Avoid short-term loans like the plague

Last updated 05:00 23/03/2014

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Last week, we figured out that we can give ourselves a "pay rise" by stomping out bad habits.

The examples we used - quitting smoking, or using less phone data - already saved as much as $3400.

For someone earning $35,000 a year, that's the equivalent of getting a 14 per cent pay rise.

But the worst habit we are finding is the prevalence of high interest, short-term loans used for everyday things.

These are avoidable loans but are sold so easily and convincingly that people often find themselves in difficulty.

A $200 loan will end up costing about $350, if you pay it on time.

I call this a bad habit because sensible budgeting and exploring all your options would avoid the need for a high-interest, short-term loan.

Saving $150 equates to a pay rise of 0.43 per cent for someone on $35,000.

A surprising number of our clients also buy takeaways once a week. Moderately priced takeaways might add up to $30 a week.

The rationale is usually that it's a Friday treat after working hard all week, which is fair enough.

But if you stretch it to once a fortnight instead, it turns a habit costing $1560 a year into just $780. Saving that cash works out to a pay rise of 2.3 per cent for someone on $35,000.

So for someone who smokes, has two short-term loans a year, has a medium-sized cellphone plan, and buys weekly takeaways for the family, there's $5230 to be saved.

All up, that's equivalent to a 17.5 per cent pay increase.

There may not be a lot of people who are exactly like this, but I bet there's a lot with one or two of these habits.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a pay rise?

Raewyn Fox is chief executive of the New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services.

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