That probably sounds weird coming from someone who wrote a book with the by-line gaining financial control in uncertain times. 

 

The fact is my finances were under control, then something beyond my control, threw them into a state of flux. 

 

That something was inflation. 

 

Before the start of the year, I am pretty sure I’d never uttered the word inflation in a social setting. 

 

These days, it comes up at least once a week. In fact, the term inflation is being Googled more often than Taylor Swift right now. 

 

I have no control over the pandemic, war in Ukraine, or the weather. Yet all three have contributed to my monthly budget going into a tailspin. 

 

The interest bill on my mortgage has increased, as has our weekly grocery bill, and household fuel cost. Not to mention we can probably expect the electricity bill next quarter to come in higher too. 

 

So, over the past month or so I took matters into my own hands and wrestled back control. 

 

While none of us can control the cost of living, we have 100 per cent control of how much money leaves our bank accounts each day, week and month. 

 

Here’s a few of the things I did to kick-start my process of wrestling back control: 

 

1. Cancelled my cards 

 

The ultimate detox. 

 

I cancelled all my credit and debit cards, to end all of the direct debits that I’d set up. 

 

Within a day I was approached by a bunch of retailers who had to contact me directly to re-establish those regular withdrawals, at which time I was able to consider whether I really needed them. 

 

As inconvenient as it can be having to re-establish them all, it has saved me $40 per month so far, covering a decent chunk of the extra cost of our groceries! 

 

2. Cooking at home

 

We don’t eat out much, a few times a week. 

 

Yet my wife and I decided to cut back on one of those outings. The difference between eating out and eating at home might come to another $100 per month, again covering a decent chunk of the extra cost we’re paying for groceries, fuel and electricity.  

 

(In years gone by I chose to pack my lunch instead of buying it each day, which achieves the same result). 

 

3. Rang the bank 

 

The Reserve Bank of Australia say that banks in Australia are charging their existing customers 0.45 per cent higher interest rates than they offer their new customers. 

 

On the average loan ($600,000) that works out to be a difference of $225 per month. 

 

I rang the banks I have loans with and asked them if they could reduce my interest rate. You can search their advertised rates online as a bit of ammunition to accompany the request. 

 

I was given a 0.2% cut across the board. That works out to be a saving of more than $100 per month for the average borrower (and I have more debt than the average borrower!). 

 

4. Took out my cash (as usual) 

 

Ok, so this one didn’t make any contribution to my weekly expenses. I withdraw cash every week for my discretionary spending. 

 

I withdraw roughly 20 per cent of my weekly after tax pay for discretionary spending. Things like coffee, eating out, beers and entertainment. (Everyone will have a different percentage that works for them). 

 

It’s not tied to inflation and once it’s gone, it’s gone.  

 

5. Tried to earn more money 

 

Ok, so this last one isn’t within your control, but I think is worth giving some thought. 

 

In addition to making sure less money goes out, is it possible to bring more money in? 

 

Not everyone has a job that lends itself to this kind of opportunity, but the alternative could be working overtime, or even taking a second job. 

 

Rather than simply asking for a pay rise, do some preparation before meeting with your boss. Have you taken on more responsibility recently? Is there something else you think you could be doing that would benefit the company? 

 

That, working overtime, or taking on a second job might be something you’re willing to do in order to offset the rising cost of living. 

 

It’s not possible to do it all in one go, as there will be other bills I deal with throughout the year as they come up (insurances, holidays, perhaps you’re a tenant on a lease, etc). 

 

The important thing is I’ve wrestled back control. I’m back to saving 10 per cent of my after-tax pay. 

 

The mental freedom as a result of being in control, of not having to worry when things are happening beyond my control, is invaluable.