Monthly Archives: December 2011

Reflect on your achievements & priorities

Tammy May Says 2012 is About Goal SettingAs 2011 draws to a close, I want to congratulate each and every MyBudget client for swimming against the debt current. The fallout from the world debt crisis will continue next year, but you are already taking control of your finances.

Reflect on your achievements over the past 12 months. Even if you’ve only just joined MyBudget, taking that first step is a huge accomplishment. Give yourself the praise you deserve.

As we approach 2012, think of your budget as a roadmap and ask yourself where you would like it to take you. Perhaps debt reduction is still your priority. But as you reduce your debt you may find that your financial priorities change.

This is the time to think about those priorities and to set your goals for the New Year. Where do you want your money to take you in 2012 and beyond? Whether they are big or small, take some time over the coming days to write down your financial goals.

If you would like help with goal setting, contact our new Review & Planning Officer. Review & Planning is just one extra service we were proud to introduce in 2011 and we promise to continue extending our support services throughout 2012.

From my family to yours, I wish you prosperity, happiness and riches beyond money for the coming year!

MyBudget embraces the season for giving

MyBudget Make a Difference Program Staff Photo

Ask MyBudget staff what they love most about their jobs, and you’ll repeatedly hear the phrase “helping people.” Helping people put their lives back together is both a responsibility and an honour. For that reason, we mindfully select people to work at MyBudget who put the company’s core values into practice every day.

Christmas is an especially important period for us. We understand that it puts people and their finances under pressure. It’s a time of year when we can really make a difference…

Make A Difference program

For the second year in a row, MyBudget’s Make A Difference program has distributed money to worthy clients in time for Christmas. $6,000 has been distributed in varying amounts between 13 MyBudget clients.

Their heart-wrenching stories tell of hardship and adversity, and situations which were beyond their control, including flood, illness and plain bad luck.

Tammy May read each entry personally and commented, “Make A Difference money won’t necessarily repair these people’s lives, but it will help towards a better Christmas.”

MyBudget Social Club focuses on clients in need

The MyBudget Social Club usually celebrates Christmas by exchanging Kris Kringle gifts with each other, but this year they decided to embrace the spirit of giving differently.

Social club members pooled their money to prepare Christmas gifts for 11 lucky clients. The clients were selected from remaining entries in the Make A Difference program.

Chantelle selected a client couple who, like her, are animal lovers. Unable to have children of their own, these clients are mum and dad to four “fur babies.” One of their babies has suffered a mystery illness throughout 2011 which has resulted in expensive vet costs and put them behind in their bills. Another of the babies ruined the family’s couch.

Helping Clients in Debt at Christmas

Chantelle used social club contributions and her own funds to make these clients a pet-friendly Christmas hamper, and she located a free couch on GumTree.com.au.

Tammy May commented, “I’m very proud of MyBudget staff for being such genuine and caring people. Our core values aren’t empty concepts. They’re actions we practice every day in big and small ways to make our clients’ lives better.”

 

By Kylie Hughes, guest writer

Shocked by your power bill? What you can do.

 

Electricity Bill Shock

The Advertiser reported on the weekend that by 2014 the cost of electricity is set to increase by $702 for the average South Australian household.

While SA is anticipated to be one of the worst affected states, utility price rises are putting household budgets under extreme pressure all over the country. An increasing number of Australians are finding it difficult to pay their bills. So what should you do if you can’t pay yours?

Start by communicating with your utility provider. Contact the company and explain you’re having difficulty paying your bill. Ask the company to tell you about discounts, relief schemes and any other financial support services they provide.

Don’t ignore calls and letters from your utility provider. Your power can only be disconnected after the company has followed certain steps, but if you ignore their communications you may find that the process progresses without your knowledge.

Work out your household budget in advance so you know what sort of instalments you can afford. Your utility retailer will use a financial model which takes into account your other financial commitments and capacity to pay your bills, but you should be prepared in advance by doing your own calculations. Also look at the company’s website or ask their representative for information about their financial hardship policy.

It’s very important that you stick to the instalment plan you negotiate. If you break the plan, this may affect your ability to negotiate alternative payment arrangements in the future. Creating a workable, realistic budget is one of the most important keys to staying on track.

Lastly, fixed network charges will make up a sizeable proportion of your electricity bill, but you can still cut costs by being mindful about how you use power around your home. Check out my tips for reducing your power use at home.

Last minute Christmas tips

 

Australian Christmas

At MyBudget, we’re approaching some of our busiest months of the year. The New Year will bring with it hundreds of phone calls and emails every week from people asking for our help. Having stretched themselves too far, many of them will be experiencing the financial aftershock of Christmas.

 

The good news is that we can help most people get back on track quickly. But the best cure for financial stress is to avoid it in the first place. With that in mind, here are some last minute Christmas tips that might save you some grey hairs and a few dollars.

Leave your credit card at home. When you’re shopping for Christmas presents and groceries over the coming weeks, do it with cash. Cash is better than your debit card because it’s a visual reminder in your purse or wallet. You can even organize it into separate envelopes—and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Don’t leave home without a list. Prepare your shopping list before you leave the house and stick to it. This includes shopping for Christmas presents—know how much you can afford, what you’re going to buy and for who.

Get creative. Avoid overpriced glacé fruit, handkerchiefs and boring neckties. Why not make cheap, cheery and thoughtful gifts for your loved ones? Biscuits, cake, potted plants, photo books and framed photos are a few ideas.

Start storing and freezing. Now is the time to scour supermarket catalogues for discounts and specials. Some vegetable dishes can be made in advance, frozen, then reheated for Christmas Day.

Don’t shop for yourself until after Christmas. It’s tempting to get festive by including a few little treats for yourself. Resist! Wait for the post-Christmas sales and to see what Santa brings you.

Tighten your belt. The festive season is hard on people’s pocket for all sorts of reasons—gift-giving, Christmas parties, reduced hours at work—which means that right now is the time to take a serious look at your spending habits and see if there are any areas where you can cut back over the coming weeks. The little things add up—take your lunch to work, stop buying take-away coffee, stay at home on Saturday night, try a cheaper bottle of wine, cook at home instead of buying take-away.

Plan your special Christmas. Popular images of Christmas (piles of presents, lavish decorations, enough food to feed an army) are largely marketing ploys to make us to spend, spend, spend. But your Christmas doesn’t have to be “typical” to be special and wonderful. Why not take sandwiches to a local park? How about a picnic at the beach or a barbecue at home?