Budgets! Ugh! Are we right?
But we’re well and truly into the new year so it’s a great time to start changing the way you handle your finances (and try to make them finally stick).
So we’ve come up with these 7 resolutions you can make to help shape up your finances in 2018 that might actually work!
Build a budget that you can actually stick to..
Budgets are a lot like diets. They’re tough to stick to and they usually don’t work unless you find one that suits you. And to get one that is the right fit you’ll have to put a bit of time looking into your 2017 spending habits.
First, use a budget planner to break your budget down, like this one. Now you have a clear map to assess what you spend money on and can start sorting them from most to least important.
What could you never live without? What are you willing to sacrifice? Place expenses alongside each other and battle them out..to the death!! For example, cinema tickets versus wine with the work colleagues. Perhaps you’ll realise that the movies help you relax and, to be honest, those weeknight hangovers are starting to take their toll.
Now everything’s in writing, you can shift things around feeling confident that it’s all accounted for. Tomorrow you might decide you really need a wine and you can cancel the cinema that month and suddenly you’ve got the skills of an organised accountant!
Our tip: don’t get down on yourself if your budget goes wrong initially. Instead, examine why it didn’t work and change your budget accordingly. Through this process you get to learn a lot about your values and priorities and you might just be surprised by how much of a self-awareness exercise this turns out to be.
Shape up your bills..
Bills are boring but they are a part of life. We don’t think about them until they are due and they just become a part of the slow routine of life that we rarely question.
But a shape up of your monthly bills can be a great way to get more out of your finances. Many people let things like their mobile plan, internet, electricity and other bills roll over without giving them much thought and they miss out on cheaper alternatives and huge discount opportunities.
Our tips will make you a haggle expert when it comes to your weekly bills:
- Read the fine print and find a deal that suits you. There’s no point paying extra money if it is for things you’ll never use. For instance: how much internet do you actually use on a monthly basis? Do you actually need an unlimited plan or do you just feel like you do?
- Do your research. Scan the cheapest options as well as what they offer. Find out what the competitors of your current provider are offering. Many competitors, particularly energy and internet providers, will offer a discount if you switch.
- Most companies will offer incentives if you bundle your products, but make sure they’re offering enticements that you’ll actually take advantage of.
- Before you agree to any deal, let your original provider know you’re thinking of leaving so they have the opportunity to price-match. We bet you’ll suddenly feel like the most popular kid in town!
Aim to have less stuff..
Everything we’re surrounded by creates the feeling that the more we have, the happier will be. From magazines to television and social media, we are in product heaven. But studies have proven that owning more stuff does not improve happiness and, in fact, it usually makes us miserable.
Enter minimalism, a new trend that has surfaced in response to the increasingly cluttered world we live in.
Courtney Carver, in her thought-provoking blog be more with less provides evidence to show that living with less creates space for more important things to enter your life. Next time you have the urge to buy something, question where that urge came from. Do you need it? Could you live without it?
Minimalism is good for the heart, good for the apartment, and especially good for the savings!
Money Money Money…Don’t just sing it, talk about it..
Over a quarter of Aussies have trouble talking about finances, according to a recent study. Money, like death, sex and Game of Thrones spoilers, has become a taboo subject that people shy away from. But conversing helps people learn as they talk through their problems and, also, discussing Game of Thrones theories is really fun!
When children aren’t exposed to conversations about finances it teaches them that it’s a subject to be avoided, and they end up being poorly educated on the topic or having to do double the amount of work to learn about the impact of managing money.
The more we talk about it, the more we learn about it, and the more we become motivated to find ways to improve our financial situation.
Be aware that money can be a source of shame for many people so approach the subject with sensitivity. Visit this site for some great tips on how to talk finances with the kids.
Money isn’t everything..
There’s nothing more annoying than being told to bring your lunch every day to save money. Thanks for the advice, “Jan from accounts”, but it’s not exactly rocket science. And you know what else, for some people going out for lunch with friends is the thing they look forward to most in a day.
Furthermore, we all have a tantrum-throwing inner child that does not respond well to discipline, especially when it comes to things like money. But what if you could increase your bargaining power by catering to your inner child’s deeper desires as well? For example, if you adopt some of the tips below you’re not only going to save money but you’re going to look great this summer. And Jan will be so jealous!
Get healthy, lose weight, improve your mental clarity and save money with the below ideas:
- Ride your bike to work and save around $40 per week on public transport fees.
- Cut back on booze, experience all of these benefits and save a fortune.
- Reduce processed sugar. If you need motivation, just read a list of all the reasons processed sugar is bad for you. If you traded a chocolate bar for an apple every day for a year you would save $547.50 (that’s not even including the dentist’s bills you avoided).
- Replace coffee with tea. If you did this with one coffee per day, you’d save around $1642.50 per year.
- Replace juice and soft drinks (see sugar-is-bad list) with water and lemon, make it fizzy if you have a Sodastream.
Other ideas that might help influence your inner child
- If the weather’s nice invite friends who work nearby to eat lunch with you at the local park. Sure, you’re bringing lunch (don’t tell Jan), but you’re also socialising and it’s easy to pack something cheap and healthy.
- Instead of purchasing a TV show or movie on iTunes, read a book. It’s better for the mind and costs less. Borrowing a book from the library costs you nothing! And before you ask..YES, libraries still exist!!
- Instead of going out for dinner to see friends, suggest a picnic in the park.
- If you have a friend that’s always keen to catch up for a weekly wine, suggest going for a seaside stroll together instead.
Find a hobby that will improve your finances..
Borrowing from the above idea of dual motivation, why not look to your passion to save or earn money? See! We told you budgeting could be fun!
Bake your own bread, brew your own beer, grow your own veggies, sew your own clothes, take on a DIY attitude and you’ll tune in to your creative flow while simultaneously saving loads.
This can be especially effective if you pair it with something that takes up a big part of your finances. If you’re a massive caffeine addict, then roasting your own beans will directly impact an area of your life you’re already spending money on.
But most importantly the savings involved are a byproduct of your hobby, instead of being the sole reason for it in the first place. It is much easy to keep up a New Year’s resolution if it’s something you enjoy doing.
Make happiness the most logical pursuit..
We humans are simple creatures. Strip us down to our bare essentials and you’ll find that we just want to be happy. As long as the basic things, like food, water, shelter, and security are looked after, the next thing on the list is usually just being happy.
Unfortunately, the modern world gives us confusing messages about what ‘being happy’ actually means. It seems strange to ask, but do you really know what the things are that make you happy?
Focussing on happiness over earning money or buying new things might not sound like a financial New Year’s resolution but it does a few things that impact the way you spend your resources:
- It leads to higher levels of satisfaction, lowering the impulse to spend money on things we don’t need when we’re bored or unhappy.
- It gives us greater perspective on what’s important in life, making it easier to follow through on some of the previous steps.
This is the hardest of our 7 tips to actually implement. ‘Finding happiness’ is not quite as straightforward as ‘building a budget’. But in our busy lives it is sometimes important to remember that the most effective changes we can make are sometimes the simplest.
Have you got any plans to change your finances in 2018? Let us know by posting in the comments below.
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