It’s a topic none of us want to talk about, despite it being the great, big, noisy, neon elephant in the room. If there was a magic wand that would take away any responsibility of this topic, many of us would be lined up outside of Ollivanders to buy one immediately – but instead we look for ways to work our own kind of magic on this area of our lives.
What is it? MONEY. BUDGETING. SAVING. FINANCIAL FREEDOM.
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this, but I will share what has and hasn’t worked for us over the last 2 years, particularly related to travelling but some things can be helpful in other areas. Understand I am not an accountant or financial planner, so anything I share or suggest is at your own risk and responsibility.
I was a single mother with my first child and managed okay financially but really had no clear financial goals or knowledge, particularly as I moved out of home at 16yo and winged it for the most part. I had no financial sense at all. Years later when I met my husband, combined we had at least a portion of disposable income, that was truly wasted because we didn’t have a clear goal for what we could achieve with it. When my husband reached a time, he could access his superannuation fund (pension fund in other countries – and he was able to access his early), he was struggling with his health. For this reason, we chose travel and quality time together over a mortgage, and although we don’t regret it for a second, we know now that we could have utilised the funds for travel more efficiently. For example, our first trip to Europe for 7 weeks cost almost $50K for the four of us – ouch I know – but we didn’t want to spend any time worrying on that trip because of my husband’s health. Could I have done it cheaper? Yes. Did I have the knowledge to? No. It was our first overseas trip, and we learned A LOT.
Fast forward to now, and we are in the beginning stages of moving long term to England, so I can work as a nurse and see my nieces and nephews grow up. This means we need to get serious about our finances as we aim to save approximately $20K+ before we leave in December 2018. This is what we have done.
THE ENVELOPE BUDGET
The envelope budget is the brain child of Jordan Page – www.funcheaporfree.com – and has been the best thing I have ever done for our financial wellbeing so far. I have done an envelope budget before, however it was the one that requires you to take out all the cash you need and divide into different envelopes. Today this is just not practical as our lives become more and more electronic, so there had to be another way. The idea is that you have a family allocation for bills and non-negotiable expenses, you then have an envelope to keep tally each month (on a weekly schedule) how much you have left to spend out of your “food” and “other” budget – keeping these receipts in the envelope you write on. I encourage you to check it out, Jordan and her husband have so many great ideas.
Each week now on a Sunday we sit down and have a family meeting straight after our Sunday morning breakfast, and work out our meal plan for the following week. We work out exactly what we are going to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and ONLY buy what we need. It is far too easy to buy too much and waste it because it goes off. As per Jordan Pages advice, we also only shop ONCE per week, unless we need fresh bread. The benefit of this is that you don’t overspend – how many times have you ducked into the grocery store for one item and ended up with a full basket? Yes, I’m talking to you – and me! I have saved loads just from this tip alone, and it saves asking each other what they would like for dinner.
JOINT BANK ACCOUNTS – WITH SUB ACCOUNTS
Currently we have a plethora of bank accounts with a few different institutions, but only one joint account in a bank we don’t really like, so that had to be sorted once and for all. Today we went to Suncorp and spent 2 hours with Brad, my new favourite money man, who set us up and helped us make sense of budgeting and saving on fees. We set up one joint account and a few sub accounts; savings, direct debit bills, intermittent bills, and a slush fund. Honestly, we will probably set up a second savings account, so we have a general savings and emergency account, but for now this is enough. Suncorp set it up so that your savings is accessible by your direct debit account as a back-up, so you can avoid any overdraw fees should anything out of the ordinary occur. Over the coming weeks we will close our other accounts and have our income go into our new joint account – life will become so much more simple and civilised.
We are no different to anyone else really in that we also have debt, but we have really worked to get rid of it over the last few years. By May 2018 we expect that we will be completely debt free (including student loans), meaning we can save a significant sum of money to act as a buffer for overseas. Currently at the end of each week, we put all leftover money into savings, so it isn’t wasted on things we just don’t need.
MY TOP TIPS TO SAVE
- Know your money: what comes in, goes out, and what items you spend money on
- Simplify your banking: direct debit to savings or bills to ensure ‘wasted money’ doesn’t happen
- Have a goal: know what you want to use your money for in the future
- Consolidate your debt or pay things off quickly – easiest first builds confidence
- Don’t buy what you don’t absolutely need or cannot afford – if you’re not paying out your credit card each month you are putting yourself into further debt
- Explain your financial goals to your kids (without worrying them): if they know the goal they can understand the “no”
- Look for deals that save you money: if you are treating yourself to dinner out, find somewhere that kids eat free or 2 for 1 deals – save the extra money you would have spent
- YOU DON’T NEED A TRUCK LOAD OF COOKIES TO FEEL COMPLETE
I will continue to share any updates we have and how we are going with our budget plan. Check out our facebook page to keep up to date with any live feeds/you tube videos we make, and feel free to share your own budgeting tips for a life of travel.
Cheers from Queensland