes and accessories. Remove items that have not been worn in a year (excluding special occasion items). You’d be surprised at how many items have either never been worn, or haven’t been worn in a long time. Donating to a local charity is a good idea but doesn’t mean you can refill the cupboard once you’ve had a clean out. Consider this – if you liked the items well enough to buy them – perhaps you could wear them!

5.  Review your entertainment expenses. How much money do you spend  every week / month  going to the movies, buying new DVDs, video games, or CDs; going to clubs and pubs, or perhaps on crafts / hobbies? Consider some stay-at-home options. There’s a good chance that the people you usually go out with need to downsize their budgets too.

Perhaps host a movie or game night at home. Ask each person / family to bring one snack or beverage item. This is a lot of fun and can drastically reduce your monthly entertainment expenses. Taking turns with different families to host these events is a great idea.

6. Check your phone and internet service plans. Also, have a look at your pay-tv options.  If you don’t have a basic or “no-frills” plans, it’s likely there are a few add-ons you can do without. This will help to lower your monthly bills.

 

 

©  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)

Do you truly enjoy shopping?

Aaaahhh! Shopping!

What a loaded word that is. It means so many things to so many people. For some it’s the ultimate pleasure. Others find it to be a necessary evil.

The Macquarie dictionary defines shopping as “the act of someone who shops” and also as “to visit shops for purchasing or examining goods”.

There are people who find shopping to be a wonderful pastime. They can spend hours and hours browsing the shops, looking for who knows what. Many times they can’t remember what it is that sent them out to forage and hunt – they just do it. And all the while they’re enjoying the activity as much as the sports fan who likes to go to the football, or the bookworm who enjoys a visit to the library.

It makes me wonder why some people like to shop while others do not.

In many cases it’s the female of our species that seems to enjoy this pursuit as a pleasurable experience. Have a look around the shopping centre and count how many men are sitting on the seats reading a newspaper. They appear to be so patient, waiting for their female partner who is browsing the nearby stores. (Yes, yes, I can hear you saying – “if you only knew”)

I’m also curious about the belief that ‘women are born with a shopping gene’.

If that is really the case, then I surely missed out. My mother and sisters all love to ‘shop’ and their idea of a great ‘girls day out’ always includes some time at a shopping centre. And when they’re travelling – they make sure to visit all the shops, regardless of the fact that many of them are exactly the same as the ones at home.

You should have seen them when we went to Hong Kong! It was at that point in my life that I truly began to question if I had been adopted at birth. Surely I couldn’t have been related to these women who insisted on visiting every single shop that was there? I don’t think we missed any of them, and to top it off, we almost missed the plane home because I couldn’t get them out of the shops in the airport terminal. They shut the doors behind us as we clambered aboard the aircraft.

Regardless of whether you’re a ‘shopaholic’ or not – here’s a couple of tips from my book Money Tips from the Budget Bitch to give you something to think about when you’re next having a shopping trip –

 

1.      Don’t go shopping to cheer yourself up when you’re feeling miserable.

Yes, I know… all the self-help books tell you to “buy yourself something nice” when you’re feeling down in the dumps. Well goodness me – there must be thousands of people out there feeling miserable every day. How much more miserable will you feel when you see the credit card statement at the end of the month?

You don’t have to go shopping. There are plenty of other things you can do. Try taking a walk, riding a bike, flying a kite. Perhaps you could try reading a book, doing some gardening, or maybe even just talking to somebody.

“Getting out of the house” doesn’t mean you have to go shopping.

Make a list of all the things you would like to do, rather than all the things you would like to buy.

2.      Don’t use window-shopping as a regular form of entertainment.

This will leave you feeling dissatisfied with your life and all that you have. You will begin to ‘want more than you can afford’. Sure, it might not cost anything to window-shop at this point in time, but the long-term costs can be horrendous.

There are many other forms of entertainment that cost the same in the short term but which have much more positive long- term benefits.

 

Whatever you feel about shopping …. When it comes time for your next shopping trip –

I wish all you shopaholics a happy time and for the others like myself – happy endurance test!

©  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)

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