Jamie's World

Household finances and sucky vampires

Household finances

Your house is more than a ceiling perched on some walls affixed to a base. It (hopefully) has electricity coursing through it, the internet broadcasting live, food in the pantry, water in the pipes and people mooching about inside with phones in their pockets.

While I’m sure it’s a friendly house, the goods and services supporting it can suck up all your real-life dollars, vampire-style. Hidden obligations can blindside you. You might forget to eat properly. Unless you’re smart (and you are).

Nifty thrifty: Keeping good companies

You get to choose who you purchase internet, power, food, etc from, based on their service and affordability. To an extent, the power is in your court. The ball is yours. To help decide, ask friends and families who they use, and whether they’re any good. And become an intrepid deal hunter online:

  • Powerswitch: Compare gas and electricity options to keep the lights light and the hot water hot.
  • WhistleOut: Who you gonna call for a phone or plan?
  • Telme: Available soon – will likely be a good comparison tool for choosing an internet provider.
  • Consumer supermarket price survey: In the market for a good market? How super is your super?

Get by with a little help from your friends

A flat is a bit like a freshly formed band (or a solo artist, if you live alone). It’s all party hats, saveloys and fairy bread in the beginning. But then those unholy missives – bills – arrive, and you need to work out who pays for what.

Having a flat account is good for divvying up the bills. Calculate everyone's weekly share of rent, food and other costs, and then have them pay their weekly chunk into the flat account (APs can work best, as long as you make sure you have money in the source account for it to take).

Share the responsibility by having all (or at least more than one) of your names on the flat account – the same applies to your bills. You'll need a champion to keep an eye on the account and ensure the bills get paid. Choose wisely.

Cover yourself (and not just with a blanket)

No doubt you’ve also considered your obligations regarding bond, the tenancy agreement, and insurance. OH MY GOD YOU HAVEN’T. Always stay calm.

Remedy your shortfall with a job

Do your weekly costs exceed your income? If you once saved the life of one of Brangelina's 23 children and declined their offer to shower you with riches, it's time to suppress that hero integrity and get them to bankroll your flat. Otherwise, you might need a job. To gain access to employment, you could:

Looking after yourself

If your head regularly feels like it’s stuffed with styrofoam, you might not be looking after yourself. Are you living in a healthy flat? Have you assembled a repertoire of simple, cheap recipes? If the cost of the food shop is holding you back, save money by going to a local weekend market (especially for fruit and veg) or grocery shopping online.

Nutritionally deprived zombies are notoriously unproductive. Sometimes you have to save your pennies and branch out into broccoli. Bite into a banana. Sample some celery. Grapple with an apple. If I stop half rhyming and alliterating, will you buy some fruit and veg? Good. Deal.

Coming up

Stay tuned for the next instalment on sizing up a bank and sifting the good advice from the bad.

Please note

This is intended as general information only. It does not take into account your financial situation and goals and is not personal advice. For advice about your particular circumstances please see a financial adviser, or make an appointment with a Kiwibank Wealth Adviser.