Everyone tells you to have a family budget. It’s good advice. Knowing where your money is coming from, and where it’s going to, is absolutely crucial to getting control of your finances and building wealth. Luckily, there are a couple of killer budgeting strategies which can transform everyone’s budget.
We know you’re busy and keeping your budget up to date can get tough to manage, but that’s never an excuse to neglect it. Something we’ve always done, and highly recommend to others, is to set aside time every month to work through our budget as a couple and make sure our money is under control.
It doesn’t have to take very long. Fifteen minutes is about right for us. Although you can always add a bottle of wine if you want to make things interesting.
The beauty is, once you’ve done the heavy lifting, a good budget will practically run itself. You’ll be on track to achieve your financial goals, and you can focus on enjoying life.
Here are 10 budgeting strategies that will revolutionise your next family finance meeting.
1. Negotiate everything
Whether it’s your bank accounts, insurance policies or even whitegoods, it pays to ask for a better deal.
Most retailers will have a good amount of wiggle room when it comes to pricing, so speak up before you get to the cash register. You never know if you never ask.
2. Cut your energy bills
Sometimes it’s the little things that can lead to the biggest savings, so one of the top budgeting strategies is to get your family to start forming good habits when it comes to using household energy.
Simple habits make a huge difference. Make sure lights and heaters are switched off when you leave the house, cut down on using the dryer and opting for warmer clothes instead of running the heater could massively cut your power bills this winter.
More strategies: 5 habits of highly effective money savers
3. Don’t automatically renew your insurance
It’s so easy to set these things to autopilot and get on with your life, but you could be saving yourself a small fortune if you play it smart.
Use online comparison tools to make sure you’re getting the very best deal for your circumstances. Some people tell me that it takes too much time to check. But say you spend two hours comparing insurance policies to save $300 on a premium, I reckon that’s time well spent.
If you pay your premium annually (which is always cheaper), that’s only one review a year for each policy you hold.
Of course, a disclaimer. If you do find a cheaper deal, make sure it still provides adequate cover for you and your family, because if it doesn’t, it could leave you worse off in the long run.
4. Weigh up the car
If you own a car, tally up the costs and consider whether you really need it. If you have more than one, could you get by on less?
Most cars spend the majority of their lives parked in a driveway somewhere, and if you can get rid of it you will save thousands on running costs, registration and insurance premiums each year.
5. Salary sacrifice
Take advantage of salary sacrificing and pay less tax. You can sacrifice for superannuation contributions, your car or even your phone.
Paying less tax while still paying for the things you need – or boost those retirement savings – is a great way to save money.
More on this: Planning for your future lifestyle today
6. Bring in more money
A second source of income is probably the one of the most effective budgeting strategies you can introduce. Having extra income will quickly help you get ahead when it comes to your budget. You can then decide whether this strategy is sustainable in the long term.
Everyone has a skill. If you’re a keen writer, can do odd jobs or even have a good voice for voiceovers, tapping into the freelance marketplace can earn you some extra cash in your spare time. Even 2 or 3 hours of extra work a week can make a big difference.
Turn that love of cooking or craft into a market stall.
Plenty of ideas here: 8 ways to earn extra cash
7. Automate everything
We all make mistakes from time to time. It’s part of being human. So when it comes to the process-driven side of your finances, let a robot worry about them.
Set up automated withdrawals for things like savings or bills that you know won’t change. While you should check regularly to make sure everything is as it should, it’s much quicker than paying the bill manually… and will be cheaper.
Make the most of sales
Chasing a bargain is forming the foundation of so many family budgets. A sale can be a great opportunity to snag a deal, but if you’re not careful it’s easy to get tricked into overspending… despite the discounts.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind.
8. Continue shopping around
It might look like a great deal, but chances are the item will be on sale at other retailers too, and sometimes be much cheaper.
Check out some other stores before you dish out your cash. Just because it’s ‘on sale’, doesn’t mean it’s the best price you can get.
9. Jump online
Like physical retailers, online stores will be looking to clear some stock after the financial year.
Online retailers will often have better deals and their goods will carry the same warranty and returns policies of their physical counterparts.
And if you can find a store offering free postage, even better.
10. Don’t go overboard
Just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean you need it.
Retailers will use these tactics to get you your money under the guise of a limited deal. Regardless of the cost, you still have to make sure the purchase fits into your budget.
And while it might seem like a good idea to stock up on cheap items, make sure they are long lasting and won’t go to waste.