Oily Rag: Kiwis like to budget

By Frank, Muriel Newman

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One reader saves all small change in a jar, which adds up after a while.
One reader saves all small change in a jar, which adds up after a while.

A survey published a few months ago revealed some good and not so good news about the spending habits of the imaginary Mr and Ms Average Kiwi.

The not-so-good news is that about a third of us feel that dealing with money is a stressful business, but the good news is that about two-thirds of the respondents had a budget. Although the survey did not link the two results, it's probably fair to say that those who do budget are more in control of their money and are therefore less likely to get stressed about it. The simple answer for those who are stressed or have money problems is to start budgeting. It may be inconvenient, but it should be a reality for those who do not have infinite money.

Oily raggers are very creative when it comes to budgeting, so here are some of their suggestions.

Robyn from the Waikato uses a diary (a day to a page) for this. The opening bank balance is entered at the end of the day, each transaction is recorded, and the closing balance is calculated. "Keep all eftpos receipts until such time as this is done.

Don't forget automatic payments or cheques written. I paper clip each account that arrives in the page it is due - or sometimes at an earlier date."

L. Dustin from Oamaru says, "When my hubby and I were on a tight budget, we came up with the idea that we would not spend over $29 without receiving the other person's approval first. We usually gave permission when asked by the other, but it gave us time to think if we really needed the item before getting it ... a sanity check. We saved a lot of money in this way."

Tracy Smith says, "I calculate ALL bills for the year (including car warrants, regos, insurance, rates, power, phone, etc). I then divide the full yearly amount by 52 weeks, and deposit that amount to a bills account. I have all automatic payments and direct debits set up to come out of that bills account, so you always have the money to pay the bills and you know they will be paid on time."

Sande has a great idea to build up cash for occasions such as Christmas. "Save all change given to you at shops that is under $1. Our family of three adults has made this a habit. We use an old vase and all the 10, 20, and 50 cents pieces get dropped in after each shopping trip."

Mike writes, "As a volunteer budget adviser, I act as a free source of advice to many clients who are finding it difficult or impossible to make ends meet. There is not always an easy solution, but independent advice can often provide a solution. If the weekly budget is in deficit, there are only two possible solutions - either increase income or decrease spending.

"But there are many ways to achieve the right end result - why not talk it over before the debts become unmanageable? Just phone the local Budget Service - they are listed in the phone directory!"

The national body to which most budgeting services belong is the NZ Federation of Family Budgeting Services. Its website (www.familybudgeting.org.nz) says the federation has 60 member budgeting services, with more than 1700 staff.

Last year, more than 55,000 clients saw a federation budget adviser and more than 21,000 families were given ongoing support, education, and advice. "When they first came to see NZFFBS budget advisers, our clients had overdue debts [arrears] of well over $110,000,000," the federation says.

Do you have a favourite tip you would like to share? Send it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz or write to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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