Whatever your financial situation, understanding your spending habits and setting a budget will help you make sure your money's going where you need it most.
First, you need to figure out exactly what you're spending your money on, and if there are any areas that you can cut back.
Get a few recent bank statements and work through them, making a note of payments that are necessities, payments that aren't essential, and other transactions like bank fees.
If you use cash a lot, it'll be harder to figure out where your money's going just by looking at your bank statement. Instead you could try carrying a notebook around with you for a month, and making a note of everything you spend money on each day.
If you want to try and cut down on your bank fees, it might be a good idea to review your accounts, and make sure you've got the type of account that best suits the way you make payments. Try our account selector to make sure you've got the right Kiwibank account for you, or if you're with another bank, check out our fee comparison table to see if you could save money by switching.
During uncertain economic times, insurance is even more important than usual, because it helps to protect you from the 'what ifs', like job loss, major illness, or having to replace your contents.
You should regularly review your insurance policies to make sure you've got the right cover for your needs. Use our life insurance calculator and contents calculator to help figure out the right level of cover for you.
You could also speak to Kiwibank or your insurance provider about ways to save money on your policies, like increasing your excesses, or extra discounts if you have more than one type of policy with the same provider.
You should also review any debts you have, like credit card bills, personal loans or paying off your car. Look for ways you may be able to reduce the amount of interest you pay. The best way to do this is to pay off as much of your debt as possible, as quickly as you can. Other things that could help include:
Getting more from your credit card
First up, check that you're using the best credit card to suit your needs. If you find you're paying interest on your credit card debt each month, a low rate credit card might be best for you. Or if you use your card fairly regularly and generally pay the balance off each month, you might save money with a card that has low, or no account fees.
Also keep an eye out for special deals. Banks often run balance transfer offers, where you pay a much lower interest rate for a set time if you transfer your outstanding credit card balance from another bank's credit card or store card.
Check out our other tips on getting more from your credit card.
If you have more than one debt, it may be worth looking at consolidating them into one. That way you'll only have one bill to pay, and you could save on interest.
Home loans generally have the lowest interest rates, so if you have one, you could try talking to your bank about adding a separate, short term portion to it and consolidating all your other debts into that. Otherwise, shop around for a debt consolidation personal loan or credit card with the lowest interest rate you can find, then do your sums to make sure consolidating really will save you money. Make sure the interest rate is per annum (p.a.).
If you're in doubt, talk to your bank, a financial adviser, or a free budgeting help service like Citizens Advice Bureau or the New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services.
Reviewing your home loan structure
If your fixed term home loan is due to expire soon, or you're on a variable rate, talk to your bank about how your loan's structured.
Make sure that the structure meets your needs. This involves balancing your future plans with your budget and the level of risk you're comfortable with. Take a look at our home loan options to help work out what suits you. Getting this right could save you thousands of dollars in interest and help you become mortgage free quicker. You can talk to us anytime if you need a hand.
Check out our other tips on getting mortgage free quicker.
Once you understand where your money's going, it's time to set a budget.
Use a free budgeting tool, like the one on Sorted.org.nz, or contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services for free, confidential advice.
Put as much money as you can into clearing any high interest debt, and once you've paid it off, you can use that money to start saving. As well as saving for things like a holiday, or home renovations, it's a good idea to build up an emergency account, with enough money in it for you to survive for about three months.
Also, try to put aside money for unexpected costs, like medical expenses, and regular events like birthdays and Christmas. If you can, estimate how much you need for these and save up for them gradually throughout the year.
Now that you've got your budget sorted, it's time for the hard part – sticking to it! If you can, set up payments to come out of your account the day after payday – that way you know you'll always have the funds, so you'll avoid the risk of fees for failed payments.
Make use of services on offer from your bank to help you manage your money. At Kiwibank, some of the options you may find useful include:
Remember that if you've got an automatic or future payment set up and it falls on a public holiday, the payment won't be put through until the next business day.
If your income's dropped because of a change in circumstances, or it's getting harder to make ends meet, contact us as early as possible. We'll work with you to try to find a way to ease your financial stress.
For help, call us on:
The Visa Debit Card is not available for business banking purposes, companies, trusts or organisations. Credit card balance transfers are subject to your Kiwibank approved credit limit. Interest will be charged on the amount you transfer from the date the transfer is processed. Download Kiwibank's Disclosure Statement (PDF 1.7 MB) or pick up a copy from your local Kiwibank. Important terms, conditions and exclusions are set out in the policy wording. Life Insurance is arranged by Kiwibank and is issued by Kiwi Insurance Limited, a wholly–owned subsidiary of Kiwibank.
All content is for information only, is subject to change and is not a substitute for commercial judgement or professional advice, which should be sought prior to entering any transaction. To the extent permitted by law the Bank disclaims liability or responsibility to any person for any direct or indirect loss or damage that may result from any actor omission by any person in relation to the material.