Budgeting

Throwback Thursday: 5 Ways to Look A Million Dollars On a Budget

October 8, 2013

Is it possible to look a million dollars on a shoestring budget? Money expert Kerry Lotzof gives her top tips for frugal fashionistas.

Stylist to the stars Rachel Zoe is known for her chic fusion of high end designer fashion with vintage touches and quirky second-hand accessories.  You may not have Rachel’s budget, but by channelling her open minded approach to style you can put together fashion forward looks that won’t empty your bank account.

Whether you take inspiration from Dita Von Teese’s impeccable retro look or mix it up like Kate Bosworth, with her irreverent combinations of high and low fashion, these tips will help you build an enviable wardrobe for a lot less than you’d think.

1. Shop like a collector

Stop thinking about yourself as a shopaholic and start thinking of yourself as a collector. Once you’ve got all your basics covered an item that looks “ok” shouldn’t be enough to have you reach for your wallet. If a new piece doesn’t move you and make you want to wear it every single day, put it back on the rack. Collectors wouldn’t spend on something second rate or ill fitting and neither should you. Whether you’re shopping at Target or Chanel, keep an eye on the detail and make designers work for your hard earned.

Spending time at vintage fairs, flea markets and second hand stores in posh neighbourhoods can yield amazing finds like immaculate vintage dresses and unwanted Ferragamo or Bally heels for less than $10. You can also check out what’s available online through Etsy and eBay, and mix it up with high street basics and the odd designer splurge. Behaving like a collector (and the fussier the better) will give you an inimitable style and ensure your closet doesn’t fill up with unloved impulse purchases.

2. Designer crush? Find it cheaper online

If you’ve fallen in love with a designer piece that’s a must-have budget breaker, take a deep breath before you swipe – a quick coffee with your smartphone to shop the item out online can save you hundreds of dollars. You’ll be surprised what current fashions can be found in as-new form for a fraction of the price. Savvy fashionistas treat stores as a place to look and try then go home to buy online.

3. Coupons – not just for grandma

Today, coupon websites like retailmenot.com.au and Ozbargain.com.au are making it ridiculously easy to take your fashion dollar further. Don’t swipe your card or proceed to checkout ever again before checking if there’s a coupon for what you’re about to buy. A 30 second search can bring up coupons for things like free delivery and loyalty gifts, and anywhere between $5 and 75% off your fashion purchases. On average, retailmenot.com.au customers find a way to save $20 from a quick visit to the site and most retailers will accept them at the counter as well as online.

4. Make sure your shopping loyalty is actually being rewarded

How you pay can make a big difference to how rewarding your purchase is. The bad news for loyal ‘points collectors’ is that the goalposts keep moving. In fact, Mozo recently found that over a third of rewards cards now lose you money, charging higher annual fees than can realistically be earned each year in rewards. If you’re spending less than $17,000 a year on your rewards card it’s probably not working in your favour meaning you’d be much better off with a low fee credit or debit card. The fastest way to find out if your card is eating into your fashion budget is to jump on mozo.com.au and see how your card compares. If you aren’t getting a good deal, be ruthless – a better card means less fees and more shoes!

5.  Swap, sell, up-cycle

Most of us only use about 10% of our wardrobes, throwing on the same easy favourites every day and neglecting a growing pile of barely-worn impulse purchases. If you don’t love an item, think about swapping it, selling it or up-cycling. If you have friends the same size as you, organise a closet swap to freshen up your look, or pop unwanted items on eBay and free up the cash (and closet space) for new stuff you really want. Also if you’re handy with needle and thread a little embellishment can go a long way, turning a neglected T-shirt or cardi into a compliment generator.

Kerry Lotzof, a.k.a. “The girl in the green” is a vintage fashion addict and writer, covering lifestyle and finance topics for comparison site mozo.com.au, Australia’s money saving zone.

April 30, 2015

Eating Organic On A Budget

There’s plenty of advice out there why eating organic is the best option for you and your family, yet, the cost of organic food can seem prohibitive. If you’ve ever considered making the switch but couldn’t see how to make it work for you, here are some tips to help you eat organic within your budget.

RELATED: Is Organic Food Worth The Price?

It’s not all or nothing

You don’t have to change your entire diet in one go. Start small and change a few items that you eat often, and you will already be reducing your intake of pesticides.

Look out for organic when shopping

When you go shopping, don’t automatically reach for the brand you’re used to, but compare the prices of organic and non-organic products first. Sometimes you will find that the difference in price is negligible or organic items can even be cheaper when they’re on special.

Buy seasonal

Fruit and veggies are always cheaper when they are in season and if you buy local, there won’t be any transportation cost added to your product to deliver it from somewhere else.

Replace products that are highest in pesticides

Some foods retain more pesticides than others and are best to buy organic. Some of these are apples, celery, peaches, nectarines, cucumbers and strawberries. Other non-organic foods have less pesticides and if you’re changing your diet little by little, here are some of the items to replace last: asparagus, mangoes, avocado, cabbage and onions. You can download a list of the best and worst products to buy organic from www.foodnews.org and carry it with you when you go shopping.

Join a buying co-op

An affordable way to buy organic is to get together with other local families and buy wholesale. If you can’t find a co-op in your area, start one. Not only you’ll get your organic food cheaper, you’ll also find a community of like-minded people, which always helps. Change is easier when you’re not doing it alone.

Eating organic doesn’t have to break the bank, you just have to make it a priority and get creative with it.

Image via pixabay.com

March 22, 2015

Money Saving Tips For Families

Since the Federal Budget was announced last month, families have been left feeling short changed and everyone is searching for ways to save money wherever they can.  Some savings can seem so insignificant but when you add that to all of the other money you can salvage, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much more money you have in your pocket.  

Buy second-hand or borrow from friends

Especially when it comes to new baby items, think about buying them second hand or borrowing from friends if you’ll only be using them for a short period of time.  A lot of second hand items have only been used a handful of times and you’ll be paying a fraction of the cost of a new one.

Sell unused items that you no longer need

Getting rid of those baby items that are collecting dust in the cupboard is an easy way to put some extra money back in your pocket.  If you find your house needs a general clean out, consider a garage sale – you’ll be surprised at what you think is junk, is actually someone else’s treasure.

Shop at markets and buy home brands at the supermarkets

Fruit and vegetables are generally cheaper if you can purchase them from farmers markets rather than supermarkets.  When you do shop at the supermarket purchase the home brands which are generally cheaper than the well-known brands and are almost identical in quality.

Shop around for suppliers

When your insurance products come up for renewal, shop around to see if you are getting the best value for money.  While you’re at it, check on your home loan, electricity, phone, internet and gas suppliers.

Buy non-perishables in bulk

Look out for specials and buy non-perishable items such as nappies and wipes in bulk where possible.  Think twice about buying fruit and vegetables in bulk though as sometimes they tend to go off before you’ve had a chance to use them and that’s just money going straight into your rubbish bin.

Layby for Christmas/birthdays

Be organised early and start a layby for those big Christmas or birthday presents.  Taking a small amount out of your income each week is far easier to manage than shopping last minute for expensive items.

Sign up to a toy library

Toy libraries are a great way to get new toys, books or educational resources for your children without having to purchase them.  For a fee you can hire the items for a set amount of time then return them for new ones once you are finished with them.

Buy a water purifier

If you’re buying a large bottle of water every day, over the course of the year it could cost you around $1500.  Consider purchasing a water purifier at a fraction of the cost which you can use time and time again.

Buy a coffee machine

Again, if you’re paying $5 for a takeaway coffee every day (which doesn’t even include those extra shots) it equates to $1825 each year.  The cost of purchasing a basic espresso coffee machine and some ground coffee will normally work out considerably cheaper in the long run.

Use a piggy bank

Some people think piggy banks are only for children – not true!  Each week put your loose change into a piggy bank and after a year you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the hundreds of dollars you’ve saved within. 

Image via thinkglink.com/2013/02/26/10-simple-easy-ways-save-money/

By Karyn Miller

June 4, 2014

5 Ways to Get Your Finances in Order (For Good!)

Most of us resolve to get our finances in order at the start of a new year (along with our diet, health, relationships…) but how many of us see that through? Well, maybe this is the year you take control and whip your finances into shape.

While growing your savings is no easy feat, a little bit of careful planning, teamed with a strategic budget, can go a long way towards helping you reach your financial goals in 2014 and beyond, whether that be paying off your credit card debt,  reducing your mortgage, or saving for a holiday or your first home.

Mortgage Choice spokesperson Jessica Darnbrough offers a few money saving tips and real-life pointers to help us stick to our financial goals this year.

1. Avoid unnecessary extras and costs
Evaluate your regular outgoings and identify any unnecessary costs which you can cut down or cut out. Cutting back on guilty pleasures like takeaway coffees, Friday night takeaway or premium television packages can lead to significant savings in the long term.

2. Think small when budgeting
Planning ahead with your finances for a full year can be daunting, and ultimately, ineffective. Instead, budget monthly or in accordance with the length of your pay period. This will allow you to amend your budget fairly quickly if you over overestimate or underestimate certain expenses.

3. Update your savings account
Research the benefits offered by savings accounts across various financial institutions. Switching banks and opening a new account with a lending institution that offers lower fees and higher interest rates will allow you to save more in less time.

4. Pay off and cancel your credit card
Credit card interest rates are notoriously high. Constant use without complete payment at the end of the month can lead to significant debt. Many people get stuck using a credit card and struggle to break the cycle as interest continues to accrue. Make paying off your credit card a priority early in the year, and cancel it as soon as possible. Debit cards are an ideal alternative, providing a similar level of protection for online and over the phone purchases, without the significant interest rates.

5. Compare to find a better deal
You may be paying more than is necessary on your home loan, insurances, utility bills, etc. Comparing your options via your mortgage broker or websites such as HelpMeChoose.com.au can help you find the best deal suited to your needs and save you money in the process.

For more budgeting tips and home loan options visit www.mortgagechoice.com.au.

What are your best money savings tips? Share them in the comments!

January 13, 2014

How to Save $6386 a Year by Getting Smart With Your Bills

My guess is you spend more time dwelling on your Facebook status than your financial one… planning your Pinterest board than your interest hoard…linking in than stopping money leaking out.

But it is. And the irony is that technology is making the flow faster.

A growing phenomenon I’ve dubbed Digitally Induced Laziness sees us blithely ignore all the automatic payments that come out of our accounts each month – allowing oh-so-convenient to become oh-so-conned.

Providers of everything from utilities to financial services rely on their bill-DIL existing customers to fund big discounts to entice new ones. You may even find your deal gets slowly worse.

Here is where you’re likely to be losing the most money.

Your mortgage

The big banks are exploiting your electronic inertia big time. The difference between the standard variable rate offered by the Big 4 and the most competitive mortgage on the market has swelled to a shocking 1.42 percentage points. Historically they’ve only skimmed 1 point or so off the top. Today you’ll pay 5.91 per cent versus just 4.49 per cent, which means you could save on the average $300,000 mortgage a massive $75,000 in interest.

Possible saving: $250 a month; $3000 a year. BUT it’s possible to take this total interest saving from $75,000 to $122,644 without paying an additional cent… you simply need to maintain your repayments at their existing level. This means you’ll also clear your debt more than five years early, after which your money is your own. And your big-bank lender may even agree to match this if you threaten to leave.

Your electricity

For all the talk about big increases in the price of electricity, and some areas have seen hikes of four times the rate of inflation in the past five years, you can actually make huge savings. A family can save a big chunk by moving to a better offer; you just need to be wary of contracts that commit you for a period of time as you may end up stuck on an increasingly uncompetitive deal.

Possible saving: $386 a year, says Market researcher Energy Watch.

Your insurances

You could probably be paying 15 per cent less on every single general insurance policy – think car, home and contents. The potential savings could be even higher with risk insurers like life or income protection providers, but because of age or health history it can be trickier to change. You could also save a truckload on your health insurance – and bear in mind that laws designed to keep health insurance competitive dictate that you do not have to re-serve waiting period for hospital cover.

Possible savings: More than $2000 a year.

Your telecommunications

New players are massively shaking things up when it comes to your mobile phone and your data plans. Look into signing up with a new provider as soon as you get off a phone contract; you’ll be stunned by the savings now on offer. Consider also bundling your internet into the deal to save a bucketload more.

Possible saving: Maybe $1000 a year (and that’s assuming you’ve already been tech savvy enough to get on to Voice-over Internet Protocol like Skype  for overseas calls).

Screen time of a different kind could yield big results if you’ve inadvertently become a bill DIL. In fact, swap Instagram for an hour a month for probably an instant grand.

Fess up – how much time do you spend each month dealing with your finances?

Nicole is the founder of TheMoneyMentorWay.com and developer of the 12-Step Prosperity Plan, an achievable and even enjoyable blueprint to take Aussies from worry to wealthy. Nicole’s writing has earned her top personal finance awards in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Her career credits include founding and editing The Australian Financial Review’s Smart Investor magazine, and reporting and editing for the magazine arm of the UK’s Financial Times. Author, qualified financial adviser and Fairfax’s Money Matters columnist for the last decade, Nicole is a regular on television and radio. She talks money without the mumbo jumbo. Follow her on Twitter at @NicolePedMcK.

September 30, 2013

6 Smart Money Moves


Unlike days gone by, no truly savvy Aussie gal waits for a knight in shining armour to come and whisk her away. Yep, harsh, but true. Sure, we would all love a debonair millionaire to just rock up at the next party but sometimes life simply doesn’t happen like a Melrose Place episode!

The reality is, whether you are rich, poor, or in between, the person that you are going to have to rely on the most to keep you from the poor-house is yourself. Don’t panic though all it takes is some dedication and planning, a little creativity and some street smarts.

Here are 6 easy tips to get you on your way.

  1. Get together a Budget and Spending Plan

    By establishing a budget, you are taking a major step to identify untapped resources that can be directed to new investments. Until you feel that you have a true handle on spending , ask yourself, do I need this or do I want it?

  2. Pay Yourself First

    You need to work out the amount of money you need to have in your nest egg, before you start investing. Work out what you need each month if a “worse case” scenario occurs. You can do this by multiplying your net income by three or having about two months worth of ’emergency funds’ saved. The excess can then be safely used for investments.

  3. Get Started Today

    With an understanding of money management and investing, you can set financial goals and create a strategy to meet those goals.

  4. Get Professional Financial Advice

    Preparation and planning is the key to reach your financial goals. The sooner you start planning, the more thankful you will be further down the track.

  5. Be Your Own Money Expert

    Most of us kind of glaze over when it comes to money talk, simply because we don’t speak or understand the jargon of the economists or financial community. Why not demystify the jargon and educate yourself? Dip into the online money sites or start with The Money Book, by Annette Sampson for a good all round introduction. Or read the all time classic, The Richest Man in Babylon, for a truly inspirational kick-start.

  6. Funds: The Basics

    For busy women who haven’t the time or skill to study and pick their own stocks or property investments, mutual funds offer professional management and ease of mind.

January 23, 2002

Solution to 5 Common Money Crisis

We solve your biggest cash dilemmas!

Your next money crisis – solved!

Don’t turn a money drama into a crisis! We all have enough money concerns without extra problems, right? Here’s how to minimalise the damage and keep your stress levels down, in case one of these common money issues occurs in your life.

“My credit card was rejected!”

Calmly offer another card, a cheque, or to pay cash. Once home, call your card issuer to find out how far you’ve exceeded your spending limit and request a higher limit if you think you need one. If you have a good credit record, many will do this on the spot. To prevent such an embarrassing problem (it has happened to most of us at some time!) happening again, keep a running tally of all your charges on a piece of paper in your wallet.

“A friend won’t/can’t repay the money he/she owes me!”

Propose a payment schedule in which they deliver the money in small instalments. If they still won’t pay, have a letter drafted by a lawyer, which will probably shake them into action. If they ignore it, follow through on your threats of legal action – who needs friends like that anyway.

“I lost my wallet/handbag in a foreign country.”

Were you robbed? If so report the crime and get a police report; you may need it later to recoup losses. If your wallet contained an American Express Card or Travellers Cheques, call Amex immediately, or visit one of its offices. If you also lost your passport, police stations in most countries will provide a letter authorising your departure from the country. If you can’t communicate with them, or can’t find a police station – and you also – head for the nearest English-speaking Embassy. If you lose your air tickets, call the airline and report it immediately and ask to collect reissued tickets or travel on electronic tickets.

“I crashed my car!”

If your car sustained major damage, or if another car was involved, call your insurance company immediately to file a claim. If it looks as though the damage to either car will cost over $5000, you must call the police to the scene. Also stop other drivers or pedestrians who may have witnessed the accident – especially if it wasn’t your fault – and take their details. If a car hits you and doesn’t stop, try to catch sight of their number -plate. Keep quiet, however, about a minor accident involving repairs that don’t wildly exceed your no-claim bonus. You’re better off paying the bill yourself.

“I can’t make a loan repayment!”

If you missed this month’s due date but you’ll have the money within the next 30 days, just call to tell the company to whom you owe the money and request an extension. You may be charged a late fee, but one late payment won’t do major damage to your credit rating. Have a long, tough financial period coming up? Call the lender, explain your situation and ask for more lenient repayment terms. They’ll often agree to collect less now to prevent default later.

July 1, 2001

10 Ways to Have Fun with Finance (cont’d)

  1. Stop saving for a rainy day – Invest for some sunny days!

    ‘Play’ or ‘Freedom’ money is cash set aside to give you the freedom to take advantage of an opportunity when it comes along. And those opportunities are definitely out there. Saving for a rainy day means putting money aside for when the cappuccino maker blows up, or the plumbing packs it in. Useful situations to have money for, but what about putting that saved money to work for you and building on it. Talk to a financial planner.

  2. Do you suffer from the Cinderella complex?

    Any Cinderella clones out there? Do you secretly harbour a belief or hope that one day a dashing Prince Charming will rescue you from financial destitution, and take care of you forever? This belief will single-handedly block you from achieving your true financial potential unless you do something about it now! As financial strategist Belinda Cheong says, Prince Charming may come along on his white horse, but what if he’s broke! Or he’s rich, but a bastard! Remember, any Prince Charming worth his salt will find a financially independent woman ten times sexier than a co-dependent one.

  3. Believe that Wealth and Happiness can go hand in hand.

    Let go of all your ‘scarcity’ beliefs about money, such as “money is the root of all evil”, or “you can’t be happy and rich”. Whatever you choose to believe, will happen. You can be rich and happy – but only if you believe it, and only if you put a plan in place to make it happen. Remove the words “I can’t afford that” from your vocabulary. Instead, choose to say, “I am awaiting abundance”, or “Soon, I will be able to afford that.” The more you reinforce the positive state of your finances, the faster it will happen for you. Remember, being broke is temporary; being poor is a state of mind.

  4. Write your own shower statement!

    Constantly focusing on your lack of wealth, the debts and bills to pay, and your financial stress means all that will come into your life is poverty, bills, and stress. Yuck. Start focusing on what you do want. Write a financial vision statement – listing your financial goals and dreams. Write a ‘shower statement’ such as ‘every day, I am becoming more financially successful”, or “I am financially and emotionally abundant, I experience wealth in my life every day.” Stick it on your shower wall, and repeat it aloud every morning. Start making yourself feel good.

  5. Make a decision to start now.

    It’s easy to say that you’ll start paying attention to your finances as soon as you’ve paid off your debts, or as soon as you’ve settled these whopping bills. Stop procrastinating. The time to start is now. When you are in charge of your finances, you are in charge of your life. Go and see a financial planner for advice and get the money ball rolling. As Napoleon Hill in ‘Think & Grow Rich’ said, “Anybody can wish for riches, and most people do, but only a few know that a definite plan plus a burning desire for wealth, are the only dependable means of accumulating wealth.”

Kate Hurdley, a qualified Personal Success & Values Coach/Therapist, works with action-oriented women who want to live passionate, rewarding lives. Kate also runs Serenity & Success, an inspirational seminar series targeted at business owners, entrepreneurs and ‘career girls’. These seminars are aimed at helping busy, ambitious people achieve life balance, inspiration and self-awareness.

For details about upcoming seminars, or personal success coaching/therapy, contact Kate at Inspired Excellence on 0414 389 354 or by email: kate@inspiredexcellence.com.au

Belinda Cheong was a speaker at the launch of Serenity & Success seminar series run by Inspired Excellence (0414 389 354). A financial strategist and planner, Belinda is committed to educating people about finance and wealth creation in a fun, uncomplicated way. For more information contact Belinda at Argyle Financial Strategists (Canberra), on (02) 6234 8111, or email her at: argylefinancialstrategists@hotmail.com

January 1, 2001