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Money matters

How you manage your money, where you put it, and the types of banking products you use, can have a huge impact on how much you are able to save, the fees and interest you pay and the overall health of your account balances. Here are some articles to help you along the way.

One of the keys to managing your money effectively is to know what you’ve got. When you set up automatic transfers, sometimes money comes and goes from your accounts and unless you’re super organized you can easily lose track of what is coming out
and when.

The availability of online banking on tablets, laptops and smart phones everywhere you go means you never have to be in the dark about your current balance again!  If in doubt, check it out.

Of course, you can always go old skool and check your account balances, or transfer money to your card or transaction account before you leave home.

bcu toolbox – BPAY View

BPAY View is an electronic bill service that allows you to view and pay your bills through the security of bcu iBank.

To receive your bills via BPAY View, just log onto iBank and follow the prompts. Many major utilities companies, Councils and organizations offer this service, which was designed to save the environment, by reducing paper bills, and to make bill paying
more convenient.

A budget is just a tool to help you track where your money comes from and goes to. It’s a plan to help you achieve a certain goal, whether it be saving a certain amount or just paying all of your bills on time.

Your budget will be doomed from the start if you’re not realistic – if your morning latte is something you aren’t prepared to live without, be sure it rates a mention on your budget.

The more detailed you are, the tighter control you will have to identify any spending ‘leaks’.

Being organized is the key – know what income you have, what your expenses are and when bills are expected – then plan for it.

If you have trouble making a budget because you don’t know what you spend each week on things like petrol, electricity and groceries, you may need to go back through bank and credit card statements and pull out all of your electricity, phone and utility bills and average them across a year. If this sounds like too much hard work, you could commit to keeping a spending diary for a month where everything you spend is recorded.

Try the bcu household budget calculator here

If you have a goal, like a holiday, new car, renovation or your child’s education to plan for, the best way to make it happen is to draw yourself a roadmap that clearly describes how to get from A  - where you are now; to B – where you want to be.

Start by working out how much money you will need to achieve your goal. Then, work out how much you can afford to put away each week or month towards that goal.

bcu toolbox – sub accounts

Want to be more disciplined with your saving? Automate your savings with a periodic payment direct to a free sub-account. You can personalise the name of your sub-account for added inspiration – call it ‘Fiji’, ‘new wheels’, golf clubs – whatever you like!

Set up your sub-account in store, on iBank or by calling 1300 228 228. Once that’s done, you can manage your periodical payments on iBank, so the money comes out before you even miss it.

Information is the key when you want to minimise your interest payments. If you have a credit card, make sure you know what the interest-free period is (bcu credit cards offer up to 55-days interest free) and the conditions around this. Likewise, if you have a home loan, you might be able to take advantage of an offset facility to reduce the interest component of your repayments. Or, there’s always the tried and true “pay any lump sums into your home loan and make repayments fortnightly instead of monthly”. Of course, if you can afford to pay a little extra off your home loan each month, this is a surefire way to pay your loan off faster and reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

It may seem cliché, but when it comes to reducing interest, every little bit counts!

bcu toolbox – offset facility

Ask about a bcu offset facility by calling 1300 228 228.

If you can’t help yourself and just love to shop, you might be able to curb your spending but still enjoy the thrill of the buy with some patience and research. Shop around, wait for sales and stock up when items are heavily reduced.

If takeaway meals and eating out are burning through your cash reserves, you can always search for deals on the back of shopping dockets, find out if local eateries have a weekday or early-bird special or try to replicate your favourite curry or fast food with supermarket alternative which will take very little effort and cost you a fraction of the restaurant version.

Another way to calm the urge to spend is to give yourself a cooling off period. If you want something (note: want, not need) mark it on the calendar or set yourself an alert on your phone for 7 days. If you still want it when the alarm goes off, go for it! But chances are your interest will have subsided as the urge to buy passes and you find you don’t really have to have it after all.

bcu toolbox – member2member discount.

As a bcu member, you are eligible to receive m2m discounts from participating bcu business members just by showing your bcu card. Visit our online m2m listing to see where you can save.

For many households, the grocery shop is one of the biggest expenses each week. These grocery shopping money saving tips are tried and true, so here’s a reminder:

  • Shop less frequently and buy in bulk
  • Shop online (if available) so you can set up a list of regular essentials and know how much you are spending before it’s spent. This allows you to substitute and remove items if you’ve blown the budget.
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry
  • Don’t get swayed by the kid’s demands – marketing is often aimed at them, and it works, so put pester power to rest and stick to your guns.
  • Select a smaller trolley – you won’t be tempted to fill it up.
  • Prepare to make it from scratch – avoid frozen meals and pre-packaged gourmet treats if you’re sticking to a tight budget.

We understand that from time to time, our members may face temporary periods of financial hardship. Despite your best intentions, situations which arise out of blue and are often beyond your control may make it difficult for you to meet your loan and /or credit card repayments.

At bcu, we encourage you to contact us soon as possible so we can work with you during this period. We have specialist staff who can tailor assistance measures to suit your circumstances. And because everyone’s circumstances are different, each situation will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Examples of circumstances include:-

  • Injury or Illness
  • Unemployment or loss / reduction of income
  • Divorce or Relationship Breakdown
  • Natural Disaster

How to apply for financial hardship assistance from bcu

Information about financial hardship assistance may be obtained by contacting bcu staff at your local bcu store or by phoning us on 1300 228 228.

Other assistance

Financial Counselling Services is another alternative available if you are experiencing financial difficulty. These free, confidential and independent services are available in every Australian state and territory . These services can help you manage in the short term and plan to prevent any future difficulties and, more importantly, can help you remain independent and in full control of your financial affairs.

For further information please visit the Australian Securities & Investments Commission website www.moneysmart.gov.au