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12 painless tips to sort out your family finances

We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. Food and petrol prices are sky high and don’t even mention mortgage interest rates! So besides getting a side hustle, how can we make our family finances go further? Money Mentalist LYNDA MOORE’s 12 tips will get you on top of your finances for 2023, without feeling like you’re going without.

1. Know your numbers

Start here! You don’t know what is coming or going until you sit down and have a good look. You can do this on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet. Or get fancy and use an app like PocketSmith. Whatever works for you, make sure you track your spending and income over a few weeks, and do not forget monthly and yearly payments. This will give you a clear view of what 2023 will cost you as a family. From here you can make decisions for the year ahead. 

2. Decide, as a family, what’s important to you

Your values drive your purchasing decisions. Not a budget. If we used a rational mind, we wouldn’t spend more than we earn right? So know what your values are as a family. Do you like to travel together? You value creating memories. Do you like having savings? Then you value security. Making money plan decisions based on what each member values is a good place to start to have a harmonious and fuelling 2023. 

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3. Pick one treat

Pick something you really value and know that is your guilt-free pleasure each day, week, or month and no-one is to judge you for this purchase. Every member of the family gets to pick their treat purchase and this goes into the money plan. Be creative, you might not need money for your guilt-free treat every time.

4. Review household payments and double-check you have the best deal

Do you need all that data you first signed up for on your mobile plan? Or can you bundle the family onto a mobile plan and save? Can you now bundle your power, internet, and phone together for a saving? 

5. Take a close look at subscriptions

See if you have payments going out that you no longer need. For example, if you have a Neon subscription for Handmaid’s Tales, but you’ve watched the series and no longer need it. Cancelling this will save you over $150 a year. Check app subscriptions too – many have a seven-day free trial and then start charging you without you realising. These all add up. 

6. Beware that as a human with a heart, you spend emotionally

Many of us haven’t had the holiday we’d hoped for with the weather and Covid raging through families again. So we spend to make ourselves feel better. If you find yourself doing this, apply the 10-second rule. Pick up the item you want. Put it back down and turn around, count to 10, then decide do you really want it? Or do you just need a hug? For bigger ticket items, give yourself 24 hours!

7. Meal plan

Groceries can be the largest outgoing of a family. Have a plan for the week of what you’ll eat, shop to that plan, and don’t overbuy. Most people buy too much, cook too much, and then throw out up to 40 percent of their groceries each week. See throwing food out as throwing cash directly into the bin. If you are a gardener and grow some veggies, can you swap veggies for eggs?  Or swap some baking for veggies?

8. Review what you’re spending on pet food

Do they really know whether it’s organic beef or not? Most pets LOVE Whiskas and the cheaper brands. If you need to watch money, don’t let your pets eat better than you!

9. Cut back the travel bill

Petrol has been going up for years now, but our journey times haven’t been going down. Can you move to electric this year? If not, can you carpool, ride a bike or walk? What about trying to have car-free days? Really push yourself to be creative in living without a car. Think back to our parents who were predominantly one-car families. What lessons can we take from that? 

10. Know your money personality

We all have different ways we feel about money. Some like to hoard it, others are spenders and some are amassers. Is the right person looking after the money in your family? If you have a spender at the helm you might have trouble hitting savings goals! If you don’t know what your money personality is do the quiz here

11. Prepare for mortgage rate increases

If you have a mortgage that is going to come off a low fixed interest rate to a higher one at some point in the year, start preparing now! Work out what your new payment is going to be and with all the savings you’ll have made from points one to ten, add them to your mortgage payment now. That way when the payment does increase, you’ll have paid off a bit more principal and the increase won’t be quite as much of a shock.

12. Get advice from the right people

Not mates at the pub or your coffee group. Too often we take advice from well-meaning people on how to manage our money and what to spend it on without really thinking about seeking financial advice. Unfortunately over my 40 years of accounting and money mentoring I have seen many relationships get into strife by wanting what everyone else has and does rather than focusing on what’s important to them. 

Accountant Lynda Moore is the Money Mentalist coach and New Zealand’s only certified New Money Story® mentor. www.moneymentalist.com

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