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Mark's Budget Saver Blog - Part 2

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Read Part 2 of Mark's Budget Saver Blog.

Magic Happens

When I gave my Budget Schedule to Helen, the Lending Manager, she entered the monthly figures into a “magical” spreadsheet. Not only does it work out how much you need to put in the Budget Saver each month, but it also calculates the overdraft required. Some people (including me) are a bit hesitant about getting an overdraft, but you don’t need to worry. It’s only there to cover the heavy months (ours is September) and the interest payments are negligible – if you manage the account properly. I have had the account for 4 months and so far I have not paid a cent in interest. Anyway, the Lending Manager told me I should apply for a $3,000 overdraft. I filled in the loan application form (which was much easier than I imagined) and I got approval in a day or two.

Final Preparations

So I was set to start using the Budget Saver from 1 April. Was I a fool, or would I defeat my bills once and for all? It would be easy to pay bills from the Budget Saver using BPAY or IB transfer; I just had to remember to select S4 instead of S1 – but what about my direct debits?  I had about 10 set up with different organisations but I didn’t want to contact each of them and inform them of my new account details. That would take time and involve more forms! Luckily I was informed by Piers, our Operations Manager, that First Option could manage the whole process for me. They simply looked up my existing direct debits and switched them from my S1 to my S4 – problem solved. The only thing left to do was to transfer a fixed amount into the Budget Saver each month, so I set up a monthly reminder on my phone. Easy!

Monthly Management

To track how the account is going, I just log in to Internet or Mobile Banking. This gives me both my current balance and my available balance – which includes my overdraft. At the end of each month, I also check my statement. It’s a lot easier now, as most of the transactions in my S1 are discretionary expenses, such as restaurants and groceries, while my S4 Budget Saver has my regular bills.

Managing Change

In early August, my wife went back to work, so we needed to adjust our Budget Schedule to include before and after school care. When I opened the Budget Schedule in Excel to make the changes, I thought it was worthwhile to see how we were tracking after the first 4 months. The spreadsheet already had my estimated monthly expenses, so I just needed to add my actual monthly bills and expenses. This was easily done by downloading my S4 transactions from Internet Banking into an Excel file. To my surprise, I was $341 over my budget (over 4 months) and that included the 10% contingency for variances. A pretty good result. Perhaps the cold winter has increased our heating bills! Anyway, my next step is to adjust the Budget Schedule and visit Helen, the Lending Manager again. I might need to increase my overdraft and put a bit more into the Budget Saver each month.

Conclusion

After four months, the Budget Saver has been a success in my opinion. Whether it’s real or perceived, I feel that I have a better handle on my bills. It’s also much easier to go through my everyday expenses in my S1 account and see how much I’m spending on luxuries. Like most things in life, most of the work was setting it up. Then it pretty much runs itself. And it doesn’t cost anything to have this service. So whether you are struggling to make ends meet, living on a fixed income, a one income family or just want to manage your money more efficiently – a Budget Saver is a good account to have.

For more information about the First Option Budget Saver account click here.