Balancing the family budget is one of the toughest tasks for any household. So, finding and fixing financial leaks will make it so much easier.
It’s the great Australian squeeze: prices keep going up but wages growth isn’t keeping pace. No matter how tight a ship you try to run, there always seems to be one or two (or 10) expenses each month that catch you off guard and throw the budget into disarray.
After much trial and error, here are five of the biggest financial leaks in your budget we’ve found in our family budget over the years… and how we fix them.
1. Use your utilities wisely
The cost of electricity has more than doubled over the last decade. This means your power hungry appliances and any bad habits you’ve picked up are going to cost you.
To ensure this doesn’t become one of the financial leaks in your budget, you need to be energy conscious.
Turn off lights, heaters and air conditioners when they’re not being used. Cut down on energy hungry appliances like the dryer or dishwasher. And switch to efficient lighting and water products.
Try to think laterally as well. Cooking with the oven more in winter, or timing the toaster to use both slots each time can make a surprising difference to your energy costs over time.
Keeping gadgets on standby can be a real power drain too, so unplug them when they’re not in use.
2. Negotiate a better deal
Bills for services like electricity, gas, phone and internet are a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be savvy about minimising them.
Take control by getting to know the market and who’s offering the best deal, and look out for any discounts that are available. For example, some providers offer a bundle deal if you take out other services with them. Others give a discount if you pay on time each month.
Find out more here: 5 ways to negotiate a better deal and save plenty of money
3. Stop paying unnecessary fees
Financial fees can really eat up the budget, so it pays to get on top of your finances and make sure you’re not paying too much.
First up: Debt. Try to consolidate debts to reduce the interest you’re paying, take advantage of balance transfer cards to get on top of your credit cards, and don’t be afraid to use some of your savings to pay off debts. You’ll benefit in the long-run.
Second: Banking and Insurance. The financial services industry is incredibly competitive, which means it pays to shop around for the best deal on everything from bank accounts to mortgages to life insurance. And stop wasting money on bank fees!
Don’t forget about minimising your super fees, either, that’s your money too. Read more about that here.
Finally, make sure that you’re only paying for services you actually need. We’re always surprised by how many people fall into the trap of paying high fees for features they don’t end up using.
4. Switch up your groceries
We all have to eat three meals a day, so food is a great place to change your habits and save.
At the supermarket, you can save money but still get the same quality goods by buying generic brands or not shopping for everything at the big two supermarkets.
And you’ve heard it time and time again, but eating out is a huge waste of your resources compared to good old-fashioned home cooked meals.
5. Park your car
In our experience, owning a car can be one of the biggest holes in the budget.
There’s servicing costs, sky-high insurance and registration fees and maintenance each year. Plus petrol prices continue to rocket.
So be a smart driver. If you’re buying a new car, aim for one that’s economical and comes with a set price long-term servicing plan.
Squeeze a few more kilometers out of each tank by going easy on the gas. Try car pooling on your commute, or think using public transport or even riding a bike to work.
With these few habit changes and some mindfulness, you can plug any financial leaks in your budget and put your money to better use. Have a think about other money leaks that are draining your wealth drip by drip.