Streamline your budget with these ten tips
While we are so ready to embrace the warm days of summer, we should also brace ourselves for the financial challenges that lie ahead. Streamlining your budget is a great place to start.
Here are 10 tips from Budget Insurance for reviving and refreshing your finances:
Update your income and expenses
By this time of year, many people will have received their annual increase. Have you adjusted your budget accordingly? If the last time you reviewed your budget was in January, consider the significant changes that have taken place since then, like the VAT increase and the numerous petrol price increases. An up-to-date budget gives you a good idea of where you need to save more, or where you now have a couple of rands free to pay off debt a bit faster.
Be smart with your spending
It’s not always easy to keep track of your spending, especially when making payments and purchases happens at the tap of a card or a click of the mouse. Luckily, advancements in technology have also made tracking your spending easy too. Take advantage are various budget planners and apps available like 22seven, MyFinancialLife, Spending Tracker.
Make some changes behind the wheel
There’s nothing you can do about the petrol price increase, but there are things you can do to help your tank go further. Did you know that at 110km/h your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at a more moderate 90km/h? Add to this: keeping a safe following distance, avoiding harsh braking and acceleration, and regular vehicle maintenance checks. All this can reduce your fuel spending significantly. According to the Department of Energy in the US, smart driving could increase your fuel economy by as much as 40%!
Update your insurance
Now’s the perfect time to ensure that your home contents insurance is up-to-date. If you’ve bought new items for your home, the amount you’re currently insured for may not be sufficient and you could be underinsured. On the flip side, some items may have devalued. You may have sold items or downsized and may want to reduce your home contents cover. This could save you a substantial amount of money.
Delete unnecessary and outdated fees
Are you paying subscription fees for magazines you don’t read? Membership fees for a gym you never go to? Fees for a bank account you no longer use? This is wasted money that could be going towards saving or paying off debt, so cancel these to free up extra cash.
Budget for debt repayments
From credit cards to store cards, it’s easy to get carried away buying on credit. Go through all your statements and pay off outstanding debts, or at least put a plan in place to do so. It’s a good idea to pay off debt with the highest interest rate first. So if you have a mortgage bond at an interest rate of 10%, a retail card at a rate of 20% and a personal loan at a rate of 25%, pay off the loan first.
Kick bad habits
From piling up paperwork and not keeping accurate records, to slacking on saving – we’ve all done it from time to time. However, when it becomes a habit, it’s time to take action and make a change. So wherever there are areas to improve, like brushing up on your admin skills or revisiting your saving goals, there’s something that each of us can do to improve our financial health.
Compromise and reprioritise
That pricey perfume, those designer sneakers, and those many meals out… They all add up and sometimes that leaves you making compromises where you shouldn’t. So to ensure you have enough money for the things you and your family need first, compromise on the things you want. Find a more affordable fragrance, do without the sneakers or have less meals out a month.
Reap from your rewards programmes
Many of us are part of loyalty programmes offered by entities from banks and supermarkets to healthcare providers. Understanding how to make the most out of these programmes is critical to really enjoying their benefits – from earning the most amount of points to receiving the highest possible discount or cash back. Read the terms and conditions and frequently asked questions on the relevant websites to ensure you know exactly how and when you should be rewarded.
Stick to your saving goals
Saving is hard, but it’s not impossible! There are many different ways to save. Anything from setting up a monthly debit order to an investment account and opening a tax-free savings account to increasing your pension fund contribution and requesting the 13th cheque option from your employer. It’s best to build savings into your budget as a non-negotiable monthly expense, which should help you to be more disciplined and save more.