I always get asked “what’s the best way to manage my money”?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, it really does come down to what works best for you. But I can share with you what works for me and why!
Challenge # 1
Actively managing your money without going crazy!
I used to have fancy spreadsheets forecasting my cash flow (that’s my inner accountant showing herself!) and I spent hours calculating what bills were coming in, when and how much to put aside, but:
- It was time consuming so I would often forget to do it, which would lead to….
- Spending the “extra” cash left each fortnight instead of saving it, meaning that…
- When the bills came in they would go on the credit card.
And the cycle continued, which meant our savings stayed at $0 and our credit card kept climbing.
Is this sounding familiar?
To get back on top of things I arranged for my bills to be paid by direct debit to align with my pay cycle. These days you can pay just about everything by direct debit. I also decided how much I wanted to save each pay cycle and arranged for my employer to automatically pay this amount into an online saving account that I wouldn’t touch.
With minimal effort on my part, I knew exactly how much money I had left for things like petrol, parking, groceries, clothes and dining out, and I was actually saving, rather than waiting to see what I had left over at the end of the month (which was always zero!)
Challenge # 2
Card v Cash
I’ve read plenty of articles that tell you to pay for things with cash because you’ll spend less, but what sends me over budget is the $5 spend here and the $10 spend there. I have no trouble handing over the cash for small items, but the trouble I did have was remembering where on earth my money went! Yesterday I had $50 in my wallet and now it’s gone – but where?
I started to pay for most things by EFTPOS – and I mean debit card not credit card! It’s really easy to take a look at my account and track exactly how much I am spending on the little incidentals.
Since I now know how much I have left in my account until the next pay day, for me this works just as effectively as having a maximum spend in my wallet.
Challenge # 3
The siren song of the credit card
The problem I had here was that my credit card came as part of our home loan package with a whopping $18,000 limit! And of course, the bank wouldn’t let us reduce the limit or close the credit card account because it came with our home loan.
I made sure the credit card wasn’t linked to any of my other accounts, and then I left it at home. Otherwise, chances are my day will go something like “I’ll pop it on the credit card, just this once.”
Side note: Have you ever noticed that the card you use to access your savings is called a ‘debit’ card and the card you use to get yourself into debt is called a ‘credit’ card. How is that for a little subliminal mind-play? Avoid the trap!
Now it’s your turn!
As I said, there is no one size fits all approach, you need to find your own groove. Whatever you do though, make sure to stick to these three principles:
- Have a way of tracking your spending easily
- Pay yourself first
- Avoid the credit card!
As always, I would love to hear about your experiences in the Women with Cents facebook group. What systems work for you? What have you tried that didn’t work so well? I look forward to chatting with you over there…
See you next week!
Your Brighter Financial Future Starts Today.
Founder of Women with Cents, Finance Fanatic and Proud Mummy
The information provided by Women with Cents is general in nature. It doesn’t take into account your objectives, personal financial situation or needs. Think of it as educational material in which to help you make more-informed decisions. We recommend you obtain financial, tax and credit advice specific to your situation before making any investments or financial decisions.
Sova Financial Pty Ltd Trading as Women with Cents (ABN 71 163 435 836) | Sova Financial is an authorised Credit Representative (443432) of Finsure Finance & Insurance Pty Ltd (ACL 384704, ABN 72 068 153 926) | Sova Financial is a corporate authorised representative (468977) of Shartru Wealth Management (AFSL 422409, ABN 46 158 536 871)