With all that has changed in our lives, a budget refresh could keep you on track financially.
Why your 2020 budget refresh will be your best yet
For many of us, our time in lockdown prompted us to embrace new habits and skills to get by during a time of uncertainty. You may have mastered the art of sourdough or planted your own veggie garden to prove your resilience, or simply challenged yourself to find the silver lining in what has been a tough time for most.
Bunkering down to protect the health and wellbeing of those we love has brought us together, tested our patience at times, and has also stretched us to be more resourceful.
As we shifted some of our priorities and adapted to our 'new normal' it’s a good time to ask some questions about household spending over this time.
What have you really missed? What have you learned to live without? As we look to the future and prepare for what lies ahead, it’s the perfect time to rethink your budget and what expenses really add value to your life.
A budget refresh will give you the opportunity to re-evaluate the expenses you no longer need or want, and take control of your financial future with confidence.
There are some great tools out there to help you get started, MoneyTalks is a great government platform that will help you refresh your budget and goals. Or you can use an app like Mint or Pocketbook to keep you on track.
To take your financial audit to the next level, we have compiled a few additional ideas which could help you save.
What have you cut back on during COVID-19 that doesn’t need to make a comeback?
Have you been making the most of the outdoors during isolation? Maybe you are even exercising more than normal, enjoying the opportunity to get outside. Consider if you are likely to keep this practise up as restrictions are lifted.
It could be a great time to renegotiate or review your sports or gym memberships, saving you money and ensuring you continue to reap the benefits of fresh air and vitamin D.
Other things you may have cut back on include entertainment or shopping. As we ease back into all the fun activities we use to love, consider setting a monthly allowance, or use a separate account to keep an eye on luxury buys and treats.
Food, glorious food
Food is often our biggest expense after paying rent or our mortgage. In New Zealand, a family of four spends $358 a week on food, so it’s worthwhile deep diving into where you can make more out of your meals.
Many of us mastered meal planning during isolation, to try and limit our trips to the shops. So why not consider continuing to meal plan as you return to your normal work schedule. Including a few easy options like slow cooker meals or four ingredient dishes can help keep the temptation of take away at bay.
If you invested in a coffee machine during isolation, keep that machine cranking. With the potential to save over $2,000 a year by continuing your caffeine addiction at home, you could be looking at a nice little savings fund instead.
Make sure you get good use of your coffee machine at home and potentially save thousands!
One area of your budget refresh that may be overlooked is your car usage and insurance.
If your work commute looks to be changing for good, either from working less hours or working from home, re-evaluating your car insurance could be a worthwhile step.
Many insurers offer discounts for driving less, or for having the car parked at home. During the COVID-19 period, it has been reported that insurance companies are set to save $35 million due to the reduction in collision claims, this saving could be passed on to the customer, so give your insurer a ring and see what they can do for you!
You should also re-work the petrol and servicing numbers, if you are filling up less, and are unlikely to hit those logbook services quickly, make sure you recalculate and put that money aside too.
Water and electricity
With most of us spending more time at home, it will come as no surprise when the next bill arrives it might be a little higher than normal. Ensuring your home is not wasting any unnecessary water and electricity will go a long way to easing your bill shock.
Make sure you draught-proof your home. Sealing up gaps and cracks to stop air leaking keeps the warm air inside and ensures that your house won’t have to work as hard to stay warm.
From only using heaters when you are in the room, to taking shorter showers and turning off the lights, there are many things you can do that will contribute to your bill.
For more comprehensive ways you can save with water and electricity check out our eco-friendly blog here.
Have you found the recent pandemic has motivated you to become more self-sufficient? This move to self-sufficiency could save you money.
From starting your own veggie patch, composting, making your own bread, or even cheese, embarking on self-sufficient practices will save you a lot in your newly refreshed budget. One kiwi woman is saving herself about $2,000 a year from the fruit and veg she grows in her backyard.
Now that’s a tasty saving!
As we adapt to our 'new normal', whatever changes you decide to make, looking into your budget every 3-6 months is a great practice to get into to stay on top of your financial future.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Resimac. The above is general commentary only and is not advice tailored to any individual’s financial situation. We recommend seeking advice from an insurance or finance professional before implementing changes relating to your finances.