Disclaimer: This post is bought to you by Knowledge to Action
On Tuesday I wrote about the fact that I have decided not to go back to work now that I have finished my maternity leave. It's the first time in my adult life that I won't have any formal employment outside of the home and it's a scary prospect. I wrote -
Knowing that we are going to be living off one wage for an indefinite period has been daunting at times. But we've set ourselves up so that it doesn't have to be, and to make the financial side of things fairly easy to manage, as long as we are disciplined and stick to our budget.Financial discipline is not always easy, especially when you like bright & shiny things like I do, but there are a few simple things you can do to make life a little easier, whether you're living off one wage or two, and I thought I'd share some of the things that work for us.
There are so many places you can find financial information these days, especially in our internet age. There are dedicated websites that can give you an overview of your wealth, and most of the banks have pretty good websites these days with useful calculators and budget tips. You can also find out more information about good money habits from wealth creation training organisations like Knowledge To Action, or by clicking here.
As a Mum I think it's important to demonstrate good financial responsibility to the girls, and I hope that as they grow up, they can learn from Dave and I about managing their money and saving for the future. Dave and I weren’t always as responsible as we could have been so I’m hoping the girls will be able to learn from their parent’s mistakes!
Getting Savvy with your Finances
1. Have a separate account for billsBefore I went on maternity leave with Punky, I set up a separate Bill Account. I sat down with all of our bills and bank statements and worked out what we needed to pay for a full year. I then divided that amount by 52 weeks and set that sum to be transferred in to the Bill Account from Dave's salary every week.
I then set up all our direct debit bills to come out of that account. For other expenses, such as council rates, water rates and electricity, which are paid via BPay, I created a weekly payment schedule (via Internet Banking). Every week a small amount is automatically put on to those bills.
While it took a bit of work to get it all set up, it has been one of the best things I've ever done financially. I know that every bill is paid on or before it's due date. When the rates & utilities bills come in, they are always in credit by a small amount because I have been putting money on them every week. I can see at a glance what has and hasn't been paid, and I know that whatever is left in our joint account after the mortgage repayment comes out is what we have for groceries and petrol for the week.
2. Consolidate your debtsOne of the things that Dave and I did recently, that was the final step in being able to resign from work, was consolidating our debt. We were able to refinance our mortgage so that the credit card debt we had was absorbed in to it, meaning we are saving a bucket-load on interest!
Not having to make those repayments to the credit card every month means we have extra cash to put to good use. One way we have been doing that is by paying even more on to our mortgage, above and beyond the required repayments.
3. Make extra repayments on your mortgageWe make our mortgage repayments weekly for two reasons. The first is that Dave gets paid weekly. But even if he didn't, we would still pay it weekly, as paying weekly you actually save money on the interest you owe on the mortgage.
Couple that with the extra that we pay on top our usual weekly repayments, and we are steadily bringing down the total owed every single week. Every time interest rates go down I adjust the extra payment we make so that we pay the same every every week. We've been paying the same amount on to our mortgage for the last 3 years, irrespective of what the official rate and repayment is.
We also have a re-draw option, which means that when we have had an emergency we've had money available for us to re-draw. The re-draw amount builds up, and it also works against the interest on the loan.
4. Make & Take Your Own LunchWhile the two tips I've outlined above are pretty big things that can be done to help your financial situation, even something as simple as making and taking your own lunch to work and other outings can save you a bunch of money.
Dave is super disciplined when it comes to this, and spends a bit of time on his days off cooking and making all of the food he will need for his next 40 hours of work. He freezes everything in to portions (he even freezes his pre-made sandwiches!) and just pulls out what he will need the night before, then it's defrosted and ready to be heated by the time he goes on his break at work.
If I go out for the day with the girls I always try to make sure that I pack food from home for them. Not only does it save me money buying us lunch and snacks while we are out and about, but it means that I have something handy to be used as a stop-whinge aid should the need arise. I don't care what anyone says, but the quickest way to stop the sooks when we are out or travelling in the car is to hand over a bit of food. The whinging is stopped before it gets out of control!
5. Save for a rainy dayDave and I have a number of savings accounts. Each of the girls have one set up in their names that a couple of dollars go in to each week. We then have two other accounts, one for holidays and the other for child expenses. Every week I have a set amount that goes in to those accounts. It builds up throughout the year and it means that we have enough money to go on a holiday to the beach without having to worry about where the money will come from. I use the Child Expenses one to buy clothes and shoes for the girls as they grow out of stuff, and for buying Christmas and birthday presents.
Those accounts aren't touched very often, and it means that the money in there earns interest when it's not needed. It makes life a little easier knowing I have that money available when I need it, and I don't have to juggle around our day-to-day finances to buy Punky a new pair of shoes because she has grown out of all her other ones overnight!
That's just a few of the things we do to make life a little easier financially. I've never been really good at sticking to a strict budget, so these little things work for us and allow me to stay on top of things without feeling hugely restricted.
What tips and tricks do you use to stay on top of your household finances? Is there anything else you think we could be doing to make life a little easier when it comes to money? Do you think it's important to set a good financial example for your kids?
Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time to write this post for Knowledge to Action. As always all opinions expressed are my own. All of the information in this post is of a general nature and should not be taken as professional financial advice.
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