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Spring savvy savings | Marvellous money makeover

by Penina
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Savings galore in this article! I love the idea of a makeover and the ‘getting one’s mojo back factor’ that follows. I once shared a house with a makeup artist and was she worth wrapping up in a ribbon! She would powder me daily with the latest and greatest foundations, make me over before parties and send me off to photo shoots feeling like a well-pampered celebrity. She’d roll a fresh mint around her mouth as she relayed stories about everything from her pre-school days chasing birds to sharing her exciting plans for ‘Greece-by-scooter.’ I could only nod with closed eyes and pursed lips as she went in for the kill with tweezers, gloss and a powder-filled sponge.
The best part about my roomie was that she’d always find something new to do with my face, life and other people’s faces and lives. When she wasn’t trying to pluck an eyebrow in mid-conversation, she’d chase our house full of students around with a hair-straightener to catch wayward curls. While we were slurping up noodles over dinner, she’d discuss plans to bronze my cheekbones, dye Missy’s eyelashes and fashion the goatees of all males at the table. While out on a power walk she’d tell me how she could fix my boy problems using the power of the latest plumping lip-gloss flavoured ‘peach.’ Then she’d pull the gloss out of her bum-bag (it was the 80s) and reinvent me right there on the street. There was no escaping this girl’s passion for helping others look and feel their best.

My ex-roomie got me thinking

It’s funny how thoughts about the past can change one’s course of action so long after the fact. I got thinking about my roomie when I was bottom-up and head-down recently in the storage cupboard (more like a small room) flinging items out into the hallway. I was having a random post-winter ‘war on clutter’ attack, brought on by spring’s first sunny day. I’d found a box of glittery things (lip glosses and metallic nail polish bottles) under a mountain of paperwork, folders, files, sheets, towels, books, albums and kids toys. As I fumbled through the box, those days of boy problems and peach pouts came glossing back.

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Then this got me thinking about our home renovation

One of the reasons I was digging in the storage cupboard in the first place was because of our home renovation. This week’s chore (spring cleaning aside) was to move the entire front of my house to the back of my house for the purpose of plastering and painting.
Yeah, moving house in my own house – fun, hmm…
I pondered how easy that year had been living with my roomie, who had saved me a stack of time in terms of self-care and money on beauty products.
This conjured up thoughts about the harder years of more recent times. I was particularly reflecting on the past three years and our renovation ‘on a shoestring.’ Life seemed so much simpler back in my student days. If I had had help at hand, like the help my roomie gave me daily, the renovation would have been so much easier. Everything is good in hindsight and what we should have done was borrow the money to renovate, rather than attempt funding a renovation through wages and income.

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As I looked at the tangled mess of phone and computer cords in my ‘techy’ box, I started thinking about how much more work we had to do. The thought of physically finishing the renovation was tiring enough (and I’m not the one doing the hammering), but then earning the money to pay for further work just felt well, overwhelming.
If you’ve ever lived in a home renovation, I’m sure you completely understand my predicament.
Now stay with me, there’s a point to all this…

Dreams are free

Well, it’s a good thing dreams are free and that most of us have the chance and ability to make our dreams a reality. As the saying goes – where there is a will there is a way. And I must say that during many of our renovation days, the ‘dream’ is all hubby and I have had to cling on to.
Here’s part of my little dream, which makes up a part of the bigger picture of our desire to retire before 50:
To be sitting on a new deck by summer sipping a vino with hubby (who is no longer up a ladder every hour of his life).

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It’s a simple little dream for summer. I know, I know – you can put away your violins now.
Well, there’s a lot of thinking time that goes on while decluttering a cupboard. Cupboards are amazing like that. The combination of my old roomie, my spring ‘war on clutter’ and our continuing money-sapping renovation project – took me down a completely new path of enlightenment, which is always so refreshing after such dirty work!

My ‘lightbulb’ money moment

After closing the box of glittery things and throwing the computer cords back into their box of tangle-dom, I sat against the shelves in my cupboard and took a breath. While studying cobwebs up on the roof, I figured out what I really needed to put my summer dream on turbo-charge was the following:
A complete, focused and unsolicited declutter of everything in my life for the purpose of getting more money, so I could fulfill my dream faster. And I wanted to do this without working extra hours or harder.

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In short: I needed a Marvellous Money Makeover to get things really moving.
Within minutes I was head-down and bottom-up in the cupboard again flinging things out the door. I was keen to finish the declutter job, move-house-in-my-own-house job and get back to my desk so I could get started on finding more money without working for it.
My epiphany in the storage cupboard was soon up and you are about to discover the results!

Drum roll…

If your bank balances, mortgage, accounts, finances and even cupboards are feeling drab, ignored and downright miserable read on to discover 11 hot tips for creating savvy savings with my spring Marvellous Money Makeover. Get your money MOJO back and fast. Live better.

Spring Marvellous Money Makeover

1. Cleanse | Visit your bank and account daily

Managing finances can be a fickle job if you don’t know how to undertake the task well. You can visit your bank online once a week and glean over your finances in a quick and random effort to manage your money. Doing this will certainly keep you abreast of a few things. But if you visit your bank and account daily, you will certainly find dirt leaking beneath its pores in terms of companies syphoning money out of your account while you are too busy doing other stuff. I liken this ‘build up’ to the kind of grime you find on and under your skin if you don’t cleanse and tone daily. After a while you just start to notice blemishes and in terms of money, you’ll find you don’t have as much as you might expect after a hard day’s work. Visiting your online bank daily will unveil any blemishes on your accounts.

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2. Deep clean floss | Form good financial hygiene habits

The dentist is the best visual I can give you for this job. While it might hurt a little and be tedious to delve into the intricacies of your accounts and pick out all the stuff you’ve been ignoring, you’ll feel fab once the job is done – just how you might feel after you’ve seen a hygienist. You’ll leave the task with a clean, fresh and ready-to-take on the world feeling.
In doing a deep clean floss of your finances, you might and probably will find build up. I’m talking about subscriptions you forgot about and companies putting prices up on you while you are busy driving around in cars singing summer songs or lying on the beach. Little price rises happen daily, weekly and monthly without you noticing – so be vigilant with them – like you would if you were flossing. Trust me – this is a pain but when you realise how much extra cash you’ve got after getting a balance, you’ll be happy you flossed your bank account.

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3. Exfoliate | Scrape away excess fees and interest on mortgages

Just as you might exfoliate dead skin in the shower, do the same with pesky bank fees and those bigger interest charges. Bank fees and interest on a mortgage are big-ticket items, in terms of what you would otherwise spend the money on. Don’t allow your bank account to get clogged up with unnecessary bank fees from using ATMs in the wrong places or simply being with a bank that charges excess fees on accounts.
Take that theory and then put it on steroids when you think of interest on a mortgage. With the wrong interest rate you are literally trapping all your hard-earned money in a bank and not allowing your finances to breathe in terms of freeing up the cash you need for enjoying life. If you think about trapping money like this every week, fortnight or month for many years and you’ll get the visual of what you’ll be wasting if your home mortgage interest rate is even 0.5% out of whack.
Seek out banks, which offer the lowest interest rates possible and spend the time in the room, on the phone or online – switching to a bank that doesn’t trap your money. Do this as a priority because every day equals dollars you could be using elsewhere.

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4. De-stress | Make sure your bank puts people first

It’s true. Stress causes wrinkles, puffiness, dry skin, acne, blemishes, rashes and even more serious health issues. People experience enough stress daily in terms of bills, jobs and life. It’s important not to add to stress levels by dealing with companies that make that stress compound.
My hubby and I had an awful experience when securing our home mortgage three years ago. Our bank gave us all the wrong advice, our loan was unlocked multiple times unnecessarily and then we simply became a ‘percentage’ in the banks equation. The level of stress we experienced when buying our home was extreme and all because of our loan officer’s inexperience and the banks process for dealing with the matter. No amount of talking took us out of the banks automated ‘equation’ and as a result we almost lost the home that is now our pride and joy. We eventually secured our mortgage but the experience left us with an overwhelming awful feeling about our bank.
Don’t employ a bank that gives you wrinkles. Find a bank that cares about people and offers a stress-free experience. This way you can get on with the complexities of what might be an already stressful day.

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5. Finance kit | Gather up the right tools for managing your money

Just as you might put together a kit for your makeup or a toiletry bag when leaving the house or going on a trip, do the same for your finances. If you want to look and feel good you wouldn’t load your bag with the wrong cosmetics, perfume or aftershave would you? The same goes for finances. Make sure you put together a high-functioning kit (think toolbox) for your money.
Remember your time is money, so don’t waste precious time filling out spreadsheets and pouring over your finances when there are plenty of tools out there to do the job for you. My pick for money management is PocketSmith. Now these guys are from little ‘ole Dunedin in New Zealand, but don’t let their size deter you. They’re tool packs a punch and they are far the best I’ve tried because they do bank feeds, calendars, budgets and forecasts all on the one dashboard. Simply connect your bank accounts up, add categories to your transactions and the software does the rest. PocketSmith delivers instant pictures of all your finances on the one page, helps you create budgets and forecasts and even feeds into online accounting programs like Xero. If you are still manually downloading CSV files and opening them up in Excel for sorting – throw that idea away and get technology working for you.

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6. Quick fixes | Place bookmarks in obvious places

Just like you would keep moisturiser or deodorant in a handy spot for use after a shower, do the same for your finance kit. I can’t stand not being able to find a gloss or eye pencil I might use frequently. The same goes for finance tools. There’s nothing more time consuming than typing up bank web addresses and digging around the internet for tools you might use daily.
To execute this Marvellous Money Makeover, you’ll need to make daily quick fixes to your accounts and so you need to put them in a handy spot. Put obvious and colorful bookmarks on your computer home screen and also put the most important apps on the home screen of your phone. For example, drag your bank’s address onto your homepage and create a clear icon (visual is best) for it. That way, when you cleanse and exfoliate your accounts daily – you can do that with one click.
Since money pays for everything in your life, place the links to your money in front of you so they are in easy reach – just like your toothbrush. Your bank balance will thank you for it. Note: Just as you would declutter a bag of makeup, also minimise the less important bookmarks.
Stay focused on the job of making money and saving money when embarking on your Marvellous Money Makeover, and your accounts will start to sparkle and shine.

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7. Get a stylist | Consider getting a financial planner

There was nothing more refreshing than living with my makeup artist roomie for a year. I never had to worry about what to do in terms of beauty and in my student days this was awesome. I really didn’t have a clue about the best foundation or tricks for making myself look my absolute best. I also had so many other things to worry about – like paying for courses, studying and working hard so I could travel overseas.
Think of financial planning the same way. Most people also don’t have a clue about the continuously changing financial world, the complexities of markets and the laws affecting superannuation and investment. Financial planners make you feel secure about your finances by offering the best, most up-to-date financial advice. They will help maximise every dollar that comes through your door, so you can get on with managing the more important things in life, like health, kids and enjoying time with family.
Think of a financial planner like a money stylist. They’ll make your money look good and do great things, which equates to a better life for you today and in the long run.

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8. Plump your finances | Get savvy with superannuation

Superannuation is a serious means to plumping your finances and something many of us don’t think of until we’re old and then its too late. A little bit of investigation and planning now (yeah, maintenance – like in the dentist analogy above) will certainly help you achieve your retirement dreams.
Also make sure that the super fund you go with is not affected by changes in global financial markets, and they are fee free and capital guaranteed. Some banks make it really easy because they offer a special bank account just for super – so depositing money into your super account is as easy as a transfer.
Whether you want to lie on a beach in the Bahamas painting your nails or enjoy regular gourmet meals at your favourite restaurant, putting money into super earlier than later is vital. Consider adding more money into your super at an early age and with compound interest – you’ll plump your retirement funds incredibly.

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9. Trim, tuck and tone| Consolidate insurance policies

Insurance is singularly one of my biggest expenses and if you are living large – you’ve probably got a list of insurances to match. Absolutely, definitely, unequivocally consider tightening up all your insurances and consolidate them. Not only will your savings thank you, but trimming down the companies you deal with to just one – will make life much easier. When thinking insurance, think trim, tone and tuck! Suck your insurances in and tone them up, just as you would those extra kilos after long winter.

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9. Brighten | Enhance your savings account

As you would use whitening toothpaste to brighten your smile, do the same with your savings account. There are thousands of little ways to save and I’ve proven it on my blog with over 10,000+ ways to save already (actually is more like 15,000+ ways now!). Also saving money need not be a drab and daggy thing. In fact, the Savings Room mantra is to make the whole idea of finances and saving a bright, happy and fun experience. I don’t want you to fall off your perch from boredom when thinking about finances and money.
You may already have a savings account set up and if so – great! If you have an account already, consider adding a little extra to that account each week. For example, if you have a direct debit set up for savings, up the ante.
During the process of executing your Marvellous Money Makeover you will certainly find a large sum of extra money. Now don’t go out the next day waving that money around the shops in a random spending attack. While you can certainly celebrate by treating yourself to something special, be sensible too. Put some of that money back into your kitty. Having an emergency fund is a must, as is saving for the future.
Tip: If you don’t have an account set up specifically for saving money, open one today and put a direct debit into action. Set and forget it. Look at it in six months and I assure you, that you won’t need toothpaste to brighten that smile because you’ll be so happy to see all those savings! There’s a real sense of security that comes with brightening and enhancing one’s savings account.

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10. Cut, colour and highlight | Use a happy, nice, personality-filled bank – you can trust

Cut, colouring and highlighting one’s hair after a long and dreary winter is one of spring’s great pleasures. Of course, you wouldn’t colour your hair a crappy colour or invest in dye that’s going to burn your scalp and leave you in pain would you?
The same goes for your bank. If you are going to embark on a Marvellous Money Makeover and spend daily time online, make sure your bank not only covers all the above-mentioned points, but also consider a bank with a personality and community spirit. Simply – it’s nice to see colour every day. It’s also great to deal with nice people and it’s wonderful to deal with companies that are community and people-minded. It’s these little touches in a bank and in life that simply make one’s day.
People-minded banks don’t pay dividends to shareholders. So their profits go back into giving their customers better benefits like low interest rates and lower or no fees.

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11. Less is more | Learn the art of money perfection

There’s a rule of thumb with makeup and the mantra is ‘less is more.’ Many people believe that packing on as much makeup as possible will result in a better look, when in fact the opposite is true. There’s an art to perfecting makeup and that’s to put less on using some nifty tricks for maximum effect. My personal mantra is this at the moment and in fact I have it taped to my computer:
Perfection is when there’s nothing left to take away.
I find this term works for pretty much everything I’m doing in life. If I’m decluttering a cupboard, I don’t stop until there’s nothing left to take away. If I’m shaving down expenses in my bank account – same thing, I don’t stop until all superfluous expenses are gone.
Practice the art of money perfection using this theory. Remove excess fees, lower interest rates, shave down expenses, cleanse and exfoliate your accounts. After your Marvellous Money Makeover, you’ll certainly feel rejuvenated and the results will give you a feeling of security, peace of mind and most importantly – more money!

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I hope you’ll get started on your spring Marvellous Money Makeover today and live better. It sure feels great to get your money mojo back and get those savings sorted!

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