By Katie Smallwood
Chartered Accountant, mum of 2 kids
A mixed message eulogy for the family budget
If you are familiar with my budgeting advice then hopefully you will find that there are months where you are likely to be rolling around the floor flinging money in the air like you just do not care. If not, then there will be months where each bill being paid is like pulling a nail out of your finger slowly… using marshmallows. This fluctuation in available funds often leads to relying on credit cards to pay bills, buy groceries or just basically survive in these hard times.
I would really like to be talking about how much I think credit cards are terrible for the family budget and they should all be drawn and quartered. Actually an advantage which is seldom considered is that you can pay your bills and all the while your money can stay in your bank account earning interest as long as possible, usually at a grand old rate of 2%.
The credit cards themselves are lovely, especially if you are rocking the sleek black look. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with using the credit cards if you can pay the entire balance owing each month on time. Then you have no interest fees and no overdue fees. Unfortunately that is just not reality for many families who embark on the practice I like to call rollercoaster-ing, or riding the credit cards.
The problem with credit cards only arises when you can’t pay the total balance due each month. This leads to my absolute pet hate, above all other pet hates I may have including the way my son grinds his teeth. Interest. Oh how I loathe paying interest on credit cards and the way they are able to fleece customers with their interest rates is highway robbery. That being said I would be lying if I said I haven’t ever paid interest on my credit cards.
These are the times when I have to put expenses on my credit cards knowing they wont be paid off that month – that’s when I ride my cards.
If this sounds like you then my two pieces of advice for following while you are paying the cards off are:
- Trying the minimise the interest you will be paying can be a bit of a balance between paying the cards with the highest balance and the cards with the highest interest rate. If you have credit card debts you need to be aware of this information, as you don’t want to pay a dollar more of interest than you have to.
- Always make sure you meet the minimum monthly payment due for all your cards so that you don’t get charged any overdue fees.
If you manage to get off the rollercoaster ride, try to put the cards away in a locked box or similar to avoid the temptation. Even the good old-fashioned envelope budgets are better than paying interest to companies who really don’t need it.
Rose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’. Visit www.thefitbusymum.com.au