Face it, spending a few minutes doing fiscal planning, budgeting and continually improving your finances, cannot be seen as a waste of your time. If, however, you are a first timer and you can only relate to an unending financial winter, it is time to get your money situation back on track. You are not the first person having a tough time paying bills and seeing your debt spiral out of control. Don’t you think it is the time that you step-up and earn-up to the matter?
Winter time is full of opportunities to warm up your finances. Here are a few suggestions to jump-start your way to sunnier finances:
A is for ALWAYS & B is for BUDGET
It has been said a hundred times and yet most individuals complain about their sad financial position. The most important letter in the financial ABC is definitely B for BUDGET. It is the first step to becoming financially responsible. You have to use or create a monthly budget that specifically works for you. DebtSafe’s online template can be a good start or what about a useful phone app, and an old-school chart on the fridge door works just as well – use it and stick to it. You should also separate wants from needs and include your necessities as well as your monthly debts in your budget, like your house, phone, utility bill (necessities) and your credit card or clothing account (debt payments).
Never say “NEVER”
Don’t be too sure and think that an emergency cannot catch you off guard. A retrenchment, critical illness or an emergency can pop up overnight and without any financial preparations in place, can turn out quite devastating. An emergency fund in your financial planning is non-negotiable. A sufficient emergency fund needs to cover at least three to six months’ expenses. Avoid using your credit card for those ‘rainy days’ and set aside a certain percentage of your income every month. You won’t regret it.
Too much too soon
This tip is specifically aimed at the younger individuals. Starting a career and adult life straight out of college or university is exciting, but you don’t need to go haywire and have everything, from a toaster to buying a home, at once. This will only lead to uncontrollable debt and bills that need paying. Relax, take it step by step, adding the necessities first.
You are not going anywhere with your finances if you don’t try to save each month. Remember a few drops fill the bucket in the end. It is almost midyear and in the blink of an eye, the spring holiday and Christmas will be around the corner. Don’t be unreasonable with your expectations, start small. If you save R100 each week, starting from June, you can save up to almost R3000 for the family Christmas dinner.
Money-wise winter warmer tips
Wintertime does not have to be an excuse to use more electricity or water than is needed. Here are a few tips to help you save money:
• Prepare/cook a few meals at the same time. You’ll get the most of having the oven or stove turned on.
• One full load of washing once a week in the washing machine is better than two half-full loads per week.
• Use hot water flasks to avoid overusing the kettle and electricity.
• Remember, using a gas heater can be cheaper for your pocket than an electric heater.
• Do not keep the refrigerator door open for too long.
• Be aware of energy-hungry appliances like the dishwasher.
• Turn off all power outlets when not in use.
• Install low-energy light bulbs (LED) that use up to 80% less electricity than standard bulbs.
• Solar geysers are better than conventional geysers.
• Turn your geyser off when going away for a few days.
• Make sure that your geyser is properly insulated to prevent heat leaks.
• Do not waste water and don’t let the faucet drip.
• Shower instead of taking a bath.
• Use greywater for the garden.
Professional help is around every corner. Don’t be afraid to ask a financial planner, accountant or in over-indebted situations, a trusted debt counsellor for assistance. Getting out of difficult fiscal situations is more than possible. Make the choice to be money-wise and get the necessary help from skilled experts in the financial field. You may want to catch up on your reading and find that financial blogs, online sites, and portals can set you up for future victory over your finances as well.
Don’t think just because it is winter outside that your finances should also be left out in the cold. Become a good financial steward and take responsibility. The time is NOW.