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Managing family debt: strategies for paying off loans while saving

6 February 2024

When money is tight, it can seem like a hard choice between paying off debt and saving, but with some strategic planning and smart thinking, you can do both.

Understand your spending

Your first step in taking control of debts and saving is to understand where your money has been going. Look back on your debit and credit card statements from the last few months, listing all family income sources and expenses. Categorise expenses: groceries, utilities, subscriptions, entertainment, pet, car and home costs, school, work, and sports. Bendigo Bank’s online budget tool can help you do this.

Create a family budget

Together, plan a weekly or monthly budget. Estimate the costs of essentials like bills and groceries. Set limits for entertainment expenses and engage the family in an open discussion about needs versus wants. Identify saving opportunities like bulk shopping, cooking, brewing coffee at home, cheaper entertainment, and consolidating errands to save on fuel.

After expenses, what you have left should be split into debt payments and savings deposits. Aim to allocate 20% of after-tax income to debts and savings. If this is challenging initially, start with a manageable percentage.

Strategically tackle debts

List all your current debts and their interest and fees. Choose an approach for paying them off: you can focus on high-interest debt first while paying minimums on others or target the smallest balance first for a quick win. Debt consolidation is an option, using a balance transfer credit card or consolidation loan. Seek financial advice if you’re entering into any new debt arrangement.

Strategically save

As you reduce the negative interest, you should also get some of the good interest! Bendigo Bank’s EasySaver account offers competitive interest rates regardless of your deposits or withdrawals, while our Reward Saver provides bonus variable rates for consistent deposits. Our online account selector can help you choose the right savings account.

Earn a little extra

As a family, discuss your talents and hobbies – you might be able to turn some into an income source. Here are some ideas to boost the bank balance:

  • Put your graphic or website design, writing, or social media skills into use as a freelancer, or offer a consulting service in your area of expertise.
  • Offer your excellence as a tutor: academic subjects, music, art, cooking, or language.
  • Monetise hobbies like photography, crafts, or cooking, through avenues like online selling platforms, local markets, or event catering.
  • Pet lovers can earn with pet sitting, grooming, or dog walking gigs, or if you have a green thumb or handyperson in the family, they could offer gardening or repair services.

Celebrate your wins

The key to both paying off debt and saving is to go at a pace you can keep up and avoid more debt until you’re in control. Stay on track by maintaining credit card discipline, automating savings deposits, and directing windfalls toward debt and savings. Regularly reference and stick to your budget. Celebrate your progress as a family to keep motivated. You can conquer debt and boost savings by understanding your journey, setting incremental goals, and progressing together.

Any advice provided in this article is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal needs, objectives and financial circumstances. You should consider whether it is appropriate for your situation. Please read the relevant product disclosure statement(s) available on our website before acquiring any product.


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Bendigo and Adelaide Bank acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of this nation and the Traditional Custodians of the land where we live, learn and work. We pay our respects to Elders past and present as it is their knowledge and experience that holds the key to the success of future generations.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, ABN 11 068 049 178 AFSL / Australian Credit Licence 237879. Any advice provided on this website is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal needs, objectives and financial circumstances. You should consider whether it is appropriate for your situation. Please read the applicable Disclosure Documents before acquiring any product described on this website. Please also review our Financial Services Guide (FSG) before accessing information on this website. Information on this page can change without notice to you.

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