In this day and age, we’re all looking for the next fix for a bangin’ bod or tighter booty. Society and social media are incredibly cruel and unfortunately too many of us fall into the marketing traps of the next boot camp or Instagram bikini body challenge. So as the end of the year celebrations were winding up wind up, I started thinking about my finspiration for 2018. Like the many years before, #1 on the list is generally a detox or gym membership to keep my ridiculous exercise pledge in check – not money related at all! It also usually came with an admin fee, lock in fee, bloody-hard-to-get-out-of-fee and a direct debit that lived in my account until I could be bothered to cancel it. Does this sound like you too?
I’m not afraid to admit that I am a follower and every marketer’s dream, so at the start of 2016 I started going to a new gym, the ‘next best workout’ that everyone was doing. But while I was ‘following’ the pack, I was lured into the land of direct debits. What I didn’t think about were the other yoga and boxing memberships I was roped into before Summer started. I was paying twice as much and only looking half as good. What the hell was I doing? I’m better than that!
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Direct debits can be super handy in helping you to organise your finances but they are also fraught with danger if not managed properly. My direct debit audit was confronting to say the least. Not only was I paying for a gym membership I didn’t use, I also had subscriptions coming from everywhere.
A lot of us have direct debits set up for a number of service providers and haven’t done an audit on these debits in a while, probably since they were set up or you signed that form in a shopping centre to save the animals. Remember that one? Didn’t think so. If you have a direct debit set-up with your utility bills or phone provider are you aware of the implications if there isn’t enough money in your account and you default on a payment? Do you know the percentage of utility bills that are based on averages and above what you actually owe? Did you know that social and team memberships are automatically renewed and don’t require your approval? Or perhaps that there is over $1 billion dollars of unused direct debits in Australia? Say whaaaaaaat!
Sometimes managing your bills can feel like more work than your actual paying job. It takes time, annoying pieces of paper and let’s face it, brainpower. Who wouldn’t want to set up a direct debit and have the thinking done by a computer? So when you’re thinking about your 2018 finspiration, here are my Top 5 tips for managing your direct debits:
Audit your account – your bank can provide you with a listing of all the direct debits taken from your account for the past 13 months (some could be longer). You might find a gym membership from 4 years ago that’s still helping itself to your juicy cash. Take note of the amount and frequency that they’re being withdrawn and follow-up on those that look a bit cheeky. It’s also worth knowing that some companies can change names and still be able to take money from your account. This is a little sneaky but may explain the conniption you have when you see “old-world-body-slammers” appear on your statement.
Ask yourself, “do I really need this?” – Similar to your yearly closet clean out, culling direct debits from your bank account can be just as rewarding. I recently cancelled Foxtel, invested in Netflix and saved $80 per month! I also recently downgraded my phone plan to $50 per month, saving an extra $40 per month. I already pay for wifi, why do I need a million gigs of data and international calls?!
Just say ‘No’ – If you want to cancel any of your direct debits it’s not uncommon that the business or service provider may make you jump through hoops to do it. Some may even ask you to write a letter to both your banking institution and the business before the cancellation will be actioned. Pain in the ass, I know, but Money Smart have letter templates available to save you the hassle. Moral of the story – just say ‘No’ and persevere through the annoying admin.
Think – the next time you want to save the animals, and the forests and the local dance group, make sure you think about it before signing your bank balance away. There is nothing wrong with giving to charity but I would suggest giving one off payments instead.
Friendly Reminder – Exercise is free and so are all local parks in Australia. Try doing your lunges and squats there. It will save you money and still give you the summer bod. Win, win in my eyes!
Fearless Female Traders