21 January 2022
Improve your financial wellbeing with some helpful tips from top budgeting expert: Irish Budgeting Mammy
Love it or hate it, January is here and there is no better time to take control of your finances.
Our guest blogger for this article is budgeting expert Ann-Marie Gaynor, more commonly known as Irish Budgeting Mammy.
A busy public servant by day, Ann-Marie also runs the ‘Irish Budgeting Mammy’ Instagram page which helps over 28,000 followers manage their money better and make significant positive changes to their financial wellbeing. In this article Ann-Marie shares some budgeting golden nuggets to help our members get their finances into great financial shape this January.
Anne-Marie’s top tips:
STEP 1: Debt
It’s so important to understand all of your debt (loans, overdrafts, credit cards, etc.) and to get on top of it! It really does pay to put in the legwork early in the year so that you don’t spend the rest of 2022 paying more than you need to in debt repayments.
When reviewing your loans, you need to look at the rate you’re repaying and the terms and conditions that come with that loan. Compare your regular repayments, and use online loan calculators to make it easier (Comhar Linn CU’s online calculator is a great tool to work out potential repayments on loans).
Take time and care to read all of the terms of your loans - for example while there are deposits, fees, and many restrictions with PCP loan arrangements, a Car Loan with Comhar Linn CU is flexible, you own the car from day 1, there are no fees and no penalties for early repayments. Always find out what deposits and other fees are required, ask if there are financial penalties if you decide to repay a loan early, and find out if the lender be flexible if needs be.
Another important question to ask yourself when reviewing your loans, overdrafts and credit card bills is: could I be saving money on all of these debts? By consolidating all of your debt (that means combining all of your debts into 1 simple loan) you could not only save money, but it would greatly reduce the amount of pressure you might feel when it comes to keeping on top of multiple debts with a variety of different financial institutions.
Comhar Linn CU offers a competitive Consolidation Loan for this very purpose. The team are extremely helpful and have members’ best interests at heart. The loans team are happy to talk you through your options and propose an option to make managing your debts easier and, quite possibly, even cheaper.
STEP 2: Variable Expenses
Variable Expenses is one area you can really make adjustments and savings. For this type of expense I use the 'cash envelope method', dividing my money into different categories. To help you decide what categories to use, think of the areas where you spend most money in your day-to-day transactions. For me it is food, fuel, fun, beauty and work. The work envelope is for my coffee and snacks on workdays; this is the one area where I find many of us overspend. You decide the budget for each of these areas. If you find yourself over-spending in any area, you need to review the allowances you've set for yourself, or you need to be strict with yourself and say 'No, I've spent my allowance for coffees (for example) this month already, I'll just have to bring coffee from home or do without it.' Don’t tap the card for an extra coffee!
Stick to your budget. Getting the balances right can often be hard at first but with practice it will come. If you have a big expenditure coming up, you can easily cut back in some of these budget areas to give you the funds to cover it. Also, there may be weeks when you do not spend all of the money in a particular envelope. This is really helpful as it gives you a head start for the next week.
STEP 3: Sinking Funds
A sinking fund is a sum of money that you set aside (usually by saving a bit each month) that's completely separate from your savings account or your emergency fund. A sinking fund can be used to pay for home repairs, save for a new car, pay for your vacation, or cover large medical bills.
Comhar Linn CU offers a Budget Account to members which provides peace of mind to members, relieving pressure to remember to pay bills and to ensure you have the funds to pay regular recurring amounts as well as cover those unforeseen expenses. With the Budget Account you can ensure that you have the funds available to pay for treats and special occasions throughout the year too!
Step 4: Involve the family
Get your partner on board! Make it a joint effort; share your financial goals and work together towards reaching them.
Comhar Linn CU offer membership (with full benefits) to non-teaching staff who are related to the teacher-member. They can open an individual account, or you can open a joint account together.
Get the Kids involved too! Your children learn by example; seeing you acting financially savvy provides a great model for them to follow. Talk to your kids about money and money management; maybe you’ve saved extra money to spend on a special day out/trip/the latest tech device – let them know how you did it, why they’re now all benefiting from your financial know-how.
Comhar Linn CU offers junior accounts for your child, so you can start them on the savings habit early! You can pay into their account via payroll deduction, and they get to be a part of one of the strongest credit unions in Ireland, a membership they can retain as adults, reaping all of the benefits that membership offers.
Step 5: Budget step-by-step for each payday:
I advise anyone struggling to save money to track every cent that is coming in and going out. Do this for at least a month and you will be surprised at where you can tighten your belt. January & February are great months for preparing for the coming year, so putting the effort in now could really reap rewards for you over the entire year ahead.
Write it down, shop around & get mindful about money:
- Track Everything.
- Write down your debt details: the amount, interest rates and time left on repayments.
- Reduce your food bill by knowing what you have at home before you shop and make a list. Plan a weekly menu ahead of your big shop and buy only what you need.
- Shop around for utility providers, big savings to be made here.
- Cancel any unused subscriptions.
- Plan your sinking funds but start small with only a few to get you going.
- Unsubscribe from promotional emails as these are tempting you to spend money on items you don’t really need and likely haven’t budgeted for.
- Set yourself monthly saving goals. Think about why you want to save money and keep that vision in mind to motivate you to keep up the savings habit.
- Practice getting mindful of your spending and use the 72 hour rule: walk away and then see if you still want it after 72 hours.
- Most expenses are not surprises. If you have an event like a Communion this year, start a sinking fund and save now, or consider Comhar Linn CU's Budget Account and let the CU help you to plan for all expenses for the year ahead.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day; making little changes now will help you get to where you want to be with the big stuff!
If you would like to talk to one of our team about any of the above products or services, please feel free to call Comhar Linn CU on 01 873 1101.
You can follow IrishBudgetingMammy on Instagram @irishbudgetingmammy