Busy professional parents often find that the “mental load” of juggling kids, life and a career means that making those little changes to boost their financial fitness can fall further down the list. As a working mum also managing a side gig, Rani Cohen from WeekDay Space has found there are little things that don’t take a huge effort when spread across the year, yet they can make a big difference to the family budget. Please see below her top 5 hacks.
1. Annual household provider review
The sad thing about most of the providers we use for electricity, health insurance, pay-per-view television etc. is that they will rarely offer you a better deal unless you ask or even threaten to switch. Every year I put a week in the diary to do some research on alternate suppliers for all my major household expenses. Often this can save you hundreds of dollars a month. I recall feeling somewhat elated one year when I managed to find an extra $250 a month just by switching family health insurance, renegotiating with my internet/TV provider and changing electricity supplier. That’s an extra family holiday right there!
2. Taking advantage of free local resources
I am going to put my hand up here and say that until I discovered Baby Rhyme Time, I had no idea that local libraries were such an amazing resource. Until then I had been regularly buying age appropriate books, DVDs etc. And who can’t resist still buying books as, frankly, they are such a great thing for your children to own. But boy, was I was amazed that you could access new release DVDs, audio books for big kids (like me and hubby) and keep your little ones stocked up with new-age relevant books and TV series every week. Not to mention the free events that many local councils hold for families to attend and enjoy. Proving that best things in life can actually be free!
3. Side gigs that utilise your extra space
Everyone knows that the share economy is one of the most popular ways out there to make extra money. A recent survey by finder.com.au found that Aussies are earning an average of an extra $7300 a year from side jobs - which would go a long way on the family budget! But if you already have a day job you probably don’t want to take something on that is going to take a lot of extra time or effort. Platforms such as Spacely where you can rent unwanted storage space or WeekDay Space where you rent a spare room to a professional or student lodger during the week (and have your room back on weekends) are great ways to utilise unused space without a huge time commitment.
4. Wisely using rewards programs
Now there is some debate around whether credit card reward programs are worth your while. However, often you can negotiate a better deal with a reward program in line with your mortgage and redraw facility. If you are putting all your expenses on a credit card and clearing it each month, then it can be a great way to also accrue reward points toward extra holidays or other items. Lately, I have found rewards are a great way to buy gifts for birthdays and the like that usually would come from our disposable income. With a bit of planning you can also get some great quality gifts without having to outlay cash.
5. Refinancing loans
Similar to the annual household provider review, often the only way to get a better deal on your mortgage and loans is to do a loan review directly with your bank or through a broker. You may not do this annually (I do this every couple of years) but it means you always have the complete picture of what is available to you, and small interest rate changes can make a big difference in the long term. It might take a little bit of paperwork but may be well worth it in terms of factoring in future interest rises.
Rani Cohen is from WeekDay Space. WeekDay Space is about connecting people with a home away from home Monday to Friday. People on short term contracts, on secondment, studying, starting new jobs or with long daily commutes.