HOT TOPICS:   Election 2014  |    China   |  Peer-to-peer lending                                        RESOURCES:    Economic calendar   |  Median multiples

Find your KiwiSaver fund

The comment stream

Reader poll

Have rising residential property values left you better or worse off financially?


How much is your habit costing you?; Cutting the fat from your grocery bill; Common budgeting mistakes; How to Create a Spending Record; Fraud

Posted in Personal Finance

By Amanda Morrall

With apologies to all you personal finance sophisticates out there, today's edition of Take Five we're going back to basics. Sometimes this is an important step even for the fully self-realised personal finance guru. A little review never hurts.

1) Bad habits

Fortunately for me, I don't have a lot of bad habits. My worst habit, which you're bored of hearing about by now I'm sure is coffee.

Because I don't smoke, drink much, buy shoes, handbags or new clothes or anything else that eats up my disposable income in a bad way, I don't beat myself up (too badly.)

But like most people with bad habits, and especially those with Virgoan tendencies, I'll be the first to admit there is room for improvement. I've been putting this off for a while but it's time to tally my flat white consumption and start drinking more water.

What's your financial weakness and how much is it costing you? With more on how to curb those habits that are killing your budget  here's a piece from 

2) Food costs

Related Topics

Food is not a habit obviously but it can take a massive bite out of your budget each month. How you shop, where, when and whether you are a list maker and meal planner will make a big impact on how much you spend.

Also an area where I could use a swift kick in the butt, all the way to PAKn'SAVE because convenience comes at a steep price, at least in my cushy bourgeois neighborhood where my kids play spot the luxury car for kicks. Note: I drive a very economical 2003 Honda Jazz. 

With seven ways to save on your food budget, check out this blog from the

3) Common budgeting mistakes 

Budgets strike fear into the heart of personal finance novices and even experts I dare say, who think they have it all in their head. Luckily technology has made budgeting a much easier job than it used to be although you don't need an iPhone or excel spreadsheet to master the art of budgeting. reviews some of the most common mistakes made with budgeting and offers some tips on how to get yourself sorted.

See also the extensive budgeting tools and resources on's website here.

4) How to create a spending budget

A crucial part of the budgeting process is keeping track of how much you spend, naturally. It might seem elementary but for those who needs a refresher, the outlines here how to create a spending record. All your need is a pen and piece of paper. 

5) Fraud

An interesting factoid to come out of last week's Financial Literacy Summit held in Auckland and hosted by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income is that there are more than one billion email attempts made each year to dupe some poor gullible soul into handing over money as part of a sob story scam involving uncollected inheritance money. Something like 1/10 people take the bait, which is crazy.  Seniors are especially vulnerable to these kind of scams and others.

As part of Fraud Awareness Week, the New Zealand Banker's Association issued the following alert and accompanying advice on its website.

• Guard your card. Treat it like cash. Don’t leave it lying around. Make sure you know where your card is at all times. 

• Protect your PIN. Never tell anyone your PINs or passwords – not even the police, bank staff, friends or family. 

• Cover up. When entering your PIN number at ATMs and EFTPOS terminals, shield the PIN pad with your other hand. Criminals may ‘skim’ your card details by attaching a device to the card reader, and then ‘shoulder surf’ or use hidden cameras to record your PIN. 

• Check your statements. Advise your bank immediately of any unauthorised transactions. 

For more back to basics personal finance guidance here's how to order a copy of Amanda's book Money Matters: Get your Life and $ Sorted. The book is also available in ebook format as well via Amazon and is replete with hyper links to help you get your finances in order. Take Five is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can also follow Amanda on Twitter @amandamorrall; check out her previous Take Fives here.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment in the box on the right or click on the "'Register" link at the bottom of the comments.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.


""Those who have done the

""Those who have done the right thing and prepared for their future by saving have been hammered and now there is little incentive for future generations to save; what message does this send out and what mess will we have to fix in years to come."
Sorry Amanda...but this UK thieving is also going on here.
And with the OBR plan to save banking bosses by stealing savers deposits...who bothers to put cash in any bank!
So best option is to use the cash saved through your good habits plan, has to be to slash the mortgage or any other debt first..then get with the tools to make that garden is the time to till and prepare...time to build the powered out the rubbish and put in berries..get the sprogs involved...set up a worm farm...learn how to make your own bread..So many things to do...just avoid leaving cash in a bank!