The recent cost of living pressures means many of us are looking for ways to stay out of the red. Here are six budgeting ideas worth considering in the lead-up to the festive season:
Let’s start with the obvious. We’re talking rent and utilities at a minimum, but you also want to cover important dollars for things like groceries, fuel and any debt repayments. To reduce stress, set up a separate bank account where money for rent or other key bills like gas and electricity goes as soon as your income lands each week/fortnight/month.
Whether you’re a first-time or seasoned renter, a payment app like RentPay is a great way to manage money for your biggest non-negotiable - your rental payments. On top of helping you manage your rent, you can set up alerts and reminders, so you never miss a payment, sync your payday with your rental due date, and create a savings buffer to insulate you against unexpected events.
These expenses are the type that can blindside you. If you’re looking to avoid surprises on your credit card or dipping into your emergency fund, make sure you set aside enough cash to cover these costs. For example, things like car servicing, Christmas or insurance premiums. Typically you’ll know these are coming, even if you don’t know what they will cost you. A smart strategy to keep on top of these is to treat them like monthly ‘bills’ and put money aside regularly to cover them.
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But how much should you factor into your budgeting? Figure out when the bill or expense will come up and how many months that gives you to save for it.
Your annual car insurance costs $250, but it’s due in seven months. So, keep aside about $35 a month towards it. When it rolls around, you’ll have $250 sitting there waiting to do its job, and you’ll feel like a financial genius. Now you can pay it without a second thought.
RentPay’s bill smoothing feature is a great example of non-regular expenses in action. If you use Origin for your gas or electricity, you can pay your bill weekly, fortnightly or monthly through RentPay. Bill smoothing puts this significant household expense on autopilot, which helps make your energy costs more predictable and lowers the financial impact of any scary seasonal power usage. Win-win.
This is a smart way to help you stay on track with budgeting for the festive season. If you need to put away $50 a month to meet your Christmas budget for gifts, food or travel, treat it the same way you do your rent, electricity, and gas bills. You wouldn’t spend the money you intended for your rent on a night with friends, so if staying ahead over the holidays is key, the same rule should apply.
Consider setting up a scheduled payment, so the money automatically moves to your chosen account on payday. Alternatively, some banks now let you create personalised savings goals, which can be useful for putting money aside and removing temptation.
Cashback sites are considered a pretty clever way to shop these days. These sites offer a percentage back as cashback, or you might earn cash for purchasing certain items. Try Shopback or Cashrewards if you’ve got some serious spending to do (think Christmas gifts).
When you click their links and buy through the site, you’ll earn money back, which can help reduce your overall spending. Remember that cashback sites often take a few months to credit your cashback.
And that RentPay bill smoothing feature we just spoke about? It does something similar! RentPay bill smoothers who make payments towards their gas and electricity bills get $5 cashback into RentPay every week - that’s $260 a year! If you want this deal, check out RentPay today.
Shop around. Once you’ve found something you like, see if it’s cheaper elsewhere (factoring in shipping/driving to the store) before succumbing to that impulse buy. Plenty of sites will let you compare prices, so if you’re planning your gift-buying spree, research before you run to the shops.
It’s also worth checking to see if any voucher codes are available. Consider downloading a Google Chrome extension like Honey. This extension searches for discount codes online for that store and automatically applies them when you checkout.
Between cashback and discount codes, you might save a few dollars on your purchases, which could make all the difference to you staying on top of your Christmas budgeting and free up extra cash at what’s often an expensive time.
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If you’re a regular Coles or Woolies shopper, you’ve likely been building up reward points over the year through rewards programs like Flybuys or Woolworths Rewards. Admittedly, these don’t add up fast - but slow and steady wins the race. Christmas is an excellent opportunity to cash in those points and take advantage of any offers.
What other hacks would you add to this list? Leave us a comment below!