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)

How can I make my budget work?

Once you’ve made a start and organised a budget the toughest part is to stick to it.

And you have to stick to it for more than a couple of weeks.

Think about it – this is one of the greatest challenges you’ll ever have to face. Why? Because you’ll be changing some habits than you never thought you had; plus you’ll also have to row against the tide of ‘peer pressure’.

What habits? I hear you say with some amazement. Well – for starters, there’s the habit of swiping your plastic card without thinking about how much you’ve just spent.

Then of course there’s the habit of ‘just buying it anyway’ because you’d ‘really like it as a treat’.

Throw in a couple of shopping sprees for things you ‘just want’ rather than really need, add a few take-away meals each week and you have the makings of a short-lived budget.

Apart from the changes in the way you spend your money, you also have to cope with well-meaning family and friends who sabotage your plans to get your finances back in shape. They don’t mean to – but let’s face it – it’s not in their interests for you to blaze a trail in the savings account department. It might make them feel guilty about their own financial shape.

How to stay strong with all these adverse outside influences?

One of the first things you can do is to write your savings goal on a piece of paper, and then stick it where you will see it several times every day. This will remind you what you’re working towards, and why you’re doing it.

Get yourself a coach, or mentor; someone to give you encouragement when things get a little tough in the first few weeks.

Spend time with positive people, and others who are going the same path as you. Sharing the load is always beneficial.

If you don’t know how to get started or what to do next – give us a call!

We’re always available 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)

Do you need an attitude adjustment?

Do you realise that there are only 50 days till the end of the year?

That means there are 50 days to finish what you started this year and to complete the goals that you set for 2013. (You’ve also still got time to start and finish something before the year ends)

Of course most of you will consider that it’s way too early to think much about ‘New Years Resolutions’. But is it really? You see, now is the perfect time to begin the preparation for achieving greatness in 2014.

It’s too easy to just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind in an alcohol infused moment on New Years Eve. The hard part is not only having a plan to do what you say you’re going to – but to stick to it. (For some people the hardest part is remembering what they said on New Years Eve)

According to some polls more than 33% of the population resolves to pay off their credit cards each year. But with figures from the Reserve Bank showing that mortgage, credit card and personal loans are up 71% from just five years ago, one wonders how much of this will actually be repaid this year.

They’re also saying that personal debt now totals 100.4% of Australia’s annual GDP – one of the highest ratios in the developed world. That’s a lot of debt!

A ‘financial’ goal is a great way to start the New Year. But, like so many of the other ‘promises’ that you make to yourself it’s easier to say them than to keep them. It takes a daily dose of dedication to change things for the better so why not plan now, to improve the way you manage your money in 2014.

Perhaps it’s time to re-assess your attitude to New Year resolutions .

You’ve got  50 days left to take action.

©  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)

 

 

Is it bad manners to discuss money?

Somebody asked me this question recently – “is it bad manners to discuss money with people?”

Now, I know there’s a school of thought that says one shouldn’t ever discuss ‘sex, religion or politics’. Sometimes it would seem that the topic of money is included in that as well because it’s a topic that people just don’t talk about. It’s almost like a ‘social taboo’ and therein lays one of the problems that face our society.

Because nobody ‘talks’ about money there are many people that base their opinions and sometimes facts on assumptions and perceptions.

Which brings me to another point – if I had a dollar for every time that I’ve heard the expression “I’ve got wealthy friends” then I’m sure I’d be wealthy too.

Sadly, the fact of the matter is that we just don’t ever discuss money – not with our families and certainly not amongst our friends. What this leads to is that many people have no commonsense financial literacy and are therefore easy prey for all sorts of unscrupulous ‘get-rich-quick’ money deals.

For some people, the only time they ever hear anybody discussing money (and how to make it etc) is when they’ve been roped into one of those ‘retire early’ type seminars run by ‘spruikers’. And then, because these fast talking types appear to make sense ( and they would if you’d never heard this type of sale-pitch before) the poor innocents get caught up and are led along like lambs to the slaughter. They lose their money, their pride and any hope of an open discussion about money is now gone! 

Like many people, growing up in a family where there was not a lot of money meant that if we ever discussed the topic, it was probably more along the lines of how to make it, rather than how to save it or even how to manage it.

When times were tough, (and that was most of the time) the easy answer to a request for something was ‘No, I don’t have any money’. As a child, we learned to accept that response and we also learned the value of rare treats. Money was something that didn’t get squandered.

But, we didn’t really discuss money. 

When was the last time you sat around at a bbq and seriously talked about your mortgage, or the level of your debt?  You probably haven’t and you probably can’t imagine ever doing that. And right now, there’s a part of me that suddenly feels that I’ve just got myself taken off the invitation lists of all the upcoming parties.

Of course, there’s always a time and a place for a ‘money discussion’ and there are a lot of social events where it’s certainly not really a good idea to initiate such a debate.

But if you don’t ever have this conversation – then how the hell are you going to learn anything about the topic?

 

(c) 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)

Where’s the sisterhood?

We live in a time of paradox. We say one thing, yet we do another and one of the greatest paradoxes of our time is that of equality for women from women.

Let me explain….

This week, an older lady and I went to open a new bank account for a newly formed club. The bank we went to had a staff of three women. (no paradox there)

We filled out the appropriate forms, signed in the proper place and handed over the paperwork including our photo identification.

One of the forms asked us to state our occupation. My friend wrote ‘Home Duties’ because she has retired from the workforce. I wrote ‘self-employed’.

The bank employee then asked me to explain what I meant by ‘self-employed’. I thought it would have been obvious that it meant I worked for myself, but I duly explained that I was the managing director of a company.

That wasn’t good enough. I then had to explain what the company was called, what sort of business it conducted and how long it had been in operation.

Not a problem really – I love talking about the work that Budget Bitch does, and the results that it achieves.

But here’s the paradox – I had to account for my working life, in detail, yet my older friend did not.

When I realised that she wasn’t required to account for her Home Duties, I questioned the Bank employee why it was so important to know all about my work life. I was not to be the only signatory on the account.

The answer was simple – it’s what we’re required to ask of all applicants.

So I said – “I guess if I had just written Home Duties in the occupation section, I wouldn’t have been put through the 3rd degree about my business activities.” The bank employee agreed with me.

But she didn’t see the paradox – a female employee could blithely accept the activities of a female housewife, but not those of a female business woman.

Too often nowadays, I hear the cry that women trust women because we all belong to The Sisterhood.

I have no problem with the questioning of my business activities, but I don’t understand why the older lady was not put through the 3rd degree also.

Whilst it’s important to have equality between the sexes, it’s even more important to have it amongst the same gender.

Today, I felt like a 2nd class citizen in that bank. Where was the equality we hear so much about?

And therein lies the paradox.

 

©  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)

Reduce, Re-use and Re-cycle

Reducing the amount of money we spend means that there are lots of opportunities to reduce what we use.

Household products, like dishwashing detergent and shampoo are a good example. Cut them in half by adding a bit of water – they’ll still be effective and will last twice as long.

Reduce your water & energy usage by putting a timer in the shower, and turning down the hot water thermostat.

Reduce your clothing bill by half by only buying things you really love which fit and can be matched with 3 other items in your wardrobe.

Re-use

Re-using old items is an important start to reducing what we buy.

One of the first places to look is in the kitchen. Does your family we’re constantly throw out vegetables that have been too long neglected or get rid of leftovers?

Be conscious of what is in your fridge. At least one night a week, decide that you will cook only from the ingredients in your fridge and pantry. You’ll notice your grocery bill will go down, and you’ll have a bit of spare money in your wallet. And – you’ll find that you are avoiding unnecessary wastage. Check what’s looking ‘tired’ in your fridge and get creative. Curries and stir-fries are a great way to use a variety of ingredients.

Recycle

Nowadays it’s not just about saving the planet; it’s about saving the bank balance as well.

Recycle your veggie scraps into compost so that you don’t have unnecessary fertiliser costs.

Sell anything you no longer use on eBay or have a garage sale. You’ll be amazed at the amount of clutter than you can find to sell and the extra cash is always useful.

Keep disposable items to a minimum – cloth nappies can be washed; handkerchiefs are kinder to your nose than tissues.

Recycle old jars for pen-holders or keys; old wine bottles are great candle holders and old plastic bottles can be useful in the garden.

Reducing our lifestyle is important – not only for our finances but also the environment.

©   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 you say?

Once again, I’ve used my Facebook page to share the questions that I often have to face. With different people there are always different answers ….

Budget Dilemma: It’s the end of the week & there’s no money left. I haven’t given the kids any pocket money this month and I think they hate me. What do I do?

M.L. – Explain to them that the roof over their heads and the food in their belly is more important than toys this month

J.P. – Spending time with them is much better than spending money on them!

L.M. – My daughter is only 3 so haven’t had to deal with the whole pocket money issue; but I think it’s always best to be upfront with your kids and tell them the truth – money doesn’t grow on trees.

K.A. – Money does not grow on trees! My husband has been in and out of work for the last 2 years our kids understand that they get presents when we give them, not when they ask. I found it hard at first to say no. Now I just tell them before leaving for the day that today I only have money for food; so no presents today. Saying no is getting easier every day and my kids still love me. The best things in life are free.

M.M. – My kids are teenagers so I look at pocket money now almost like an employment contract and I explain it to them the same way.  I expect them to do a certain amount of work around the house and they expect me to value their time and effort. I pay pocket money when I get paid, not as an afterthought at the end of everything else.

D.S. – Give your kids rewards that are not financial…. a trip to the park or beach; a picnic; camping outside in the backyard or a home movie night with popcorn. (My kids are 5 & 6yo… so I’m thinking along that age… but you could have age appropriate rewards for older children)

 

Of course, some of these responses have been slightly edited and the defamatory & inflammatory ones have been deliberately left out.  (because none of us need a law-suit)

One thing is for sure – Variety is certainly the spice of life!

 

©   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)

 

Budget Dilemma

On my facebook page, I sometimes share the questions that I often have to face. The answers from the people who follow this page are interesting to say the least ….

Budget Dilemma: Mum & Dad loaned me $2000 for a new fridge. I also have a buy-now-pay-later loan for my TV. Which do I repay first?

L. C. –  TV; if mum and dad can wait.

H. R. –  Get rid of that buy-now-pay-later, possibly paying small regular amounts to Mum & Dad. When done, keep banking the repayments to build an emergency fund for replacing big appliances in the future.

K. B. – The fridge…. that’s what the money is for….

B. J. – $2000 for a fridge? Whatever happened to starting off with second-hand?

W.F. – If you still haven’t cleared the loan for your TV then you shouldn’t be spending $2000 on a fridge !!

M.B. –  Learn to live within a budget.

M. S. – Fridge. U need a fridge,  u don’t need a TV. Need vs Want

F.L. – You can pick up a new decent fridge for less than $1000, so talk to your parents. Maybe the other $1000 they are willing to loan will pay out the TV, then you will be left with 1 interest free loan

C.C. –  Pay the TV off first while making nominal payments to your parents. The TV sounds like it is on a card and once the “interest free” period is over, some of these cards have interest rates at like 30+% and some backdate to the day you bought it. The interest is phenomenal. These cards are handy as long as you pay it off on time.

 

Of course, some of these responses have been slightly edited and the defamatory & inflammatory ones have been deliberately left out.  (because none of us need a law-suit)

Variety is certainly the spice of life!

 

©   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 we boring?

Ya gotta laugh… recently somebody said to me – “I’m worried that you might be getting a little boring because all you seem to speak about is the need to have a budget”.

Helloooo!  That’s what we do – budgets. Purely and simply – we do budgets. That’s our job. Anything other than that would be crap.

And for anybody who has a business of their own they’ll know that the greatest trap of all is to try to be “all things to all men”. Doing that is a sure fire way of losing your focus and perspective. (to say nothing of your credibility)

If you went to the hairdresser and found that they were now selling bread (because everybody buys bread these days) would you think that’s what they should be doing?  Or would you worry that you’d end up with a crummy hair-do? (Pardon the pun)

Or, if your lawyer started doing massages, would you worry a little about his legal practice? Would you think that there might be a problem, with his legal advice? Sure he might be able to massage away any problem that you’re having but you do realise that’s in the metaphorical sense rather than literally, don’t you?

And by the same token – while you don’t ask your accountant about which television is the best to buy, neither should you listen to the salesman at Hardly  (k)Nowing who tells you that leasing a computer is claimable on your tax return; particularly if you are not self-employed but work for wages only. What does the technology salesman know about your tax return anyway?

So, if you think we’re a little boring – think again. The greatest thing we can do is to ‘stay on message’.

And if that means the only thing we talk about is having a budget, the benefits of a budget, and how we can set your budget on the right path – then be glad that we know what we’re talking about –

Because that means we’re the people that you should be talking to!

 

©  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)

Where’s the family home?

“We need to down-size”.

How often have you heard those words? Perhaps you’ve even thought them or said them out aloud.

Perhaps we get tired of all the clutter. You know the things we hang on to after the kids are gone; things that really belong to your children which they discarded long ago. The kids want to leave their childhood behind; their parents try to cling onto it.

In going back to being ‘just a couple’ we remove all that family clutter. Does that mean that the unit we move into can no longer be classed as the ‘family home’?

My parents started their married life in a house of just 10 squares. As the family grew, so did the house. It became impossible to sleep nine rapidly growing kids in two 3m x 3m rooms. So they added more bedrooms.

Because our father did shift work and needed to sleep during the day, our ‘living room’ was outside. We spent most of our waking hours there. The ‘study’ was the kitchen table and homework books were routinely cleared away for family meals.

And then, the kids started to leave home and it was no longer necessary to have a 6 bedroom house. Mum and Dad moved. They called it down-sizing but their new house was the same size as the old one.

It just didn’t have six bedrooms. It had four – but they still had a couple of kids living with them.

Living standards required that homes have more than one living area. The kids didn’t play outside any more; they ‘lived’ inside; in a different room to their parents.

Eventually the folks moved to a retirement village; just the two of them. Their unit is 10 squares. Dad says they’ve come full circle but that’s not quite right because this house has two bathrooms and no yard.

My mother often says to me – “you need to come home”. But she lives in the retirement village. I’ve never lived there; it has never been my home.

How do I tell them – the house that we all lived in is not my family home, it’s just the house I grew up in.

It’s their family home – the one where they brought all their kids home to, from the hospital; the one where they raised their kids and created their family. 

Its more than 35 years since I lived in a house with my parents and since that time there has been more than half a dozen houses that I’ve called home.

I have my own family now and as an adult it’s time to create my own family home.

My family home is not any particular building. It’s just a place where I feel that I belong; a place where I can feel comfortable with my family.

Where’s your family home?

 

©  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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