5 Simple Strategies to Save and Plan for A Budget Holiday (That Doesn’t Involve Camping)

Are You Looking To Improve Your Financial Fitness? Here’s How A Financial Planner Will Help.

Are you dreaming of a healthier bank balance? Do you wish you had more control over your money but you’re not sure how to start? If you’re ready to trim the fat from your expenses and build a better bank balance – it might be time you partnered with a financial fitness trainer (the old people call them a ‘financial planner’).

Are You Making Your Money Work Hard For You?

So, full disclosure. I’m a financial planner – and if there’s one thing I hear time and again, it’s people expressing their desire to have more money, do more with the money they have, spend less, invest more, and plan for a more secure future. With the rising cost of living, can you be sure you’ll have enough superannuation to support the lifestyle you want when you retire? Will you ever be able to retire? Are you just going to sit back, wait, and see?

That’s what a good financial planner can do for you. Think of us like a personal trainer. You sign up to your local gym with the express desire to lose weight, gain muscle, eat better, and make better decisions about your health and well-being into the future.

Your personal trainer gives you a short-term program to establish your foundation, and over time with frequent weigh-ins, coaching, and emotional support, they guide you on your life-long journey to better health and fitness.

Why You Need A Long-Term Financial Plan

Financial planning and goal setting is a long-term strategy that is reviewed and modified over time. Like your personal trainer, a financial planner designs your financial fitness plan and:

Takes measurements

Reviews your current lifestyle, income, spending habits, expenses

Sets aspirational goals

Establishes your long-term goals and expectations for financial health and well-being

Introduces a realistic diet

Builds your financial foundation

Creates your training plan

Designs your cash-flow management strategy

Commits to ongoing weigh-ins and measurements

Keeps you accountable with regular check-ins and progress updates (but, we’re not into before and after photos – we’ll stick to graphs)

Why You Must Stop Yo-Yo Dieting With Your Financial Goals

Just like your fitness program, you must stick to your financial fitness program and you must remain accountable. Just like health and fitness, financial management is not a yo-yo diet situation – something missed one week cannot be made up by a day of fasting the following week.

It’s easy to come unstuck, fall off the wagon, and indulge in a weekend bender buying shoes, handbags, beer, and unnecessary tech gadgets. That’s why, just like a good personal trainer, a good financial planner will put together a realistic plan for you – a strategy that still allows you to have fun while you save and grow. A strategy that allows you to have your designer coffee or Sunday eggs benedict with the girlfriends – if that’s what you need to remain happy, focused, and committed to your financial goals.

Introducing an effective financial fitness plan helps you gain control of your spending habits and improves cash-flow management so you can build a healthier bank balance.

If you want to learn more about how we can improve your financial fitness, get in touch and book your free 60-minute consultation. It’ll be a life-changer.

30 Ways to Save in Your 30s

Regardless of the stage you’re at in life, you’re always striving to save for something. A house, a bigger house, an overseas holiday, or your own business. But, for a lot of young Aussies, they don’t know where to begin. What are the achievable steps you can take to keep more money in your pocket?

Try out these 30 ways to save and kick start your savings plan (I promise, you can keep drinking your coffee!)Audit your bank accounts.

Sounds like hard work, but it doesn’t have to be! There are many fee free transaction and savings accounts and you can apply for at the click of a button. Check out a comparison site, like Canstar, to find out the best offer for you. (Estimated savings $50+ per account/year.)

Audit your credit cards.

Low interest rate cards, fee free cards, and special balance transfer offers. Do your research and find a better deal than the one you signed up for when you were 18. (Estimated savings per year $100+ per card per year.)

Fee Free ATM transactions.

Even though we’re moving to a cashless society, people are still throwing away money on unnecessary ATM fees. These $2 ATM charges can really add up. You can:

Plan ahead and draw your money out only from your institution ATM

Find an institution that offers wide and free ATM transactions

Get cash out during your weekly grocery shop

(Estimated savings $104+ per year.)

Become more energy aware.

Get back to basics. Spend more time outside and less time in front of your TV and air conditioning. Turn the lights off when you’re not in the room. Keep your winter shower to 2 minutes or less. Simple things that make a difference.

Prepare more meals at home.

Buy more wholefoods and prep more of your weekly meals at home. Stop relying on takeaway foods for lunch and dinner which are usually loaded with salt and sugars – not to mention served in plastic. Do your health, environment, and wallet a favour here. (Estimated savings $50+ per week.)

Create a weekly budget.

The easiest way to track your money is to start a monthly budget. Seriously, open up Excel, and start logging your known expenses. Check out these tips on how to write one.

Pay your bills on time!

The added value in having a comprehensive weekly budget that tracks your known expenses is that you can stop being caught out at bill time. Stop wasting your money on overdue fees and start paying on time.

Moderate your entertainment expenses.

I get it – Game of Thrones is returning and you need to see it to keep up with the lunchroom conversations. Life is to be enjoyed, so I’m not saying cut out your entertainment expenses entirely. But, instead of signing up for everything – where are your opportunities to save?

Instead of $18.50 for premium, try $8.50 at a budget cinema (and hold the popcorn)

Instead of 1,000 channels on cable, try the budget SD Netflix subscription

It’s about balance. (Estimated savings $10+ per week.)

Take advantage of free events.

Council and government owned public spaces offer a lot of free events over the year. From free exercise classes, story time at the library, music, food, and street festivals – there’s something for everyone and they won’t cost a cent!

Reduce your vices.

This isn’t an assault on your daily coffee addiction…or, is it? If you’re used to having 2 mugs of coffee every day – start by reducing it to 1. Or, introduce a double shot espresso instead of a latte – you’ll pay less without the milk but still the same hit. Same goes for after work drinks – if you’re used to having 2 wines every evening, start by limiting it at 1. Or, try going a few days without any! (Estimated savings $60+ per week.)

Buy a coffee machine.

While we’re on it – stop buying coffees while you’re out! Buy a cheap machine and make your coffees at home. You’re also helping the environment by reducing the number of cups in landfill (Estimated savings $50+ per week.)

Use a shopping list app.

Never walk into a supermarket hungry and without a game plan. Download a shopping list app for your phone and only buy the things you need. Like, this free one, Out of Milk.

Buy in bulk.

Have you checked out Costco? There are many savings to be made on items you can buy in bulk. Toilet paper, detergent, baby wipes, nappies – stop buying week to week when you can save $$$ on bulk buys.

Stop buying bottled water.
By a BPA free, glass, or stainless-steel bottle and bottle your own water. Again – mother nature will love you. Plus – the instant hydration will keep you away from those nasty sugary soft drinks. (Estimated savings $21 per week).

Review your health insurance.

We’ve just gone through another fee rise – but, did you do anything about yours? It’s important you do your research with health insurance packages because sometimes you could be paying money for stuff you don’t need – and you’re not covered for what you do.

Spring clean and make a profit.

Give your house a spring clean and pull out all the items you no longer need. Three china dining sets for ‘special occasions’? Time to sell them. If you haven’t used something in the past 12 months, get rid of it.

Clean out your wardrobe, too.

If your clothes are spilling out of one wardrobe and quickly filling up your spare bedroom – it’s time to do an audit. Pull out the clothes you haven’t worn in the last 12 months (or at all) and list them on eBay. The longer you keep them, the less return you’ll get.

No impulse buys.

Approach new purchases with the minimalist view of life. Do I really need this? If it’s just about status or reputation – you can do without it.

Car pool.

Do you and your work buddies live close to each other? Set up a car pool and share the load.

Ditch the car.

I’ve suggested this one before. But, is it time you ditched your car entirely? Do you need to be a 2-car household? Do you live within 7km of the city centre and have access to frequent trains and buses? Save on insurance, maintenance, petrol, and parking.

Public transport instead of uber.

There should be another point in here – uber instead of cabs. And, then public transport instead of uber. Explore your options and plan your trips in advance so you can pay the least amount of money.

Cancel memberships you’re not using.

*cough* How often do you use that $120 per month gym pass? Despite all your hopes and dreams of winning the Australian body-building competition, you need to show up every day. If it’s being wasted – lose it (pun intended).

Remove your credit card numbers from your online accounts.

There was a point I remembered my credit card details and would drop it like it’s hot whenever I saw something I wanted to buy. Remove your details from online accounts (and stop saving them during new purchases) and force yourself to dig out your card and manually enter the details. It will give you a moment to reconsider whether you really need the purchase.

Use your local library.

My wife and I save a lot of money by using our local library to hire out books, DVDs, and movies. You need to book some stuff in advance – but it’s worth the savings!

Start a piggy bank!

This might bring back childhood memories, but having a visible piggy bank on your fridge will encourage you to use it. Make a commitment to empty all coins in it at the end of your day – or, like me, introduce the $5 note game. Every new $5 note goes in the bank.

Cash only lifestyle.

Now you have a written budget to track your expenses each month, you should know how much cash you have left over for unplanned purchases (coffees, cake, new scarf). Draw this out as cash, and live off the cash for the month. Watching your money disappear will help you spend wisely!

Buy on sale.

Only buy new clothes, accessories, and electronics when they’re on sale. Our retailers are on sale almost all year round now – and with the half yearly clearances due any day now – stop paying premium!

Stop paying premium.

For a lot of items, there really is no difference between generic and premium brands. Often, all you’re paying for is fancy packaging! So, for medicines, groceries, and essential items, try buying generic instead.

Host a night in with friends instead of going out.

You don’t need to be Noni Hazlehurst to put on a nice evening at home. Fire up the barbie and get everyone to BYO drinks and chill in the surrounds of a free and comfortable home.

Don’t spend your tax return.

Contentious, I know. But, with tax time just around the corner – the temptation to spend any returns is all too much for some. Instead of throwing it all on a new pair of shoes or celebratory night out, throw it into a high interest savings account and put it towards your house deposit. Better yet, if you already have a mortgage, throw it on your home loan to reduce your amount and pay less interest next time around.

Pick at least 5 things from this list

Yeah, it’s a list of 30 – but wouldn’t feel right without this last bonus tip. Pick a handful ideas from this list and put them into action today. You are guaranteed to save something – and something is better than nothing!

Let me know how you go!

 

What Is Minimalism And Can It Save You Money?

There is a movement taking place around the world – people are committing themselves to live a more purposeful, happier life with less. Minimalism isn’t a new thing – you can argue that Tyler Durden was an anti-consumerism minimalist when Fight Club came out in 1999!

But, thanks to the recent work of Joshua Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus – the minimalist life is gaining momentum as more people seek a happier and fulfilling debt-free existence.

What is minimalism?

Minimalism isn’t about living with nothing. But, it is about living with more purpose; being more deliberate in your decision-making and choosing to buy only the things you need.

Do you need to eat out every night of the week? Do you need a new pair of shoes every month? Do you need to buy that belt that matches your new handbag?

All this stuff is cluttering our lives. Minimalism is about re-calibrating and consciously moving against consumerism and the society-driven hunger to own more stuff. It’s a tool to help you find your freedom from the excesses of life.

What are the benefits of minimalism?

Minimalism helps you find freedom from stress, worry, guilt, and depression. There are many benefits in owning less, you:

  • Reduce debt
  • Buy less stuff
  • Save money
  • Eat healthier
  • Live happier
  • Spend your time and money more wisely.

How you can use the minimalism philosophy to save money

What’s interesting is that you don’t need to commit yourself fully to a minimalist life – but, you can certainly use the philosophy to generate some ideas to reduce the clutter in your life.

  1. Cook more meals at home. Plan your meals for the week, and only buy the food items you need to create the meals you’re eating. You’ll save money on snacks, take away, and food wastage.
  2. Trial a week without driving your car. Can you use public transport or get a lift to work with a colleague? Do you need your car to collect your groceries or, can you pick something up while you’re in town? You’ll save money on parking and petrol.
  3. Spring clean your wardrobe. Rifle through every item hanging up in your wardrobe and folded in your drawers. Pull out the clothes you haven’t worn in the last 12 months. Sell the good stuff on eBay or donate it to charity. Everything goes.
  4. Solemnly swear you will not buy any more clothes, technology, or accessories for the remainder of 2017. Seriously, do you really need a new iWatch? If you’re anything like my teenage daughters this will save millions!
  5. Quit your gym and exercise at home. With so many free circuits available on YouTube and Facebook – you can ditch the excessive gym fees and train at home.

You really don’t have to go full hog and force yourself into a strict life of 100 possessions or less. That doesn’t sound fun, and it’s not what minimalism is about. But, you can choose to live with intention and be a more deliberate consumer and decision-maker.

The value here is not just with saving you money, it’s also the effect less clutter and less stuff has on enhancing your health and happiness in life.

How are you choosing to do more with less? Please share your comments and ideas below!

 

 

 

Trying to save money? Maybe it’s time you ditched the car.

Car ownership is such a personal choice. Some are addicted to their car for the convenience it brings. For others, getting around town via train or Uber is less stressful and more practical than driving. But, if you’re looking at saving money for a holiday or to buy a home – ditching your car might be an effective cost-saving strategy.

Do we all really need our own car?

We love our car because it takes us from a to b. But, how often do we really need it?

During the week, most city workers use public transport to get to work – without the stress of traffic or the burden of premium parking fees. So, the car stays rugged up tight in the garage at home. Not being used.

We’re also seeing an increase in employers moving to flexible working arrangements – like, work from home and co-working. So, our need for a private car to get us to the office every day is reduced.

When you consider that living expenses and housing affordability are reaching crisis point – is it time we ditched the car?

Cost considerations for and against car ownership

Owning a car is expensive. From the moment you first jump behind the wheel, your car is losing value with each passing day – It could lose up to one third of its resale value in the first three years! But, there are other financial arguments for and against owning your own car.

Costs to consider when owning your own car

  1. soaring petrol prices / mileage
  2. increasing registration fees (Queensland has one of the highest registration costs of any Australian state).
  3. insurance premiums
  4. parking fees (city workers)
  5. annual servicing, repairs, and wear and tear.

Costs to consider when living without a car

  1. public transport costs, plus
    1. reliability and convenience of services
    2. reliance on services (peak travel, after-hours commute, personal safety)
  2. Uber fees – plus unpredictable surge pricing / peak demands. I once paid 2.3 x the normal amount because of peak demand… at 10.30am in the day, when it took less than 2 minutes for a driver to greet me at an inner-city suburb!
  3. casual car hire via Drivemycar.com.au ($30 / day inclusive), or Budget/Avis car hire ($50 / day inclusive)

Not to mention the limitations of convenience and flexibility and distance from work and essentials (shopping centres, take away, post office) that affect your ability to run errands and hunt and gather for sustenance!

Use these two lists to calculate your expenses for one month’s worth of travel, with and without a car. What works out cheaper for you?

Is your addiction to convenience warranted?

Chances are, if you’re an inner-city dweller or you live close enough to a reliable public transport service – ditching your car would be a solid money-saving strategy that gets you to your savings goal quickly.

If you need to save money fast and you’re still not ready to let go of your car, get in touch for a free financial consultation. I can assess your current financial situation and advise a savings strategy that builds your bank balance without you sacrificing the important stuff in life.

 

Why More People Are Choosing to Buy Local

Why More People Are Choosing to Buy Local (and How to Do It Without Blowing Your Budget)

A local produce market and café recently opened nearby; One of many popping up all over our great city. More and more, people are choosing to buy local, organic, sustainable produce. More and more, we become aware of our impact on our environment and local community.

It got me thinking – should everyone buy local? What are the benefits? And, can you afford to, or is this just a lifestyle choice for hipsters with a disposable income?

Why More People Are Choosing to Buy Local

People are starting to question where their food really comes from and the effect mass-produced products, pesticides, preservatives, and plastics has on our own health. These paddock-to-plate / eat clean / buy local philosophies tell an authentic story about your food and where it came from. You’re encouraged to reconnect with the land that so graciously provides for you.

Buying local provides many benefits to the economy, community, and to your own health.

Economic benefits when buying local:

  • Directly supporting local farmers, suppliers, and businesses means more revenue to reinvest in the local economy and/or their business. A more profitable business means jobs creation, increased supply of products, new products, and better equipment and processes. Long term, you’d expect this leads to a price reduction for consumers.
  • Money spent locally tends to circulate more often in the local economy. The farmer earns more money, so he buys more seeds, buys better equipment from the hardware store, pays more workers. The hardware store earns more money to spend locally; the workers earn more money to spend locally; and, so it continues.
  • There are increased opportunities for new businesses and partnerships, tourism, and wealth creation.

Community benefits when buying local:

  • Improved employment prospects for locals in the community.
  • Increased community morale and sense of purpose.
  • Stronger sense of connection to community. Paddock-to-plate. I know the story of the rib eye I’m about to sink my teeth into – where she began, what she ate, where she roamed, how she got to be in front of me today, satiating my hunger. You also build deeper relationships when you buy from people you know – for happy, warm, fuzzy feels.

Health benefits when buying local:

  • Better quality produce – fresher, tastier, and more nutrient dense because it hasn’t been frozen, picked too early, or travelled in a truck for the last 2 weeks.
  • Fewer preservatives and pesticides. Smaller, local operators may have less reliance on pesticides to manage crops. Presumably, the closer you live to your source of food, the less artificial additives you’re consuming.

How to buy local without blowing your budget

This all sounds well and good but, buying local can come with a heftier price tag than your national supermarket chain. But, consider that, on average, 18 cents from every supermarket dollar go to the grower. Eighty-two cents go to the unnecessary middlemen! So, it’s important to think about the long-term benefits, too.

There are ways you can buy local that won’t blow your budget –

  1. buy seasonal produce only, and
  2. consider signing up to a local food co-op that delivers local, fresh, seasonal produce.

Unfortunately, we have been programmed to expect instant gratification and on-demand products and services. Access to cheap imports has led us to believe fruit and veg are always available. But, foods are seasonal! So, learn to buy in season, and you’ll get fresher, tastier, cheaper food!

What are your money-saving strategies to buy local? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below!

 

10 Simple Ways to Save Money – That Adds Up

With living costs rising, and household budgets being put under more pressure. Do you seem to find it hard to get ahead? Well you are not the only one. For many Australian family just buying food every week seems to push the family stress levels higher. If this is you, it’s time to take a break for the money stress.  Download our book 10 Simple Ways to Save money (don’t worry it’s free), and start getting your financial life under control.

Click the book below.

10 Simple Ways to Save Money