Wuh-oh! Expensive Christmas? Here’s how to triage your budget for January 2023

By Evlin DuBose ·  · 4 min read

Read it straight from Mozo here.

After the combined tidal wave of Black Friday and holiday shopping, many Aussie bank balances may be cringe-inducing. And the cost of living this year looks like it won’t be much better.

So, whether you’re recovering from a spending spree, embracing a New Years’ resolution, or just want a bit of cushion, here’s how to revamp your emergency budget for January 2023.

Download a budgeting app ASAP

Firstly, to know how to revamp your budget, you need to know where you’re leaking money. But if creating a spreadsheet fills you with existential horror, let an AI do the work for you with a smart budgeting app.

Link it up to your bank account (don’t worry, they take privacy seriously) and let the bots trawl through all your data. Once the app creates a report, you can see where your expenses are going, how much they’re eating into your paycheck, and what you can do about them.

Remember, budgets aren’t there to hinder your spending and make you poor – it’s the other way around. They empower you to spend wisely and buffer your finances.

Cut back on grocery shopping and dining out

Grocery prices have been eye-watering lately, so it’s essential to lean into the summer season and shop smarter down the aisle. Buy locally and seasonally where you can: now’s the time to be a bit adventurous with the cheaper produce on sale. Learn a new recipe or two!

Meal-prep and take food to work so you’re not tempted to buy from a cafe. Ask your mates if you can do a potluck picnic instead of brunch (which can add a little sunny magic to your weekend hangouts). 

Subscribing to a meal-kit service can reduce the amount of planning and shopping you have to do and control your weekly spending. You can even order cheap, fresh fruit and vegetables through services like Farmers Pick.

Rethink your streaming services

Keeping up with the endless stream of content can be exhausting – and expensive. So if you’ve subscribed to everything under the sun, decide which services you use the most and cut the rest loose for now. Most providers will let you pick up where you left off if you change your mind later.

Need help determining which streaming sites to pick? Here’s what’s new on each of the major platforms.

HOT TIP: Your local library will usually let you borrow or stream some movies for free through Kanopy, and ABC iView is free for everyone with an account.

Compare energy providers

Summer can be hellish for your energy bills, especially if you’re running the aircon to cope. 

Power down the price surges by switching off non-essentials during the day. Invest in automatic timers to switch off non-essential devices while you’re away at work (or at night when you’re asleep). Stopping little bits of ghosted power can add to savings in the long run.

Next, triage how you cool down your place. Fans use less electricity than an aircon, and opening your windows for the evening breeze is free. Avoid turning on the oven (that’ll make your home even hotter), and opt for chilled, fridge-based fresh meals instead. Crisp, cold tomato and ham sandwich, anyone?

Lastly, compare energy providers to ensure you get the best deal for your area.

Revamp your savings account

All the extra cash won’t do you any good if it’s parked in the wrong place. Have a look at your savings account and make sure you’re meeting any terms and conditions to get the top bonus rate. If you’re unhappy with it, compare savings accounts to see if switching could nab you a better deal. 

Alternatively, you can remove the temptation to spend leftover cash by locking it away in a short-lived term deposit. Many 6 to 12-month interest rates have sharpened thanks to the RBA rate rises, so at least savers can take advantage of what’s happening in Australia’s monetary policy.

Take a look at your home loan

Lastly, if you have a home loan, you’re likely reeling from all the rate rises in 2023 (totalling 3.00% worth of hikes from the RBA alone).

The big banks predict we’ll likely see another 0.50% – 0.75% worth of hikes by May 2023, so there’s still a way left to go.

If you have an offset account, funnel as much of your savings into it as possible to cut down on the amount of payable interest on your mortgage. Consider making extra repayments if you can, too, since this also saves on your interest repayments later. Now’s also a good time to call your lender and see if you can negotiate a better rate.

Still not happy? Consider refinancing your mortgage in 2023: a little headache now could save you a lot of heartache later.