Hello 2017: Resetting the family budget

Published on January 1, 2017 7:30 am, by

Goodbye Christmas, hello 2017.

For some January is typically a time of rest and recuperation. For others, it’s time to get back into the swing of things after a break. Fitness ramps up, the junk food gets cleared out, alcohol is limited and the budget is reset.

This makes January the perfect time to revisit the regular expenses we need to budget for, see what’s left to put towards our dreams, and set a realistic savings goal.

To truly succeed with a family budget, where there are two of you, you need to do this together. Having common goals and agreeing on spending is the best way to success. Depending on the age of your kids you may wish to include them in all or part of the conversation.

Here are 10 tips for setting yourself up for financial success in 2017:

#1 Understand your 2016 spending

Go into your spending reports. Understand where your money is going. You might like to check these categories –

  • Kids school – include uniforms, excursions, camps and fees as these are set expenses
  • Kids activities – include club fees, training and uniforms, coach gifts
  • Groceries – this category includes purchases like coffee beans and alcohol, you may wish to look further into the detail to understand the big impacts
  • Shopping
  • Fees and Charges – ATM fees, credit card interest, home loan interest & fees etc. are included here

#2 See what savings you can make this year

Once you have your spending information, see where you can make cuts.  Can you spend less on groceries or eating out?  Can you pay less for insurances, get a discount on your home loan rate, and negotiate with your gas and electricity provider for a better rate?

#3 Kids activities and schooling costs

Check kid’s uniforms, school fees and donations, and estimate the amount required for camps and excursions through the year.  It’s also a good time to rethink your kids’ activities.  Can they do activities more valuable for the money you are spending or the same activities for less?  Set a dollar limit for gifts for them and the birthday parties they’ll attend through the year.

#4 Have a goal  

Think about what you want to achieve with your money this year. Do you want to take a holiday? Save for a house deposit, a baby or a wedding? Do you want to pay extra off your mortgage? Think about how much money you will need to meet your financial goals.

#5 Align your commitments with your budget

 Take into consideration your goals and commit to making adjustments to your spending to eke out the extra you need to put towards meeting them.

You can make changes to your budget in Manage my Spending at any time. Check the amounts in there align to your expectations for this year. Where expenses will be higher or lower, make sure you record them.

If you haven’t already set up your budget, now’s the perfect time to do so!

#6 Debt repayment & savings first

Check that your money decisions are making financial sense. Paying 20% interest on your debt is crazy when you’re earning less than 3% on savings. If you have a credit card or other unsecured debt repay that before saving!

Set up automatic transfers from your transaction account (or your pay) to a debt or a savings account that is difficult to access.

#7 Banking Structure  

Make sure your banking structure suits your financial goals. Check Optimise my Banking for any recommendations that MoneyBrilliant has provided based on your connected accounts.

It’s great to have an account for spending, an account for bills & emergencies, and an additional account for savings.  Make sure that you find accounts with no or minimal fees to get the best value.  Savings are less accessible in an account without an ATM card that can only be transferred overnight.

#8 Credit Cards & Store cards

You only need one!  Review your credit cards, annual fees, interest rates and choose the best deal.  If you have high balances, consider a balance transfer and work towards one card.

#9 Make new spending habits

Are you going out to dinner? Go BYO. Do you buy 2 takeaway coffees a day? Switch to 1 strong one. Learn to say no to spending opportunities.

Do your friends want to go out to brekkie?  Move it to a park with a BBQ and give the kids freedom to run & be noisy and save yourself some $$. Put a spending limit on nights out.

#10 Commit to checking in 

Once you’ve updated (or set up) your budget and agreed on your goal and spending changes, set aside time to regularly to check in. Life has the habit of sending us off track and having a monthly catch up with your money will help you make adjustments to keep as close as possible to meeting your goals by the end of the year.

Related articles –
5 steps to start saving
Laziness is costing Aussies $11.6 billion
The top 10 ways we saved money in 2016

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Jen is an experienced banking professional who loves wine, coffee, finding a bargain and of course her three beautiful children. Since Jen's first budget led her to buy a home at 20, Jen has passionately helped others to make better decisions with their money.

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