GOING on a road trip with the family over the Easter break seemed like a great idea at the time. Don't get me wrong; I'm very much looking forward to hanging out with my wonderful sister-in-law Sarah, her husband Mark, my husband Simon and my mother-in-law Jude, on our visit to family in central NSW.
But like any weekend away, I always spend a lot more money than I planned to and all of my dismal savings seem to vanish over the short period from paying off my Christmas credit card bill in January to topping up my summer wardrobe from the sales in February and March.
And then there are the not-so-subliminal messages in advertising to eat lots of chocolate over Easter, as I'm always drawn towards the lolly shops filled with Easter eggs. I end up at least a few kilos heavier from all the festive goodness and this year will no doubt be just the same.
This is why April is a great month to kick-start your diet and get your body and wallet back into shape. And here's how:
Set realistic goals
There's no point dreaming about a round-the-world family trip by next Christmas if you have credit card debt and are installing an in-ground swimming pool by summer ... Well, you can always dream.
Just like your weight-loss target, if you make your savings goal realistic you will not only enjoy the shopping spree or summer holiday at the end, but you will feel great for being able to achieve them.
Shop aroundThe Web is so handy for your new goals. From searching for low-fat recipes to comparing savings accounts everything you need is at your finger tips.
For example, if your goal is to save $5000 by December, there are plenty of options with online savings accounts. By putting away about $620 per month into an online account with ING Direct or UBank, which offer 5.85 percent per annum, you will earn $100 in interest to put towards your goal.
Most banks offer automated savings plans so you can spend more time on your treadmill rather than transferring funds from one account to another. Many of these cost nothing to set up and you can choose the frequency and amount you wish to deposit. It's better than leaving your cash wasting away in an almost-zero-interest debit account.
Also here's a great link for my favourite low-fat recipes.
There's no point in spending your time choosing a savings account and learning new recipes if you don't make the most of them. Stay on track to your end destination and your waistline and wallet will be thanking you in no time.
Michelle Hutchison is Consumer Advocate at RateCity.
The above information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.