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The Process of Money.
When I thought about writing about financial counselling and budgeting, as its January and many of you are realizing what you spent over Christmas and New Year, I suddenly felt like it is not the most popular topic! This is how most of us feel when faced with the reality of how much we are spending and our debt. The word budget makes us want to run away. Do you find that talking about how to spend money, rather than save it, is much more interesting? Christmas presents, holidays, clothes, new things for the house, cars, going out and having a good time. Why worry about how much we are spending? Let’s look though at how and why you spend more than you earn, except if you are on a low income, simply don’t have enough money to live on and just buy the basics anyway.
It’s true the cost of living has risen a lot and our salaries maybe are not worth so much. Yet, it is possible with some changes to really take control of your money situation, rather than just ignoring or avoiding it. The attitude we have towards money is often learnt from our parents and how they dealt with their finances. How to manage our money is not taught in schools, similar to how to have a good relationship and looking after our children. We are just expected to naturally somehow know how to do it all.
A Healthy Financial Life
Money is a process like anything else. It is an energy that we either make work well for us or against us.
Dealing with money needs to be learnt and practiced consistently to create a healthy financial life. Often some people are very causal about money, “easy come, easy go, or if they suddenly acquire money, they just spend it. Some people who earn upwards of $250,000 p.a still spend more than they earn by renting expensive houses, leasing expensive cars etc and continue to carry a huge amount of debt. Or one partner is a ‘spender’ and the other one a ‘saver’, which can cause relationship conflict.
There is a balance between just saving or just spending. Yes, we need to have some fun, yet we also need to have an eye on the future. We need to have some security in where we live and have some savings. Why? We need to have some savings in case we get sick or have an accident or lose our job. Research shows some people have only 3 months of money to live on, if those things happen and many live from pay cheque to pay cheque.
Here are some of the reasons we buy on impulse or find ourselves running up our credit cards;
- It’s fun and gives us a short term buzz and makes us feel happy for a brief period.
- Mainstream society continuously hypnotizes us through advertising, branding, TV, movies etc that if we spend money, we belong. We’ve ‘made it.’
- If we work hard all week and we don’t particularly enjoy our jobs, and even if we do, we spend to reward ourselves.
- We unconsciously want to keep up with our friends and colleagues.
- We live in hope that we can catch up on our credit card debt, with no real evidence over time.
- Some of us don’t really understand that once we are in credit card debt, we are just paying off the minimal capital, and the debt is growing because there is a high interest rate.
- People get trapped for years to clear their debt because they think they can’t, so “what the hell. May as well keep spending.” Then they add more credit cards because they are easy to obtain.
- We are unhappy in our life and get out of control around our spending on a consistent basis and then get addicted to it.
- Reduced income caused by divorce, change of job or unemployment, times of year like Christmas. This year Australians spent close to $100 billion dollars.
What is Financial Counselling?
Financial counselling is free, independent, confidential and without judgement. They can negotiate with your creditors and advocate for you. They can explain and help you to develop a budget. They can get help to consolidate your debts under one low interest rate so it’ll help pay off your debt quicker with free financial counselling.
Here are some suggestions to support you in dealing with your debts;
Make a plan and stick to it! If you can’t, work out why not and start again and again until you do. Think about all the good things that will come out of changing how you deal with money. Think of a goal you want to reach and let that motivate you. You can get lots of financial counselling but you have to put it into action.
Then you can make a budget but without feeling too deprived! Know what you are spending each day, write down absolutely everything. You may be surprised. Cut out what is not essential and then add in a few treats so its sustainable.
By just taking your lunch to work everyday and taking coffee in a coffee mug with you, you save save on average, over $50 a week. Cut down by a couple of alchololic drinks every time you go out and thats an extra $30 a week and have 1 healthy takeaway a week rather than 2 or 3. You already have approximately a spare $350 to $400. Keep 1 credit, cut up the rest and have a maximum of $1000- $2000on it so you can’t overspend in 1 shopping expedition. Yes, it’s tough but you this is serious business.
Take Control of Your Money
Pay your mortgage as quickly as possible and ask for an offset account. This reduces the interest you pay on your mortgage every month while you can still access your money. Join online deal sites and groups that bargain with eg. electricity companies, to bring the price down. Buy in bulk when you shop for food and buy when things are on ‘special’. Don’t be fooled by advertising. Research has shown that often more expensive things like women’s face cream have the same ingredients as cheaper ones. Buy at sale times and put presents away in the cupboard. Go online and find groups that exchange/swap/barter such as recycleaustralia.swapace.com
Make a decision and in a while, you will look back and thank yourself for it. If you struggle, see a financial counsellor and a Process therapist who can help you acheive your goals.
Here are some links for free financial counselling;