These days there is no excuse for not knowing how much money you have in your bank account. With the advent of internet banking and now mobile banking from your phone, your bank account details are just a couple of clicks away. Of course, there are some who would rather not know how much money is left in their account! However, if you want to be a good money manager then using the technology that is available now can make a huge difference to how well you look after your hard-earned dollars.
Start by setting up automatic transfers and direct debits. Automatic transfers are a useful way of splitting up your pay into categories to help you manage your money. When you are paid, put some of your pay into an account to cover all your fixed expenses, such as your mortgage or rent, rates, insurance premiums, gym membership etc.
Have another amount going into a savings account that will cover any unexpected expenses as well as holidays and home improvements. Transfer an amount into yet another account that will cover your personal expenses such as hair cuts, beauty treatments, clothes, and the fun stuff (coffees, lunches and nights out). What is left behind should be enough to pay for the necessities such as food, petrol and phone.
The next step is to make sure as many of your bills as possible, including your credit card, are paid by direct debit from your fixed expenses account. That way, you will always get your early payment discounts on your bills and you won’t pay interest on your credit card. The trick is to make sure you put enough money into your fixed expenses account each payday to cover these bills. If you don’t like the idea of direct debits, use the internet bill payment facility and set up all your payments in advance so that your bills are paid on the last day they are due but still in time to get your discount.
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Most banks now have email and TXT alerts, so that you can be notified straight away if your bank balance falls below a certain amount. This is a great way of making sure your money management system is working and your credit card balance isn’t getting too high. Alerts can also tell you when money has been paid into your account.
Mobile banking is great for when you are out shopping and you want to know how much you have spent. You can use it too if you are dining out and the restaurant will only allow one bill per table. Simply transfer your share of the bill to the payer while you are still in the restaurant.
Snapper cards are now available in the main cities and these are great for keeping track of small amounts of spending not only on bus fares, for which they were designed, but also on coffees and snacks as they are becoming more widely used. You can top up your Snapper card each week with a set amount and that will keep your spending within that limit.
If you want to get serious about budgeting, you can download your bank statements online and import them into money management software (such as Microsoft Money) so that you can easily track where all your money is going and fine tune your money management system.
For those who are serious about long term saving, most banks now offer a good range of investment funds, including KiwiSaver, to which you can contribute online. Some banks even offer online share and bond trading services so that you can build up your own investment portfolio. So go to it and use banking technology to get rich!