Last Wednesday night was what we like to call ‘Budget Night’ in our household. Upon reflection, it’s actually very similar to the Government’s May budget night where ultimately we come up with a plan to increase our income and reduce expenses to create more cash flow surplus! Let’s face it, a budget is a budget – regardless of how you look at it.
Unlike the Government’s annual rendition, we like to try and do ours every 3 months or so to ensure we are staying on track and to factor in any changes in our circumstances. You would probably presume as a financial advisor I am in ultimate charge of family budget night; however, you would stand corrected. If anyone reading this happens to be related to a teacher or lives with one (I’m lucky enough to tick both boxes), you will know that they are VERY detailed and organised individuals – and don’t mind being in charge! Given I discuss cash flow planning and budgeting daily with my clients, I am more than happen to pass the buck on this one and let husband take over…especially given the immense joy he seems to get from organising an excel spreadsheet!
Our excel spreadsheet was our go to tool for budgeting, but as you can imagine, technology has now surpassed it and there are many great budgeting tools and apps now available – including Cashmaster which we offer through Think Big Money.
CashMaster links to your bank accounts and gives you live feeds of your transactions (all incoming and outgoings) and categorises these for you into things like groceries, dining out, fuel and one of my personal favourites – alcohol. I’ve found moving to Cashmaster that there are a lot of things that our good ol’ excel spreadsheet just didn’t cater for – such as my daily coffee (which by the way I refuse to give up), and the amount I spend on personal items like make-up. Wow, no wonder I can barely fit a damn thing in the bathroom vanity these days and I’m considered a VIP member of Mecca.
Getting back to our family budget, each time we do it we seem to find areas that we can tweak to ultimately increase our cash flow. This quarter for example we’ve done the following:
Reviewed our mobile phone plans
I was going over the limit each month so contacted my provider for a review and have saved $20 per month on my bill. Husband decided to keep his old handset which meant he could go on a cheaper plan of $50 per month down from $100 per month.
Total savings = $70 per month ($840 per annum)
Reviewed our energy provider
By switching to a provider that offers a substantial discount off your bill if you pay it on time, we can now receive a 30% discount off our electricity bill. Based on an average bill of $250 per quarter, this equates to a saving of around $75.
Total savings = $75 per quarter ($300 per annum)
Taking my own lunch to work
I work in a beautiful suburb where the array of cuisines and options for lunch are endless – however they also come with a nice price tag. On average, I was taking lunch to work 1 or 2 days a week, and eating out the rest. At an average cost of $15 per day, I was spending at least $45 per week on buying lunch – in addition to my daily coffee! As a result of now taking my lunch to work at least 4 days per week and eating out one day (treat yo-self Friday I’ve distinctively named it) I am now saving at least $30 per week on lunches.
Total savings = $130 per month ($1,560 per annum).
Just by reviewing our mobile phone plans and energy providers, and taking my lunch to work 4 days out of 5, we’ve found an extra $215 per month or $2,580 per annum to direct to our savings or onto our home loan as a result of our family budget night.
For more information on Cashmaster contact us or start using our budgeting tool so that we can help you to make a plan for the future.