Lisa is in her early 20’s and has been with the same employer since she left school. She works for a fashion brand at a shopping centre outside of Newcastle in Hunter Valley and leads an active social life. Lisa lives at home with her parents.
Lisa got in touch with our team after her friend shared that we had helped her to refinance her credit cards. Recently, her car was starting to cost her a bit in repairs and as Lisa went to pay, she realised her card was close to her maximum limit.
Personal Finance Audit
With her steady income and her stable living situation Lisa told us she had trouble working out where all her money was going each week. We suggested she use the app provided by her bank to track her expenses over the next month and then come back to us to review the results and try to come up with a plan together.
We suggested that Lisa break things down into categories, including –
Board / Rent
When we next met, Lisa said she was shocked by the amounts she was spending on take-aways (which included buying her lunch and a daily coffee). She had also come to realise she was spending too much on her clothes despite the staff discounts on offer in her shop, and while she enjoyed the nights out with her Taree high school friends, she was shocked at how much she had spent when it was all added up.
With Lisa now more aware of where her money was going, we discussed with her the credit card debt of $8,000. If she continued to just pay the minimum monthly payment of $200 it would take her over 5.5 years to repay at that rate, and she would be paying over $5,300 in interest. From the payment of $200 a month, only $65 was going to pay off the debt, with $135 going towards servicing the interest.
This is assuming that Lisa does not spend any more on this card or open new credit card accounts. Many people are not aware that if they only pay off the credit card company’s recommended minimum payment, it will be years and years until their debt is cleared. The only way around this is to pay off more! If possible, clear the credit card debt altogether. Given Lisa’s current working and living situation, this is what our team at Excel recommended.
First up, we recommended Lisa refinance her existing credit card debt under a balance transfer offer we were able to match her up with offering 12 months interest free for her $8000 debt.
Secondly, if Lisa could cut back on her spending, she would be able to make a real change in her finances. So, Lisa agreed not to use the new card for any new purchases.
Thirdly, with the reduction in Lisa’s spending she would be able to increase her monthly card repayments and lower her total interest costs.
Lisa brainstormed with us ways to reduce her weekly expenses and came up with –
Packing her own lunch to take to work saved $50 a week
Cutting back to one store bought coffee a week saved a further $20
Skipping the mid-week drinks saved $40, but she still got to reward herself by catching up with her friends on the weekend
Restricting her clothing purchases by accessorising existing outfits save a further $250 a month
By making these changes Lisa was able to increase her credit card repayments to $900 each month, and had the debt repaid in full within the interest free period.
After she paid off the debt, we suggested to Lisa that she reduced the limit to $1,000, which if she uses, she clears in full every month (and pays no interest). We also started her with a high interest savings account. A few months later we discussed options to take out a personal loan to update her car, evaluating that she would be able to afford to service a loan around with repayments at $600 a month and still have $300 left over for her savings.
Could you use some help to get your finances heading in the right direction? We have a 5 minute financial health check that could get you started. Contact us today to set up a meeting to discuss your needs.