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)

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)

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