I realised this week that I have had my head in the sand in one very important area of my life: my finances. I have spent Eve’s nap times this week writing a budget. It was a Radio National show about finance, love and money that spurred me on. Following the advice from the experts on the show and my financial advisor, I downloaded the Money Smart budget planner and set to work. My suspicion was confirmed – things aren’t pretty.
There is something both terrifying and exhilarating about facing up to brutal truths. After my initial panic I started looking for things to blame: the gender pay gap, employers who discriminate against women, the unavailability of child care, our rip-off retailers, to name just a few. However, little Eve’s choice of book to pull off my bookcase saved me from hours of self-inflicted agony. An Intelligent Life was my first introduction to the paradigm of taking 100% responsibility for situations and this quote from the blog Happy Cow summarises things beautifully:
“Whenever we claim responsibility, we immediately gain response-ability. If we blame and scapegoat, then we are voluntarily giving that ability away.” As the article explains, “Even if circumstances cannot be immediately changed, one can still take responsibility for one’s attitude… One can get miserable because that is what people ‘normally do’. Or one can courageously accept responsibility and in doing so gain the ability to respond with whatever emotions one chooses.”
With this in mind, I went through my completed budget planner with my partner looking for cuts and they weren’t hard to find. We now have a clear plan and I am feeling optimistic that we can fix this situation.
If you are like me and haven’t wanted to think about your finances, I urge you to breath deep and take a forensic look. The Money Smart budget planner makes the process really easy. I have shared the key elements of my money saving plan to give you some tips:
1. Focus all efforts on paying pay off ‘bad’ debts e.g. credit cards and car finance.
2. Change where I shop for groceries and note how much I spend and what the difference is. I am now using the TrackMySPEND app.
3. Shop online for groceries to avoid impulse buying. This means that I have to get a bit more organised with meal planning. The fabulous Planning With Kids blog is a great help.
3. Save energy at home. I have fitted some energy saving devices and I do a walk through of my apartment each night to make sure that all my gadgets are actually switched off rather than switched to standby.
4. When thinking about a major purchase, I have resolved to research the options and then sleep on it for a few nights.
What are your top tips? I want to learn from other mums who have gotten smart with their money.