It’s hard to handle predictions about our state of wealth in Melbourne Cup week.
But we’re indebted to news.com.au for the following: “IT’S universally known as “the race that stops a nation”. But here’s proof it really does. Data from the Commonwealth Bank shows card transactions plummeted on Tuesday during the race as Australians, quite literally, stopped spending and started watching.
“CommBank figures showed credit and debit card transactions dropped 33 per cent between 3.00pm and 3.05pm — when the Cup was on. The drop was even steeper from 2.55pm to 3.05pm, at 38 per cent.
“Spending on transport, however, peaked to coincide with key race times.”
Spending was on the minds of the Reserve Bank Board, which decided yet again to take no action on interest rates – worried about household debt and flagging inflatiokn (yes, in their world that’s a bad thing!).
It’s the 83rd month in a row that there has been no rise in interest rates, thanks to low wage growth. The last time rates went up was in November, 2010. Interest rates were then 4.75%, while today the cash rate is 1.5%.
But Australian families are not convinced the Reserve Bank won’t raise rates – even though some commentators believe nothing will happen throughout 2018.
As a result, they are trying to pay down the heavy mortgages the housing crises has saddled them with. That’s why retailers are looking at a Christmas filled with scrooge-like penny pinching. No Jingle Bells from the tills this year.
We know it’s about as valuable to look back at the horse we might have bet on in Melbourne Cup as it is to consider last year’s house prices, but it is worth pausing to cinsider that the median for a home in Sydney in December 2011 was $567,000, when the mortgage rate was 6.55%. Your repayment rate was $2,881 per month.
Today, according to research house CoreLogic, that same house would set up back an extra $250,000 and repayments would be an eye-watering $3,891 even with a 20% deposit and a 4.45% interest rate.
One area where investors were spending up big was on the Stock Exchange.
It’s been a decade since the Aussie share market burst through the 6000 valuation level It’s the result of a return to shares as property plummets in investor popularity – a jolly good thing for the likes of you and I, who actually want a roof over our heads.
How high can the market go? You might as well ask: Who’s going to win next year’s Melbourne Cup.
According to The Financial Review: “It’s often said that when it comes to investing Warren Buffett is one of the most patient men in the world. But even Buffett’s patience might have been tested by the performance of the local sharemarket since 2007.”
Apparently, rising any further could take years, especially with commodity prices still depressed.
Now here’s an interesting question: are women better savers than men?
OK, no prizes for the answer.
Miranda Marquit, an award-winning financial writer, told me, “I like to stop and consider whether or not an expenditure makes sense in terms of my values, priorities and goals.”
As women, we’re constantly bombarded by marketing encouraging us to buy, buy and buy some more. We can’t even scroll through a Facebook feed without seeing ads for products that were handpicked for us to see.
That’s why it’s important, as Marquit said, to identify your priorities. If your priority is retiring early or traveling more, make sure you’re not getting tempted by a sale at your favorite store. Instead, stop and remind yourself of where you actually want your money to go.
Ask for deals
I absolutely love to ask for a deal, much to my husband’s embarrassment. Still, even he can’t argue at some of the great deals I get just because I spoke up!
Bobbi Rebell, author of the book “How to be a Financial Grownup,” agrees. She told me, “My favorite thing that I do is ASK. I ask for discounts on everything.” Ah, Bobbi is a woman after my own heart!
High-Quality Clothes at a Discount
In my college days, I used to scour the racks at Forever 21 looking for absolute rock-bottom prices on clothes. Now that I’m a mom and a professional, I really want high-quality clothing that lasts long – without paying the high-quality prices.
Holly Johnson, a frugal living expert and the co-author of the book “Zero Down Your Debt,” is the same way. She tells me, “I like buying used name-brand clothes via consignment stores. That way, I get the quality brands that I love without having to pay full price.”
Think of Saving Money in a New Way
Lauren Bowling, creator of the personal finance blog FinancialBestLife, has a unique and effective way to think about saving money. She says, “I like to think of my savings goals in terms of negative numbers. So if I’m trying to save $1,000, it’s -$1,000, and if I save a $100, then it becomes -$900 instead of +100.”
The reason this works for her, she says, is because “after paying off debt, I find the psychology behind ‘racing to get to zero’ more compelling than trying to save ASAP.”
Look Around Your House
Mindy Jensen, the community manager for an 800,000-member real estate investing site, suggests buying LED light bulbs, which can be “under $5 (depending on the size/style) and last for decades. Plus, they use a fraction of the electricity that an incandescent bulb would, so you pay a bit more upfront, but save every month after.”
Jensen is also a huge fan of DIY projects. She encourages women to try their hand at fixing minor issues around the house by watching YouTube videos.
Search for Discount Codes
Zina Kumok, an accomplished blogger and financial writer, told me, “My favorite savings tip is to always look for a discount code before you buy something online. It’s rare that you can’t find a quick 10 – 20% if you look hard enough. Doing this regularly can save you hundreds each year!”
Don’t Blow Your Windfalls
Natalie Bacon, a financial blogger and certified financial planner, says, “My favorite money-saving tip is to earmark windfalls and raises for specific financial goals, such as saving for an emergency fund or paying off debt.”
Be Aware and Write It Down
Lastly, saving money really comes down to awareness. At the end of the day, you can’t save money if you aren’t paying attention to your wallet, your habits and your goals. Emilie Burke the personal finance blogger behind Burke Does, agrees. She says, “The best way to save money is to be conscious of how you’re spending money. When you write down every way you spend money before you do it (whether it’s an app on your phone or pen and paper), you will be forced to face the realities of your spending behaviors.”
And, I’ll end with a financial tip of my own, one that I’ve shared with thousands of women over the past few years on my personal finance blog: Get used to the word “no.”
Every single day, I have to tell myself no. That might be as big as not buying a pair of new $100 fall boots or as simple as not putting my favorite cookie in the grocery cart.
For more see catherinealford.com