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15 March 22
Reading time: 5 minutes
“Hang on, is petrol $3 now?” asked one of the teens I was ferrying to and from their latest basketball scrimmage. I was glad he noticed, but for anyone who’s spent $170 just to fill up a tank lately, you’ll be quite aware that this is the way we roll these days.
Half an hour earlier I had dialled up the Gaspy app, hunted around and kept my petrol costs under that $3 mark. It’s pretty awesome when we can all pitch in with the prices we’re seeing and help each other find the best deals.
How best to cope with rising prices everywhere? In the past 12 months, rising inflation has hit us all, whether it be at the pump, the supermarket checkout or housing costs – $4000–$5000 more on average. That’s $364 more a year on food alone.
Is this a crisis? It all depends on our ability to adapt – whether we can redirect those dollars we’re budgeting, and how much of a buffer we have. If we resort to living on the credit card or depending on Buy Now, Pay Later for everyday expenses, that’s crisis borrowing and things will get worse for us.
It’s definitely a worry, as the FSC’s latest resilience survey results show: most of us are either somewhat concerned (37.3%) or very concerned (42.2%) about inflation.
This all sounds a bit like that old boiling frog story, where the temperature of the water creeps up gradually on us. Suddenly here we are. Let’s do something about it.
The good news is, capturing everything you spend money on is easier than ever, as it’s typically online at your fingertips. That makes it simple to chart your incomings and outgoings using our budgeting tool.
Think of a budget as a plan for your money – it’s important that we adjust our plan to fit our new world of inflation. Sometimes budgeting just ends us up doing more of the same, but now is the time to rework your plan so it fits. What categories will you need more money for?
If you had to bring your spending back to bare bones, what stays, what goes? We’ll have to keep things like housing, bills and food of course but are there extras you can get rid of? As you Marie Kondo your non-essentials, keep your spending as happy as it can be. Rate your expenses on the emotional return they give you, from ‘terrible’ to ‘utmost happiness’. You can walk away from anything that leaves you indifferent or worse. Here’s more on happy spending.
Whether it’s power, mobile, broadband, insurance, loans or KiwiSaver funds – it’s time to take advantage of all the information out there, compare and get the best deals. And as soon as you’ve found something that trims your costs, go for it. Here are the best sites to compare in each category.
We’re at the time of year when we can see some price spikes on the horizon – particularly power. How best to plan ahead for when power doubles in price per kilowatt hour? And what else is around the corner this year? Setting aside $20 a week into an emergency fund can help smooth out any thin times ahead when prices take us by surprise.
A common tip for saving money is bulk-buying when a product is on special. But that doesn’t always work out the way we want.
With some things, like butter, we don’t use more just because we buy more. We usually consume it at the same pace, no matter how much is at home. So stocking up when it’s on sale is fine. Coffee and tea are like that too.
But with other things, like ice cream or snacks, the more we buy, the more we end up eating! So to save on these types of things (think alcohol, for example), it pays to have less of them around the house.
You may find that grocery shopping online works better for you, or other tricks like avoiding heading to the store when you’re hungry or not having the kids in tow. (Bringing them into an environment where shelves of products seem to scream “buy me!” isn’t great.) You’ll want to be shopping around, taking advantage of teaser rates and working to your list (not someone else’s).
Look for opportunities to substitute, like a cheaper brand or alternate product that will do us just fine – swapping out butter for margarine is an easy money-saver. Here’s more on stocking the pantry without breaking the budget.
If you’re carrying high-interest debt from credit cards or store cards, which can be as high as 25% just in interest, all that borrowing is costing you a fair bit. By prioritising repayments, you can free up money in your budget to meet your other rising costs. Here’s more on tackling your debt.
If you’re struggling with debt because of rising costs and need some personalised help, you can live chat with the MoneyTalks team. It’s good to have someone online who’s in your corner. The team is available Monday–Friday 8am–8pm, Saturdays 9am–4pm, and Sundays 10am–2pm.
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