My financial story – confessions of a shopaholic at heart  | Melanie Wegener

My financial story - confessions of a shopaholic at heart | Melanie Wegener

I have a confession to make about my financial story. I haven’t always been good with money. In fact, I’m more of a collector and spender than minimalist and saver. It’s just who I am.

I realise that it’s a bit ironic that I have a page about being money savvy. For many financial bloggers or finfluencers, they are great with money. It’s who they are, it’s what they do.

But when you are struggling to manage your finances, do you want to learn from someone who is earning hundreds of thousands a year and a million in shares? Maybe. They are definitely inspiring. They know their stuff. It can also be a little intimidating. A little impossible to relate to because how could they even begin to understand the struggles you’re dealing with. The pull to spend money, to buy more, to have more stuff.

We can be our own worst enemy sometimes. We want to do better. We just don’t know how, or don’t know where to start. How to dig ourselves out of the hole that we’ve found ourselves in. How to earn more money so we’re not living week to week, pay to pay. It’s a stressful place to be.

I think it’s important to learn from the best, like Scott Pape, Canna Campbell, Lacey Filipich and Thomas J Stanley. I also think it’s important to learn from those who remind us of ourselves, the Becky Bloomwood’s of the world who can’t help but grab a bargain.

Here’s my financial story. I hope it gives a little insight into Mel, the girl behind moneysavvymamma❤️.

I’ve always enjoyed shopping & getting a bargain. I was drawn to the clearance racks and the outlet stores. I’d buy things because they were on sale but not necessarily because I needed them. I was a keen op shopper (thrift stores) and loved sifting through the racks to find a gem. Although I got some great deals, I ended up with too many clothes.

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Not all fitted perfectly or looked that good. I wouldn’t always wear them and they would end up donated again. I found it hard to justify spending lots of money to buy quality items. This was partly because we grew up without much money, but also partly because I wasn’t on a big wage myself.

My first time earning money was babysitting neighbours kids. It was good fun and I felt responsible. I got my first part time job at 15. (Side note, I worked at a bakery for six years before realising I was allergic to flour. True story.) I loved the feeling of receiving a payslip and seeing money go into my bank account. I didn’t do many hours though and was often broke before payday. I still remember my account going into debit and being charged a $39 fee. Oh how cruel that was.

I was brought up to believe that credit cards were dangerous so I never opened one. I made sure to pay of items in cash, and for that I am grateful. When I was 16, I saw an ad on TV about childhood poverty. I was moved and started sponsoring a child through World Vision. I had a heart for those doing it tough and gave lots away to charity. At one point it was a third of my income.

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I tried hard to save. At 17 I bought my first car for $2700. My late grandparents had put aside $1000 for each grandchild towards a car and for this I was so grateful. It was a 1985 Honda Civic. I saw it on the side of the road, pulled over to scribble down the phone number, and raced home to tell my dad.

He asked me what make it was. I had no idea. What model? Who knows. Auto or manual? I dunno. I did tell him that it was white and I could afford it and could we please give them a call. To my disgust it was a manual so I was no longer interested.

My dad gently encouraged me that he would teach me, so I decided that’s what I’d do. Lots of rabbit hopping around the block and practice in empty shopping centre carparks on a Sunday (showing my age now), and we got there. I was incredibly proud to have bought my own car and went on to keep it for five years.

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Growing up, I saw wealth as a negative thing. I thought investing was for the old & rich. It was something white guys did on Wall Street. By what I saw on the finance segment on the news, it seemed utterly confusing and boring. Buying shares or investment properties wasn’t on my radar. It wasn’t what my family did so I wouldn’t do it either. Keep it simple, save, buy a house, retire.

After school I went to uni, took a year off to aupair in country England, came back to graduate and got a job. I fell in love with a wonderful man and got married. We’re still in love and very happy.

A few years ago, I saw a friend’s post in a Dave Ramsey discussion group on Facebook. I was intrigued so joined and started reading other posts. I bought Dave’s book ‘Total Money Makeover’ and the concepts made sense.

He’s got a lot to answer for with the way he speaks to people and and the way he treats his staff. He’s lost some fans in recent times. However I am grateful for how some of his ideas helped to switch my thinking about finances.

I asked my hubby to read it. He was interested in some of the concepts. We read The Barefoot Investor. together and began making changes with our money. We had always been intentional to avoid debt and only buy a house that we could afford, rather than what the bank would lend us.

We had paid off our uni debts and hubby’s car loan as soon as we could and had no other debt except the mortgage. The idea of shares was a foreign one to us so we started listening to podcasts like Captain Fi, We Talk Cents, The Joyful Frugalista & Sugar Mamma’s FirePlay to learn more.

We saved up an emergency fund in our mortgage offset account. This could be accessed if needed, but otherwise helped pay less interest. We set up sinking funds to save up for various things such as holidays, Christmas, renovations, furniture, appliances and shares. We met with a lawyer to create a will. We ensured that we had income protection and death & total disability insurance, and increased how much we were covered for.

I began decluttering and minimising what I had. I was so inspired by The Minimal Mom , Sugar Mamma , Messy Minimalism, Minimalish and Minimalist Moms to get rid of excess. I sold thousands of dollars of stuff, including $1300 on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree to surprise hubby with AFL Grand Final tickets. It was amazing the difference that owning less had in my life and on my mental health. Less clutter meant more calm. I finally had space to be creative in other ways.

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I started only buying things that I needed and loved. When something entered our house, I made an effort to sell or donate an item out. We opened seperate savings accounts and automated an amount each pay into them. This enabled us to spend how we like and not have to justify why we wanted to buy something. It’s been a good move.

In 2020, I started an Instagram account to document my financial journey. I thought I was doing okay with money and thought I had some tips to share with people. That’s when I discovered the #debtfreecommunity and the #FIREcommunity. I suddenly realised how little I knew and felt intimidated. I almost deleted my account several times because I felt I had nothing to give.

I was encouraged by a number of women, especially mothers, to keep posting. They liked that I was relatable and didn’t pretend to know it all. They liked having someone who earned a normal income, who was taking time off work to raise children and had to make it work with less money. They liked following someone who was new to the idea of shares and was figuring it out along the way.

Now that I know better, I keep striving to do better. I started dabbling in some side hustles. It was in the middle of the pandemic so things had slowed down, making room for more opportunities to earn money online. I took a baby step and started investing this extra cash.

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It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. In fact, it was surprisingly easy. Even fun. It was like shopping for shares! I set up automated investing from our income. I bought a tiny amount in crypto just to see what all the fuss was about.

I have a long way to go and lots more to learn. I follow some amazing people on Instagram and continue to learn via Podcasts and YouTube. I’m proud of my financial journey so far.

I’ve learnt that there is always more to learn. I’ve learnt that just because you grew up without money doesn’t mean you can’t change your future. I’ve learnt that investing isn’t hard or scary or for old men. I’ve learnt that if you don’t put aside money for savings or investing as soon as it comes in, you’ll probably spend it. I’ve learnt that you can do much more on social media than mindless scrolling.

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I’ve learnt that there’s an amazing community on here that has inspired and taught me so much, and for that I am incredibly grateful. ❤️

Know that I’m nothing special.

Know that I’m far from perfect.

Know that I’m not the world’s best saver.

Know that I just have a heart to do the best for our family in our season.

I’m realising more and more that money and minimalism and motherhood are so closely intertwined. When you start reducing what you have, you can save more money, and this reduces the overwhelm as a parent.

You won’t find just money stuff on here, mainly because I’m not trained and it’s not my only passion. My page is a mixture of all three, along with my desire to get outside everyday, continue to get fit and exercise, and take steps to prioritise my friendships and marriage. I’m a happier woman, wife and mum when I take care of myself.

Thankful for this wonderful community of people for giving me a small platform to share my thoughts, ideas and learnings. I do appreciate you all.❤️

I’d love to hear about your financial story – what has been your experience? 

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

With energy prices going through the roof right now and cold weather well and truly upon us, it is important to think about how we can keep warm in winter. No one wants to choose between putting food on the table or putting the heater on. We all deserve adequate comfort in our homes when the temperature drops.

Whilst I cannot lower energy prices for you or magically pay your bill, there are some simple things you can do to keep your house warmer and your usage within check. When you’re at home in winter, try to keep warm using good old fashioned methods before turning on the heater.

Wood fire

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

A wood fire is a wonderful way to feel cozy and keep warm in winter. The fireplace clip on the TV just isn’t the same. For those of you with a wood fire in your home, try to source firewood out of season. There may be more available and you might be able to get it at a better price. Turn on alerts for Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree for free firewood as some people just want to get rid of excess on their property (be careful of white ants when you bring wood home).

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Some will be free because it needs to dry out for a year or so, which is fine if you have place to store it out of the weather. If you need to buy some, a trailer load is often cheaper than buying a bag. Do your research because some companies and individuals charge a lot more than others.

Maintain your fireplace well by employing a chimney sweep to clean it out or buy the necessary tools yourself. This can reduce ash and charcoal build up inside as well as excess smoke, and helps it to run more economically.

Choose a heater wisely

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

One of the most important ways to keep energy costs down in winter is by choosing an energy smart heater. Electric heaters can be cheaper to buy but more expensive to run. Column heaters take a while to heat up but are energy efficient. Gas heaters can be more expensive to buy but cheaper to run. Ensure that gas heaters have appropriate ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Both Choice and Finder have done some testing around the best types of heaters to buy and calculations about their usage costs. Decide if you need to heat the whole house or just your main living area. This can help you choose which heater will best suit your needs.

Seal off any draughts

The last thing you want to do is pay for heating, only for it to escape out of your house. Close the air conditioner vents in winter, and better still, cut wood blocks to size to put in their place for extra warmth. Seal any gaps that let the cold air in. Curtains or blinds help to keep in the heat away from windows, and rugs provide warmth and cosiness to hard floors.

Get fit, stay warm

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

One way to get warm in winter is to get moving. When it’s too dark and cold to venture outside, try an exercise bike, cross trainer or treadmill. Lift some weights while watching TV. Do some push ups on your kitchen bench. Chromecast a YouTube workout, dance class or yoga session. All of these will help to burn some calories and warm you up in the process.

Blankets

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

Have a few blankets within reach of the couch to snuggle up under. Opt for nice thick ones that keep the heat in. You can even buy heated blankets nowadays. Personally I’m not a fan but it is good to warm up your legs without needing to heat the whole house. Onesies can be super warm and a bit of fun.

Straight to bed

We often go to bed after dinner and cozy up under our quilt with a wheat bag or two. It saves putting on the heater and it’s the warmest place to be. We like our decaf coffee, tea and hot chocolates. We enjoy working on our side hustles or watching a TV series together on the iPad, and when it’s time to go to sleep, we don’t have to get up from the warm couch to go into a cold bedroom. Lazy? Probably. But in winter it works for us.

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Head and feet

Heat often escapes from your head and feet so make sure these are warm enough. For those without hair or much of it, a beanie can keep in precious heat. My hubby sleeps with a beanie on his shaved head because otherwise he ends up too cold. Keep your feet warm with thick socks or ugg boots. Use wheat bags in bed to keep toasty warm.

I have a friend who keeps a microwave in her bedroom for the sole purpose (no pun intended) of reheating wheat bags overnight when they go cold. Yes. She owns two microwaves. Crazy woman or genius? I’ll let you decide.

Under the sheets

This is where the magic happens. Do what you can to keep warm in your bed. Consider buying a woollen underlay. We were given one for an engagement present and didn’t use it to start with. When we finally did, wow. What a difference it made. Instant warmth and softness.

Flannelette sheets are another brilliant invention. Instead of that brisk coolness when you first get into bed, you’re met with a warm fuzziness. A bed with an electric blanket on, is a delight to climb into. We’ve now opted for the warm underlay instead but it can be a nice indulgence, provided you remember to turn it off before falling asleep.

Switching your summer quilt for a thicker, winter one helps keep the chills out overnight. It’s another thing to store off season but I personally think it’s worth it. Wheat bags or hot water bottles are the final piece to the puzzle. Mind you, I used to have both an electric blanket and a hot water bottle until someone pointed out how incredibly dangerous that was.

Could you imagine if it burst and you had hot water mixed with an electric current? I rest my case. Don’t forget a nice dressing gown so when you have to venture out of your cozy bed eleven hundred times to help your crying baby or upset child or busting dog, you can keep warm.

Be a savvy saver

Consider doing an energy audit. We’ve just borrowed a kit from our local library and could figure out which appliances were using the most money, and how much a year they are costing. Check if you could add more insulation to your ceiling. Turn off PowerPoints at the wall to stop items using energy on standby, and seal up any gaps to prevent the warmth from escaping.

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

Lowering the thermostat by a few degrees (if it is adjustable), can make a difference to your heating bills too. Cooking with the oven on warms the house. It also makes sense to cook a few things at once so you won’t need to use your oven everyday.

Find a better deal

With the growing pressures on energy reserves, there is less wriggle room to negotiate a better deal on your gas and electricity. However it’s still worth giving them a call and asking. Remind them that you have been a reliable customer of theirs for years and always paid your bills on time.

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Say that you would prefer to stay with them but in the end, you are on a budget and need to find the best price for your money. If they can’t offer you a better deal, switch to a different provider who can.

What needs to go

Keeping warm in winter is important. Look at your bank statements and see if there is any way to reduce your expenditure. Doing without some luxuries might help with paying heating bills. Things like gym memberships, streaming subscriptions, takeaway, alcohol and generous gifts can often be put on hold. These can be reassessed at a later date when money isn’t so tight and the cost of living not so high. There is no point trying to keep up with the Joneses if you are freezing every night.

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Last thoughts

Keeping warm in winter can be a challenge for many, especially those watching every last dollar. I really feel for pensioners who are reluctant to turn on the heater and have it so tough. Take some time to look around your home and see if the heat is escaping from anywhere.

Check to see that your current heater is working ok or if it would save you money in the long run to buy a different type. Make sure you’re not getting ripped off from your current provider. Don’t be afraid to go a little old school and do what our grandparents did to keep costs down. Sometimes though, no matter what we do to save on usage in winter, we can’t avoid paying for heating costs.

That’s when reducing our expenditure in other areas, working a little more or starting a side hustle, or a combination of the two can have a powerful effect. It can make us feel like we have more control over our situation.

How to keep warm in winter without blowing your energy bills

Can I make a suggestion? Look around you and think about who might be struggling right now. It might be a neighbour on your street. If appropriate, reach out and see if there’s a way you can help. You could drop them over a batch of soup and some crusty bread or have them over for a meal.

See if they need some help sourcing a more economical heater for their home. Buy them a new wheat bag, a dressing gown or slippers, a soft blanket or a warm quilt. What we do for someone might not feel like much, but it might mean a lot to them. Just showing that we care can be enough sometimes.

How to cope with the rising cost of living

How to cope with the rising cost of living

2022 has come as a shock to many people with the ever-rising cost of living. Everything we need to pay for has seemed to go up. Petrol prices are out of control. Our weekly grocery shop has risen astronomically from what it was last year. Interest rates have risen meaning our mortgage repayments have gone up.

Energy bills are soaring as and electricity rates hit record levels. Add to this the rental shortage crisis and subsequent rent increases mean that many are feeling the pinch and stress around keeping a roof over their head.

There are many factors for this rise in the cost of living. Climate change is causing more natural disasters like droughts, bushfires and floods. This has a flow-on effect with the availability and quality of fresh produce. The war in Ukraine is affecting our accessibility to oil and gas. Petrol is at an all time high. The Covid pandemic has seen a shortage of workers, delays in transportation, a reduction in spending and an increase in inflation.

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These are uncertain and stressful times and seemingly no-one is immune. It feels like every area of our life is affected by the rising cost of living yet our wages haven’t gone up enough to bridge the gap. It is particularly worrisome for those who are unemployed or underemployed, on the minimum wage, on one income, going through a divorce or desperation, battling a chronic health condition or illness, or on a pension. Spending on the most basic of necessities feels out of control. For those trying to make ends meet, this is feeling less achievable.

The big question is, what can we be doing to cope with these rising costs of living? How can we keep from drowning under this pressure? How can we move from treading water to feeling back in control, swimming our own race again?

There are a number of things we can do to reduce the impact and keep our head afloat. There is no quick fix, no easy solution, particularly for those really feeling the pinch right now. I do however, have some suggestions about how we can make a few changes to our lifestyle to make a difference moving forward.

Start with the biggest expenses such as housing, food and utilities and see how you can save money there before moving on to the smaller ones.

Mortgage

How to cope with the rising cost of living

For those with a mortgage and struggling with the cost of living, make sure you shop around for the best deal. Consider getting a mortgage broker who can help you negotiate and find the right lender for you. The lowest interest rate doesn’t always mean it is the best deal, and keep in mind that fixing your rate will restrict how much extra you can pay off. If you are not wanting to refinance, sometimes simply ringing up your bank and asking them if you are on the best deal can reduce it there on the spot.

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They prefer to keep customers where they can so if you play hardball, they may lower your rate to keep you. If not, don’t continue being loyal. Find a better deal elsewhere and switch. If possible, pay a little more than your minimum mortgage repayments. If you have an offset account, consider paying extra so it acts as emergency fund against your mortgage to reduce the interest payable. Provided you can redrew if necessary (with no fees), this can be a good way to have money aside in case you need it.

Groceries

How to cope with the rising cost of living

There is no denying that food prices have gone up, even over the space of a few weeks and months. Experts are prediction that iceberg lettuce is going to go up to $10 each. That’s insane! Although we can’t avoid paying more at the checkout, we can do a few things to reduce the impact on our budget. Meal plan from what you have left in your fridge, freezer and pantry and buy some top up ingredients to make dinners.

Use up what you have in your fridge already and clean it out regularly so items don’t go to waste. Have top up weeks where you aim to buy milk, bread, fresh fruit and veggies, and any other staples you need. Check out the $21 challenge that can save you lots and inspire you to use what you have. Shop with a list and buy fresh produce that is in season. For items out of stock or too expensive, look in the freezer section to see if it is more economical to buy that way (for example, broccoli, beans and spinach are handy in the freezer).

Plan more meat free meals, and for the days that you do consume meat, bulk it up with blitzed veggies. Pasta sauce is a great way to have vegetables inside and can be a way to get fussy toddlers to eat their greens. Lower your standards. Your lunches and dinners don’t need to be gourmet. Keep it simple, healthy and delicious, and don’t be afraid to repeat your favourite dishes in your menu plan.

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If you are able to, do a bulk prep and cook of your meals so you don’t have to be in the kitchen all of the time. Last night I cooked zucchini slice, zucchini chicken, sweet potato chips, potato bake and pumpkin scones. I had the oven on for two hours and used bacon, zucchini and onion across different dishes. Growing a herbs on your windowsill and basic vegetables in your garden means you always have a few fresh ingredients on hand without having to run to the shops.

Utilities

How to cope with the rising cost of living

When the price of everything keeps going up, it is important where possible to consume less energy. When you’re at home in winter, try to keep warm using good old fashioned methods before turning on the heater. Think about putting on a jumper, wearing ugg boots, putting a blanket over your legs and consuming a hot drink.

We often go to bed after dinner and cozy up under our quilt with a wheat bag – it saves putting on the heater and it’s the warmest place to be. Another idea is to use an exercise bike or Chromecast a YouTube workout to get you fit, moving and warm. Cooking with the oven on warms the house, and it makes sense to cook a few things at once so you won’t need to use your oven everyday.

Consider doing an energy audit. We’ve just borrowed a kit from our local library and could figure out which appliances were using the most money, and how much a year they are costing. Turn off PowerPoints at the wall to stop items using energy on standby, and seal up any gaps to prevent the warmth from escaping.

Close the air conditioner vents in winter, and better still, cut wood blocks to size to put in their place for extra warmth. Lower the thermostat by a few degrees if it is adjustable. Ring your provider to get a better deal and compare it with their competitors to check you are on a fair price. Take shorter showers.

In summer, putting the air conditioner on early in the day means it doesn’t have to work so hard in the heat of the day to bring the temperature down. Get the unit serviced every year or two to ensure it is running effectively. Wear light clothing, exercise in the cooler parts of the day and close the blinds to keep the heat out.

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Have a cool shower or bath, get the kids into a splash pool or under the sprinkler, or dip your feet in a little pool after work with a cold beverage. Have meals that don’t require using the oven where possible so the house can stay cool. Consider installing solar panels if you can afford them, as these can reduce your energy bills dramatically.

Insurance

How to cope with the rising cost of living

Despite the cost of living rising, insurance is still important to have. Shop around for the best deal on your house and contents, car, health and pet insurance. Don’t pay the lazy tax by not reviewing your rates annually. It can be a pain to do but a few simple phone calls can save you hundreds. If you get security system or cameras installed on your property, it can reduce premiums. Make sure that you are properly covered in the unlikely event that you’ll need it.

Less extracurricular

Consider putting some limits around what extracurricular activities you sign your children up to. This can help to reduce your driving, saving on petrol, not to mention saves on registration fees and uniforms. If you’re in South Australia, make the most of the School Sports vouchers that save $100 per child per year on fees, and similar programs exist in other states and countries to encourage more participation.

This doesn’t have to mean forever, but at least until you have your head above water. Who knows, you might enjoy a slightly slower pace of life when you say no more often.

Swimming lessons

How to cope with the rising cost of living

Living in a hot country surrounded by water, I think it’s very important that children learn to swim. Swimming lessons too expensive right now? If you have an infant, consider buying a block of casual passes and taking them for swims yourself. Watch what they do in baby lessons and try to replicate it yourself, by using songs to move them through the water and helping to familiarise them.

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Consider VACSWIM for children aged 4 and up. $50 for a full week in my area, plus we get free casual swimming at the centre. My kids get 15 hours of swimming with 5 of those hours lessons, for $50 every summer. You can add a beach week in too if you want them to learn extra skills. If you know someone with a pool, see if you can visit sometimes for extra practice.

Rethink getting a pet

How to cope with the rising cost of living

This may be controversial but I’m going to say it anyway. If you are struggling with the rising cost of living and putting food on the table, now is not the time to get a pet. Unless you are living alone and need the company, if at all possible avoid buying a new pet. I am not saying you should give up any current animals you own. However, pets like dogs and cats can be incredibly expensive.

Think purchase cost, accessories, bedding, food, veterinary bills, medication and holiday boarding. They can reduce your chances of getting a rental, especially in such a competitive market. If you are willing to sacrifice in other areas and have a sinking fund for your pet that you regularly add to, it might be fine, but please don’t forgo your own ability to provide for yourself because you take in a pet.

Know where your money goes

It is important to know where you money is going so it doesn’t trickle through your fingers. You can track your spending on a spreadsheet or via an app. WeMoney is one that I personally use (we both get $5 if you sign up and they plant a tree!). I write more about the features of WeMoney (such as credit scores, net worth, community posting, podcast and blog) here if you’re interested to find out more. Another way to do it is to simply set up direct debits so on payday, money is diverted into different accounts. For us, we have the mortgage deducted, then money goes into sinking fund accounts for spending, car repairs and upgrades, furniture and appliance upgrades, renovations, school and sporting fees, holidays and investing. I like this method because you make sure you put money away before you’re tempted to spend it and we can afford expenses when they come up. You can set up sinking funds for anything including Christmas, wedding, birthdays, pets, health etc. Getting your finances set up well helps you to cope with the cost of living and feel prepared for whatever is around the corner.

Side hustles

There is only so much you can cut out. Frugality is a wonderful way to be more mindful of how you spend money but it can be quite a restrictive way of living. Consider starting a side hustle so you have a little more spare cash. This could be delivering pizza or Uber Eats, tutoring or babysitting, starting up a YouTube channel or podcast, or writing a blog. You can take up a second job or start your own business. Side hustles can be a fun way to make extra money and get paid to do something you love. Canna Campbell has some great ideas in her bestseller, The $1000 Project.

Sell unwanted items

Needing extra cash to cope with rising costs of living? Suffocating in stuff? By going through and decluttering your things, you could find items of value to sell on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. When you take the time to sell things, it can make it easier to part with them if you are getting some money in return. I’ve sold some of my competition winnings, like a rocking chair, to fund a massage chair instead. We’ve been surprised with how much stuff we actually had and sold well over $10,000 worth over the last few years. Your house will feel lighter and your wallet heavier.

Flipping

If you have a hack for spotting a bargain or seeing potential, flipping might be for you. Spot a chest of drawers in hard waste? You could take it home and upcycle it, pocketing a profit when you sell. Find an old book collection in the op shop? List it on eBay and watch the bids come in. Discover an item on clearance in a store that is sold out everywhere else? Sell it for a higher price online, especially if it is rare or in demand. Teaching Brave found a Louis Vuitton scarf in an op shop for $3 and sold it for over $400!

Cashback

A clever way to be savvy with the money you have is to utilise cashback apps. My favourite two are Cash Rewards and ShopBack. They both run promotions where you can get extra cashback from certain stores. It often takes weeks or even months to receive the cashback but then you can transfer it straight into your account. Both give you money upon signing up (please note that I receive a sign up fee) and then any friends or family you refer, you get a bonus too! This can add up, especially if you know lots of people who don’t have these apps yet.

Gifts

Talk with your family around their expectations for gifts. Suggest limiting how much to spend and who you need to buy for. Does every adult need to get a present? Do children need to get a gift from everybody? It can feel awkward bringing up this topic of conversation but for all you know, others are feeling the same way.

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The older we get, the more we often value time spent together over material things. We’d prefer to buy what we want much of the time anyway too. Don’t be afraid to suggest putting in boundaries around gift giving and see what happens. It might save you some money, but also your sanity.

Buy less toys

How to cope with the rising cost of living

For parents reading and for whom money is extra tight right now, stop buying toys where possible. Make it part of your routine to visit your local toy library. There is almost no need to buy toys when libraries today are stocked full of such a huge range.

For a small annual fee, you can have access to all the toys, puzzles, educational toys, puppets, board games, ride on cars, scooters and dress ups you could ever need, not to mention gear you can borrow for parties. It can be a way of trialing toys that your children might like to own before parting with money for them.

Rethink streaming services

How to cope with the rising cost of living

Whilst many of us enjoy snuggling up in bed to stream endless tv shows and movies, it is not a necessity. When the cost of living is making you rethink every decision around spending, this can be one to go. Can you watch free to air catch up TV rather than Netflix, or have just one streaming service at a time?

When you watch the shows that you want to, cancel and switch to another service. If you have Foxtel, perhaps you could downgrade to a cheaper streaming service instead. Can you get out your DVD collection (if you still have any) or head to the library to borrow some? For music, consider listening to the radio or Spotify Free, and stop Premium.

Use the library

How to cope with the rising cost of living

Reading is a wonderful pastime but can become expensive. By utilising the library, you can try out a range of authors and genres. You can put books on hold from libraries around the state. You can borrow physical copies or ebooks. For those who are time poor, listening to books can be super handy. They can also become quite expensive. Libraries allow you to borrow audiobooks free on Libby or Borrowbox. If you haven’t already, download these apps and see what titles you can borrow today.

Shop secondhand

A great way to keep costs down is to shop secondhand. Op shops sell a huge range of clothes and shoes and often organise them by size. Money goes further on books, toys, linen and kitchenware, and you can often find a bargain in furniture too. Garage sales and listings on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree all help to give items a new life. We reduce the impact on the environment by keeping old items out of landfill and not needing packaging and manufacturing for new products.

Join your local Buy Nothing group.

An easy way to combat the cost of living is to join your local Buy Nothing group. It’s a fabulous way to get to know other people in your area, ask for items that you need and pass on items that you no longer use. So many times I’ve almost made a purchase, and then stopped to ask my group.

RELATED : Spending time with your partner- date ideas that won’t break the bank

More often than not, some kind person has one to give away and saved me needing to spend money. Other times I’ve almost thrown things away or put something in the donation box, not knowing if it would be accepted only to have someone so grateful for the item that they’d been looking for.

Switch it up

Being intentional with your finances doesn’t mean that you have to miss out altogether. Instead it might look like a potluck dinner with friends where everyone brings a dish rather than an expensive meal out. Having tap water, soft drink or juice instead of alcohol. Packing a picnic and bring a thermos to enjoy rather than buying food when out.

Buying frozen pizza or decorating bases to cook at home rather than ordering a pizza. Swap interstate or overseas holidays for camping and holidaying near home. Go with friends or family and split the cost of an Airbnb.

Utilise cooperatives & community groups

For those who are struggling right now, find your nearest cooperative. They often have meal packs at a fraction of the price of companies like ‘Hello Fresh’. They are genuinely cheaper than buying every ingredient seperately from the supermarket. Community groups, churches and charities can provide free bread, fruit and vegetables and hampers to those in need. Some hold soup nights or free meals. They are a great source of friendship if you are feeling isolated.

RELATED : Why you shouldn’t feel bad for not living up to the Bluey standards of parenting.

Reach out for help

If you’re really struggling and not sure what you can do or who to turn to, Scott Pape from the Barefoot Investor recommends giving the National Debt Helpline call on 1800 007 007. There you’ll find free, confidential counselling, there to help you figure a way out.

In closing

In closing, the rising cost of living in 2022 is pushing many individuals, couples and families to breaking point. It seems like every area of our life is getting more expensive with not much relief in sight. While these tips won’t solve the problem of how to stretch every last dollar, hopefully it is a starting point.

By reducing our expenses, negotiating better deals, saying no to the unnecessary and trying to live more frugally, we can get through this difficult season. By starting a side hustle or finding a casual job, we can reduce some of the financial pressure we find ourselves in and start to build up an emergency fund buffer. If life is really hard for you right now, please reach out for help.

There are many charities, organisations and churches equipped to help and would be more than happy to assist you. Alternatively, pop a comment or send us a message and I’ll do my best to point you in the direction of some help.

30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

Now more than ever, it’s easier to earn money from the comfort of home. The internet has made things accessible. We can sell physical items and ship them around the world. We can create digital products that someone can buy at the click of a button.

Although saving money is a wonderful tool for becoming financially independent, there is only so much that you can save. Frugality and resourcefulness only get you so far. It can feel restrictive and boring and feel like you’re missing out on things. Your earning potential, however, is unlimited.

Many of us spend time each day mindlessly scrolling on our devices. We play games, check social media and look at our emails. There is nothing wrong with this, but if we want to use our time more wisely, this can be an area to focus on. We can become more intentional.

Some of these are online and easier to manage during a global pandemic. Others will be more possible when this current season is over.

Here are 30 ways that you can earn money through side hustling.

I have included some links to companies or people worth following but these are not sponsored or affiliate links. I don’t get anything from recommending these but genuinely think they are worth looking into. This is not an exhaustive list of side hustles, but rather some options that might help you get started.

Side Hustle Idea #1. Selling household items

This can be a useful way to both declutter and make some handy cash. We all have things lying around our house, garage and shed that we don’t use or love anymore. I think it’s the easiest side hustle to start as all you need is a phone with a camera and the internet, and you can start posting. I’ve got some tips about how to sell items on Facebook and Marketplace or how to help your children declutter things that they don’t need.

RELATED : 20 ways to pay off your mortgage faster

Side Hustle Idea #2. Reselling or flipping

Once you start selling, you realise how fun it can be. You might run out of items of your own to sell or want to make more money. You can find items by the side of the road, clean them up and sell them. You can buy items at op shops (thrift stores) and sell them for profit. Teaching Brave recently found a Louis Vuitton scarf for $3 and sold it for $420 online. Thrifty Pixie and Minimalist Mumthrifts source clothing bargains from op shops and resell them on eBay.

RELATED : 12 Tips for Selling Second hand goods on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree

Side Hustle Idea #3. Blogging 

Blogging is a great way to earn a side hustle income. Figure out what you’re interested in, skilled in or simply love doing. What are you an expert in or can’t stop talking about? Start writing and build from there. Once you have built it up with website traffic and people start subscribing, it can become monetised with ads and affiliate links. A wealth of information about blogging can be found on Arts and Budgets.

Side Hustle Idea #4. Surveys

Completing surveys is a way of making your phone time count, especially if you’re waiting for an appointment. They can be super short or up to an hour of your time. You can generally save up your points to cash out on a gift card of your choice or get money in your account via PayPal. I haven’t spent enough time completing them and felt frustrated with how long points took to accumulate. Some people like Aussie Debt Free Girl persevere and have done quite well with ones like Octopus).

Side Hustle Idea #5. Research panels 

This is one of my personal favourites. It can be hard to qualify for the research topics that come up, but they pay out well when you do. You get to have your say on interesting topics or speak about your experience in your field of expertise. Thanks to the pandemic, there are more opportunities online now that suit those with mobility restrictions, who have young children or would simply prefer to stay in their trackies on the couch rather than driving somewhere. I once got paid $250 for a three-hour zoom call, and I only had to actively participate for ten minutes of this time. Amazing! I’ve registered for a few but my favourite is the Research Network.

Side Hustle Idea #6. Tutoring

Tutoring might be right for you if you have a background in education and enjoy helping people. It can be a flexible job that fits your lifestyle. You can work after hours and on weekends. Covid has also made doing this remotely more possible too. This means you could see more people back to back without allowing for travel time.

Tutoring is a way to help people achieve their goals and improve themselves while making money. Depending on your skills and experience, you could charge a high amount per hour. This can be done freelance style (need to get your name out to people but you keep all the earnings) or through an agency (they do the paperwork, you get more work but they take a cut of your pay).

Side Hustle Idea #7. Content creating 

This is a growing area of opportunity in the tech space, particularly in social media. Businesses are realising the potential benefits of using influencers to create content for their audience. This can be posted on the company site, the influencer’s page or both. The bigger the influencer’s audience, generally the more they will be paid, so this is an incentive to work towards organic growth. Meaningful collaborations can occur when influencers sign up with companies that align with their values.

Side Hustle Idea #8. Write an e-Book

If there is a topic that you are both passionate about and experienced in, an eBook can be a great idea to hustle income. This is less daunting than writing an actual book and trying to get published. It can be a way of testing out the waters to see if you like writing and if you have much success with selling. I love that a digital copy can be purchased multiple times without you having to manage a physical copy. Many people have had great success, with The FI Couple being an example of this.

Side Hustle Idea #9. Uber Eats

This is a useful side hustle for those who have their own transport and live in the metro area. Some people cycle, others use electric bikes, scooters, motorbikes or cars. It can work around other employment and be a flexible job. I wouldn’t rate this as a high paying income, nor a dependable one. Having to maintain your own vehicle is often costly and time-consuming, and riding or driving to different neighbourhoods in traffic, nighttime and bad weather can be dangerous.

DISCOUNT COUPON FOR UBER EATS (FREE $10) : GET DISCOUNT

Side Hustle Idea #10. Cleaning 

This is a good job for those who like to get out and about, who have high standards for cleanliness, who are self-motivated and work quickly. It is satisfying work and helps people who can’t keep up with cleaning themselves. It keeps you fit and you can listen to music or podcasts while you do it. It’s great for those who enjoy a break from other people. It can be strangely soothing. The only downsides are you have to physically travel to houses which means unpaid time, and won’t earn money when you are sick.

Side Hustle Idea #11. YouTube

If you don’t mind being in front of the camera and having something to say, YouTube might be the side hustle for you. Those who are successful usually find a niche area, plan their content, take time to edit and add graphics and produce high-quality content. Once you hit 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time, you can apply for YouTube’s Partner Program.

This allows creators to start monetising their channels through ads, subscriptions, and channel memberships. It can take some time to become monetised but for the right person, it can be an amazing money maker. Some of my favourite YouTubers are Family Finance, SugarMamma, The Minimal Mom, Hapa Family and Hidden Gem

Side Hustle Idea #12. Mowing lawns

If you love getting out in the fresh air, doing manual work and feeling productive, mowing lawns might be for you! It’s one of those love it or hates it jobs. You’ll need your own mower and line trimmer, and know-how to maintain and troubleshoot. Have your own transport and a trailer or big boot space. Satisfying work, except in poor weather.

Side Hustle Idea #13. Websites

This is a growing way to make some serious cash if you are tech-savvy and willing to learn some new skills. People buy websites on places like Flippa that have potential, spend some time doing them up and either get income each month or sell them for a profit. Matt and Liz sell courses about how to do this and while I haven’t yet taken any, I am definitely interested in doing this in the future. Captain Fi has done their courses and provides more information and reviews about this on this blog and podcast.

Side Hustle #14. Vending machines

Some people buy vending machines and make some handy cash through managing these and stocking them with products. This side hustle is appealing because you don’t need tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment on a property, or thousands of dollars to invest. It is a business model that you can physically see where your money is going and is relatively easy to start. Marc at Better Wallet knows about this and can help to point you in the right direction.

Side Hustle #15. Babysitting 

This is a great side hustle if you like working with kids. It is often the first part-time job for young people who are asked to look after nieces and nephews or local neighbourhood families. It can be a good way to get some experience, gain a referee, earn some cash and develop skills in working with children. This often happens in the evenings so parents can enjoy a date night, so once the kids are in bed, the babysitter can help to clean up and then relax on the couch.

Side Hustle #16. Medical research

If you don’t mind injections and blood tests and are a fan of hospital food, this side hustle might be for you! Medical companies pay people to attend clinics and stay in hospitals to have medical procedures performed and have experimental drugs tested on them. Jobs range from a few hours to several days to several weeks at a time.

Personally, I am too much of a wuss to even contemplate this but had mates at uni who would do anything for extra cash. They were sometimes paid thousands of dollars to do these trials. It’s worth taking some time to check if this is safe for you and your body, and if so, find the right trial to apply for.

Side Hustle #17. Upwork

On Upwork, people pay for your expertise and you can hire those in the know. It’s a brilliant concept as it links up those wanting work with those who need work done. You can search for numerous skills and find the right person for the job.

It provides income to those who are struggling to find work locally and literally opens up the world to people to earn money doing what they are good at. I have hired a graphic designer and website technical support and have been extremely pleased with the work that they have done.

My recent hire on Upwork for Website Support : Gaurav Chaulagain

Side Hustle #18. Etsy

If you are creative or crafty, Etsy might be the platform for you to sell your items on. Things from knitwear and crochet, wall decor, jewellery and accessories, art and collectables, craft, clothing and shoes, wedding and party, and toys and entertainment.

Some people in the debt-free community sell printable and editable charts, planners and calculators to help you set goals and track your results. Like all Platforms, Etsy takes a cut so it might be a way to get started and build up your reputation before trying to go out on your own. The Digital Suite by Sandra Stewart is one example of an amazing site.

Side Hustle #19. Affiliate links

If you have a website or social media site which gets some traffic, having affiliate links can be a nice income generator. You can post links to sites that align with your values and would be of interest to your audience or customers.

For me, I have a few affiliate links which pay when anyone signs up, and also gives the person a small cash bonus. For example with Cash Rewards I get $20 and the person gets $10, ShopBack we both get $20 each and WeMoney we both get $5 (plus they plant a tree). It’s not a huge amount but I’m so grateful to any kind person who signs up via my link, and love that they can then start referring their family and friends to earn extra money too.

Some companies will approach you about collaborating with a nominated fee paid per sign up, or you can ask companies to consider you. Amazon have an affiliate marketing program that helps content creators, publishers and bloggers monetise their traffic and might be a good starting point for you.

RELATED : 12 money saving tips for parents

Side Hustle #20. Start a business

There are endless opportunities for business ideas these days, many of which start from the humble side hustle. It is worth testing out the water a bit and starting small to see if it is a viable option and makes economical sense. For example, some ideas are better kept to a hobby – you enjoy them but you don’t make enough money.

Others may be suited to a small side hustle but not your main income. Many entrepreneurs have started with big dreams, tried their luck and have become very successful. Find a mentor, read up on books from those who have made it, and see if there are any local courses available to you (for example run by your council or state government). There are many resources out there to help you become skilled and build relationships with those in the know.

RELATED : 7 tips to successfully winning competitions and prizes

Side Hustle #21. Sell stock photos

If you are good at photography and have a decent camera, selling photos on sites like Shutterstock might be worth your while. You can set up an account, upload high-quality images (eg. landscapes) and be paid a royalty every time someone downloads your photo. You retain the copyright to your images and it can be reasonably profitable. Note that not everyone can qualify and it may take some time to earn good money.

Side Hustle #22. Cans & Bottles 

If you care about the environment and live in a metro town, this might be a handy side hustle. Many local councils pay for every can and bottle brought to the recycling centre (where I live this is 10c each). By simply collecting your own recycling, you can earn decent cash. If you want to make more money, you can walk around your local streets and parks with a bag, and even collect them after footy matches or outdoor concerts. While it won’t make you rich, it can help you save up for something that you want or go towards a fun day out or holiday!

Side Hustle #23. Air BnB

If you own your place, consider whether you could make money from it with Airbnb. You might have a large house with a spare room, a multi-storey property like Frank on Fire, a granny flat or a converted garage that you could hire out. Alternatively, if you enjoy going on regular holidays or have somewhere else you can stay sometimes, you could list your residence for the days that the house is being vacated.

Airbnb can be a lucrative side hustle for the right people and can help pay off the mortgage a whole lot faster as well as enabling you to see more of the world. It also helps travellers have more of an authentic experience than simply checking in to a city hotel.

Side Hustle #24. Dog walker

For those who love exercising outdoors and like furry friends, dog walking could be a fun side hustle. There is a growing demand for dog walkers (alongside doggy daycare!) as pet owners are increasingly busy and don’t have enough hours in the day.

Wanting to be do the right thing and make sure their dogs get enough fresh air and exercise, owners are on the lookout for responsible, trustworthy people. This would suit those in metro and suburban areas who are looking for more work, who are fit and strong enough to wrangle the most enthusiastic or defiant of dogs.

Side Hustle #25. Declutter homes

If you consider yourself a neat freak or minimalist and enjoy decluttering, you might just love this job. Whilst there are businesses and agencies that employ professional organisers, the average Joe (or Mary) might just want someone to help them out and get on top of their stuff.

This may involve helping them make decisions about what to keep, donate, sell or throw, then packing up items to move out the house, listing things to sell and organising what is left. It is a satisfying and rewarding job for the hardworking, motivated, organised and for someone who likes to help others declutter.

RELATED : How to declutter your children’s toys for good

Side Hustle #26. Upcycling furniture

Do you ever drive past old furniture on the side of the road and spot gorgeous pieces that just need some TLC? Do you enjoy watching renovation and home improvement shows and feel inspired at what they can do with items that have seen better days? Perhaps upcycling furniture is theside hustle for you.

You’ll need some transport that can tow a trailer so you can pick up items from hard waste (destined for the dump), op shops or garage sales, and also a place to store and work on them (think large shed or garage). You’ll need some know-how, woodworking tools, paints and varnishes and a good camera to take photos to list online to sell. Not only is this good for the environment as it keeps items out of landfill, but it allows you to use your creative flair while earning a decent profit.

Side Hustle #27. Mystery shopping

If you are observant, enjoy providing feedback and like getting out and about, Mystery Shopping could be a fun side hustle. It involves going to different shops and businesses and posing as a customer.

You need to remember specific details about the person who serves you (their name, appearance, how tidy their uniform is etc) and note what level of customer service they provided (were they friendly, did they have good product knowledge, could they answer questions, did they try to upsell you, were they efficient, did they stop to answer the phone or chat to an employee, were they professional etc). You often have a specific item to buy or product to enquire after, and then fill in a long survey once you have left the store.

I have been on both ends of this role. I was once mystery shopped while working at a bakery, thankfully receiving a score of 100% and was given movie tickets as a reward. I have also worked as a mystery shopper and inspected fast food places, hardware stores, department stores and speciality shops. One time I even when to a retirement village and had to pretend that my parents needed to go into care.

The problem was, the lady recognised my parent’s names and was shocked that they had deteriorated this much since they last saw them. I had to come clean and tell them that I was a mystery shopper, and then let my employer know that my cover had been blown. It isn’t always high paying but sure is interesting work and can make some good stories!

Side Hustle #28. Copywriting

For those who are good with words, copywriting is a handy way to earn cash. It is perfect for those who are happy to write for someone else rather than create their own content, or as a way to curate their skills. Copywriters create work for brochures, catalogues, billboards, advertisements, scripts, social media posts and blog articles. The more experienced you are, generally the more money you can earn. The downside is that you don’t own your own content, so although you will earn money upfront, you won’t make ongoing money from website traffic or selling eBooks.

Side Hustle #29. Social media

Enjoy social media and find it easy to create and grow pages? Stop scrolling and start earning! Consider doing this as a side hustle. Many businesses have no idea about where to start with social media and it’s just another thing that they have to manage. They’d prefer to be focusing on what they’re good at – growing their business. You could approach a business directly and ask if they need a hand with their site, or post a job on a site like a Freelancer to find work. You’ll be taking a load off the shoulders of a hardworking small business owner whilst honing your skills and earning some nice cash for the privilege.

Side Hustle #30. Sell online resources

If you are knowledgeable on a particular topic, consider creating online resources to sell. I personally sell on a site called Teachers Pay Teachers and have made $3000 on one resource alone. This is a pretty good return for perhaps eight or nine hours of work. When I have more capacity I would love to create more resources like this one. For now though, at least this one is ticking away nicely and pays my phone bill (and sometimes a subscription) every month.

Final thoughts

In closing, side hustles are a wonderful way to earn cash and get ahead financially. It may be something temporarily that you do to pay off a credit card debt or save an emergency fund, or it may be something that you love and turns into an actual business. Whatever your reasons, give one or two a go and see what happens! You don’t have much to lose and potentially a lot to gain.

See my Insta post for which side hustles I have done in the past and which ones I do now. I’d love you to follow and join our awesome community on there, on Facebook & Twitter too

*Please note that the links provided are not affiliates and I do not receive anything for posting them. I simply thought it might be of some use to people.

An Ode to AfterPay

An Ode to AfterPay

(A poem dedicated to the ever growing, ever dodgy, Buy Now, Pay Later schemes)

Buy now and pay later 

might look quite harmless,

it’s only four payments,

it’s not a big excess.

It appears so simple, 

nothing upfront to pay,

just click here to sign up,

it’s an easy, carefree way.

But stop! Buyer beware!

Don’t get suckered in,

small amounts add up,

it’s not a financial win.

Those who designed them 

are quite sneaky, you see.

No charge (if you pay on time),

the seller gets a fee. 

Once you buy a few items

it’s hard to keep track,

your pay comes in and then straight out,

and the debits start to stack.

Research shows that you’ll sign up

to more than one just scheme

trying to keep on top of these

can be impossible, it seems.

Once you’ve got your purchase,

and the shine has come off a bit,

it’s no longer as exciting,

yet you have to still pay for it.

AfterPay and the like 

can affect your credit rating,

it robs from you your options

and financial future it starts taking. 

So do yourself a favour,

avoid these like Covid.

Save up to buy what you want-

you’ll be really glad you did.

4 simple ways to ensure your family is protected (in case something ever happened to you)

4 simple ways to ensure your family is protected (in case something ever happened to you)

Murphy’s law suggests that if we have insurance, we probably won’t need to use it. It seems like we spend all of that money and never need to use it. That is a good thing though. We don’t want to get caught out. We don’t want to be underinsured or not insured at all.

We are often good at insuring our cars, house and contents, holidays and our health. It’s what is expected of us. It is a habit.

What about protecting you in case of an accident, serious illness, disability or death? It’s not nice to think about. It’s not a nice subject. We don’t normally talk about it. It’s not a great conversation starter (in my opinion anyway). It’s depressing and boring and not at the forefront of our minds.

However, what if something happened to you, today? What if you were no longer able to go to work and provide for your family? Who would get your assets? Who would care for your children? How would the rent or mortgage be paid? How would you afford school fees? How would the bills be paid?

Here are four simple ways to protect your family:

1. Create a will.

Many people do not have a will in place. It is not something people talk about nor something that we think about. Not having a will can make things very challenging for those that are left behind in the case of an untimely or unexpected death.

Dividing assets can become complicated, as can the guardianship of orphaned children. We did this at our local lawyers office. We put in place plans for our money and care of our children if something were to happen to us. We also put plans in writing to protect our spouse if they were widowed.

Regardless of age, it’s a good thing to sort out sooner rather than later as we really don’t know what’s around the corner. It cost less than $500 for peace of mind and was a very straight forward process. Willpro offer an online alternative. It’s completely legit and done by a lawyer for only $99 and couples less than $200 (moneysavvymamma readers get a discount when you mention my name).

2. Have an emergency fund.

Having money aside for when you need it is important. For many people, if they had a large expense pop up they would not have the funds to cover it. They are forced to ask for help from family, take our a loan or open a credit card. It’s not ideal and can prove quite stressful.

Ideally, it is a good idea to save up between 3-6 months of expenses. This money should be easily accessible, ie not in shares or in a term deposit. Consider if you were to lose your job tomorrow or be unable to work due to illness. Would you have any leave you could use or cash out? How much in savings do you have to cover rent or the mortgage? How long could you ‘survive’ until things got really bad?

This emergency fund does not have to equate to months of income, but rather necessary expenses you would have to cover (housing, groceries, utilities, car running costs, insurance etc). It can be a daunting process, especially if you are on a low wage. Start putting money aside each pay and set a goal to achieve this by.

3. Make sure you have income protection.

Income protection ensures that if you are unable to work, you will still continue to get paid. This could be for a sudden illness, accident, injury or disability. Knowing that you will be ok and your bills will be taken care of can be a huge weight off your mind.

When choosing what type and how much to sign up for, there is normally a waiting period. This is when it is imperative to have an emergency fund in place to help cover you in the interim. Income protection can be setup through superannuation (Australia’s version of retirement) or purchased separately.

Going through super can be an easier and cheaper option, but doesn’t always cover that much. Make sure to read the fine print to check that you’ll be covered enough. Applying separately can involve much paperwork, cost a higher amount and come out of your take home pay. However, if you need to access money, it might pay out more. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask an expert for help.

4. Apply for death and total and permanent disability insurance (TPD).

Whilst we don’t ever want to access this type of insurance, it is extremely important. In the unlikely event of your early death, this can provide some comfort to your family members knowing that some key financial areas will be taken care of.

I suggest increasing the payout figure to a number that would easily pay for a funeral, pay off the mortgage, and provide enough money so the remaining spouse can stay home with the kids (and not have to worry about work). It is another insurance that you have to pay for (directly or indirectly) but it is one that you need to have in place. It is crucial that both spouses have this cover, not just the one heading out to work.

These four things are a starting point to give you peace of mind, especially during these uncertain times. It is worth taking some time to consider these questions. If not now, block out some time in your calendar or put a reminder in your phone. Make thinking about, talking about and actioning this a priority.

As always, make sure you get the right advice that is specific to your financial and family situation.

Do you need to organise one of these?

[Disclaimer: I’m not trained in finance so don’t take it from me. Feel free to grab ideas from this post but always see a professional for advice that is relevant and personal to your situation.]

Why keeping up with the Joneses can steal our joy

Have you noticed the growing pressure to spend more and own nice things? More and more I feel like we are expected to have a high standard of living.

I think that some of us want the first house we buy to be the one our parents saved up their whole lives for, and the ones our grandparents and great grandparents would have only dreamt of. There’s a lot to be said for being content and grateful for what we have and not needing to have everything all at once.

I am not trying to bag young people or say it was easier in my day. I’m still semi young (😅) and I know not all young people have this attitude.

I know house prices have gone crazy recently and times are hard and we are not all out getting avocado on toast. Some cities are becoming almost unaffordable for even the most basic of houses.

However. I do think that there is unreasonable pressure to have all the expensive things straight away. It is expected, in many circles, that once you are working you’ll buy the nice car, big house, new furniture and fancy tv.

It’s fine if you save up for these things but more times that not, this is paid for on credit or left with huge debts. I hear people all the time complaining about how busy they are. About how they ‘have’ to work full time. About how they ‘have’ to go back to work after having a baby or both ‘have’ to work to afford kids.

For some people, this is reality. They have no choice.

But at the risk of being hated, I’m going to say it anyway. Most of us have choices.

We can buy the amazing new car and have a loan, or we can drive an older one and save to upgrade it.

We can over-extend ourselves and buy a massive house and work lots to pay for it (and will be in trouble if they lose their job or interest rates go up) or we can borrow less than the banks let us and buy something that we can actually afford (even on one wage, allowing for unforeseen circumstances).

We can buy new flashy furniture and accessorise our houses and upgrade to new electronics or we can make do with second hand, saving up for new pieces when we can afford it. We don’t need to buy in to the new technology just because it’s new. We can reduce the amount sent to landfill and environmental impact.

My husband and I often feel envious after visiting beautiful homes. We can’t help but stare at modern, open plan kitchens (ours is old and wooden), gorgeous bathrooms (we have a purple bath and penguin tiles) and outside entertaining areas (we have a tiny deck and no undercover area). We have to remind ourselves that maybe one day we can have this, but it’s not our time yet.

We are choosing to live within our means. We avoid lifestyle creep by setting our own agenda about where our money goes. We decide what is most important for our family and stage of life.

We want to be around more for our children, spending time not money on them. We have less disposable income but are happy to go without some of our wants.

It all depends on who you are comparing yourself with. Are you comparing yourself to the professional couple on a double wage, with a six digit income? What about the single parent living on welfare, struggling to make ends meet? Someone homeless after a relationship breakdown or job loss? A family in desperate need of food, suffering in a time of drought and living in a single room hut with dirt floors? A refugee who has escaped a war torn country, living in a camp?

If we are only associating ourselves with those who are wealthy, or seeing influencers on social media show off their life, our world view is skewed a certain way. I am privileged and have much to be thankful for. I don’t have everything but have everything I need.

Do you feel that there is pressure to keep up with the Joneses?

20 ways to pay off your mortgage faster

pay off your mortgage

A mortgage doesn’t have to be forever. In fact, many people are paying theirs off in record time. Just imagine what your life would look life if you had no debt, and true financial freedom!

Here are 20 tips to help pay off your mortgage earlier:

1. Interest rate.

Check to see that you are on a good interest rate. Banks are like electricity companies – they apply the lazy tax. They offer good deals to new customers but often not to existing ones. Look around at their competitors and see what they can offer you instead. Go back to your bank and say that you’ll move if they don’t match the other rate. In many cases, they’ll do anything to keep you.

2. Make more frequent repayments.

Pay weekly or fortnightly instead of monthly. I prefer weekly as it feels like less money, and I like to see results quickly! Paying weekly or fortnightly means that you make an extra payment each year without even realising, and this will save you thousands in interest.

3. Round up.

Round up accounts each night or whenever you check your balance. Transfer to the mortgage. Small amounts quickly add up!

4. Need vs Want.

Do you need to live close to the city, in a large house, with a swimming pool? Opt to buy a home in an area you can afford (even on one income- you could lose your job / get sick or injured / pregnant etc). You can always upgrade later. Live within your means. In saying that though, before you buy a house, consider the next 5 years. If you want to start a family, perhaps don’t buy a one bedroom apartment. Avoid moving more than you need to or you’ll just end up paying stamp duty unnecessarily.

5. Get insured.

Make sure you (and your spouse) are covered in the unlikely event of permanent disability, loss of income and death. It is important that the stay at home parent is also covered, so if something happened to them, the partner could pay off the mortgage and be able to stay home with the kids without worrying about money or work. Often superannuation policies cover for this but it may not be enough, or they may not cover for pre existing medical conditions. Insurance is one of those things that you will probably pay for and never use, but this is a good thing.

6. Live without payments.

Transfer any Centrelink (government assistance) payments that you can live without to the mortgage. This might be regular or annual amounts.

7. Live on one wage.

If you are on a double income, see if you can live on one wage (good preparation for having children). Have one persons wage pay the rent or mortgage, groceries, bills etc and the other put all or most on the mortgage (or savings to buy a house). Knock as much as you can off, as quickly as you can.

8. Side hustle.

Any extra money you come into (2nd job, selling things, overtime, tax return, inheritance etc), put on the mortgage. Enjoy watching those numbers go down.

9. Reduce all unnecessary spending.

Write down every person you buy presents for (it adds up). Do you need to buy everyone a present at Christmas or can you do Kris Kringle? Make a limit, say $30 adults for KK and $10-20 for kids. Do you even remember what you were given last year for Christmas?

10. Bring your own food.

Pack your lunch. Bring a coffee to work rather than buying one. Don’t drink calories if you can avoid it (soft drink, juice, energy drinks etc). They are expensive and often don’t fill you up. Opt for a filling meal instead and drink water.

11. Spend your own money.

Don’t use credit cards or afterpay. Live within your means. Use cash and debit cards instead, and keep a list in your phone of things you want to buy. Wait a few weeks and see if you still really want them.

12. Refinance.

Get a good mortgage broker. Check that your mortgage is with the best bank / consider fixing or making variable etc depending on advice.

13. Seek advice.

Consider paying to see a financial planner or advisor. It might set you back a couple of hundred dollars but will save you thousands over the long haul.

14. Learn from the experts.

There are many fabulous authors out there. I’d recommend Canna Campbell’s ‘Mindful Money,’ Scott Pape’s ‘Barefoot Investor’ and Lacey Filipich’s ‘Money School’ books. Read, watch YouTube clips or join one of their Facebook groups for inspiration and accountability. Free Podcasts are a great way to learn more and achieve your financial goals.

15. Budget.

Make a budget and try and stick to it. There are plenty of apps and spreadsheets for this, some that are free and others that cost a few dollars. Others prefer a book and pen. Do your research and find what works best for you and your family!

16. Cash.

Use cash where possible – it’s harder to spend than a card. It seems to feel more real and hurts when you spend.

17. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

If you can’t afford a new or newer car, don’t! Save up and buy with cash. Opt for older (but still reliable). When you can afford it, upgrade. We have a fortnightly direct debit into a savings account for this very purpose. When we need to upgrade, we can use these funds to partly or fully pay for it.

18. Pause unnecessary spending.

Consider putting a hold on luxuries like eating out, drinking alcohol regularly, overseas holidays and even private school fees until you have paid off your debts, and possibly even your mortgage (or at least make a dent in it).

19. Be on the same page.

Try to get your spouse on board too. Watching your mortgage go down can actually be fun (I must be getting old)! It definitely makes it easier if you are both on the same page.

20. Do whatever it takes.

The more you can pay down your mortgage now, the less interest you’ll end up paying. Just because you signed up for a 30 year loan doesn’t mean it has to take that long. Do you want to still be paying it off in your fifties or sixties? Make a plan to pay it off early, if you can. Every little extra you can spare will save you thousands in interest over the life of the loan.

Final thoughts

Paying off a mortgage early takes intentionality, hard work and sacrifice. It is a hard slog. I have never met someone who regretted paying it off though. The freedom that it brings is life changing. We are working towards getting ours gone.

Are you motivated to pay off your mortgage quickly? What strategies do you use? Feel free to comment below.