In between school runs, keeping the boys entertained, spending time with her small-business-owner husband Sam and running a household, Jodie doesn’t always have much time to spend on life admin.
Recently, Jodie and Sam realised they had accumulated several credit cards, which they decided was making their family finances more complicated than they needed to be.
We sat down to talk to Jodie about how she simplified her finances and why she chooses to use a credit card to better manage her hectic household.
Jodie Fairweather talking to Canstar
Running a household budget used to be something I chose to hide my head in the sand about, living with an ‘if I like/need/want it, I’ll buy it’ mantra and grabbing any card I could find from my wallet. What happened was the general household budget, as well as luxury purchases, got split across my Visa, Amex and store credit cards. I ended up feeling overwhelmed and found it difficult to track our expenses. We were paying annual fees on a number of cards and I admit, sometimes we would miss credit card payments because we simply forgot. It reached a point where I realised it was absolutely time to streamline the family finances.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not a numbers person, so I needed a way to keep things simple. After doing some research online, I discovered that with the right approach (and the right product), I could in fact use a credit card to my advantage. I realised that through using a card with a strong rewards program and the right interest rate, I could actually end up ahead if I paid the balance in full each month.
Here are five reasons why using a credit card to manage our finances has worked for my family.
1. Everything in one place
When we used multiple cards to pay bills and make purchases, we were adding additional work for ourselves to keep track of our finances. By consolidating our family spending to one card, we made tracking our spending much simpler. Sam and I sit down together to run over our family budget every week, and by simplifying our spending we found these catch-ups have become much shorter – leaving us more time to spend with each other and our family.
2. Accruing points
Even though the value of credit card points has declined, I’ve still found choosing a card with a good rewards program and using it wisely has helped us. When I considered my total spend each month – groceries, restaurants, party gifts, school shoes, haircuts and toys, not to mention household furnishings, utility and mobile bills – I quickly realised how much it adds up. By putting all these purchases on the card and making sure we paid off the total amount each month, we earned rewards points. Combining these points with those collected through Sam’s business credit cards, we ended up with enough points to redeem for flights to our family holiday to Queensland.
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What a difference 2 years makes! (Scroll ??) Today I was scrolling through baby photos of Beau – not really coping with the fact my baby will be 2 next month! Wasn’t he just born? ? Whilst I was scrolling (I may of shed a tear or two), Beau came over and asked me to pick him up, within a minute he fell asleep on my chest in the exact chair and spot where my 2nd pic was taken 2 years ago! It’s like he knew I needed some extra cuddles ? #lovehim #fate #missmybelly #timeisathief
3. Help with the odd unexpected expense
Using our credit card gives us a bit of leeway with unexpected expenses. Sam is very handy with a spreadsheet, and we are generally aware of our regular spending, but some months require additional purchases. Recently we redecorated the boys’ bedroom and needed to buy new furniture we hadn’t budgeted for. Using a credit card in that case helped us buy what we needed when we needed it. Now, I confess that although I pay off my card in full the majority of the time, there is the odd occasion I may pay off a larger purchase over a few months where I decided the added convenience is worth it. That’s why I chose a card with a low purchase rate, to minimise my interest charges.
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So I have a question that I’d love some help with. When we decided on bunk beds for the boys I initially was thinking the two big boys sharing the bunks for the next few years. The boys are absolutely loving their new @lilly_and_lolly bunks BUT so is Beau. ? He’s OBSESSED,crawling into Rocco’s bottom bunk every night for a snuggle and a bedtime story but when its time for him to go to sleep in his own room he absolutely loses it. ?? #majorFOMO . Call me crazy but this has got me thinking, should I attempt to move Beau into the bottom bunk, (he’s still in his cot but I’ll have to start seriously thinking of upgrading him to a ‘big boy’ bed soon. The older two were in beds by 18 months!). Rocco will move to the top bunk and Hugo (who is 9 going on 18) will finally get his own room – he’s been pestering us for some time now. Sounds great on paper but I’m worried about the major disruption at bedtime. I’d love some advice/feedback from people who have (or attempted) to move a two year old into a room with an older sibling. Is it too early? Should I wait till he’s a little older? #help !! #howisBeaunearlytwo ? #notcoping . . I’ve also popped some more photos and info of the boys awesome new room up on my blog #linkinbio
4. Extra security
A few years ago, we experienced online fraud when our credit card details were used overseas. Thankfully, we were fully covered by our financial institution so we did not lose any money. We even get calls from our bank whenever a significant purchase is made using the card (like when we bought furniture) just to make sure it was us using the card.
5. Helpful features
Recently, we booked a family tropical holiday to Fiji. There was plenty of sun, sand and fun memories to be had. Unfortunately, our bags had other ideas. We arrived, but our luggage did not. Eventually, two of the four bags resurfaced, but the other two – including Sam’s luggage that contained his laptop – never did. We were glad that the travel insurance we were eligible for through the credit card covered our losses. This insurance was a complimentary feature of the card (all we needed to do was pay the annual fee and use it to make some of the purchases for the trip). Of course, not every credit card will necessarily come with travel insurance included, so if you’re interested in this feature it could be worth comparing your options to see what’s available.
I honestly never thought I’d get excited over my finances, but by adjusting where and how I spend, I’ve noticed that it is that little bit easier. Now I can track it easily with my bank’s credit card app and see when I’ve hit my restaurant or shoe quota for the month.
If you have a credit card or two, my recommendation is to take a look at whether you could be getting a better deal through a site like Canstar, which I found to be easy to navigate and helped me find the right product quickly. It’s also worth thinking about consolidating your purchases through one card provider to help you keep track of your spending. Just remember, it is a good idea to find a card that suits your needs, use it responsibly and pay it all off within the billing period where possible, to avoid having to pay interest charges.
This article was produced in partnership with Bondi Mumma.
About Jodie Fairweather
Jodie is known as the Bondi Mumma where she shares insights into her busy life in Sydney while raising three young boys alongside husband Sam. You can find her on Instagram @Bondi_Mumma.