Financial hangover hitting Aussies hardMake sure you’ve done the math to ensure you can pay off your debt within the interest-free period, says financial educator and founder of the Ladies Finance Club, Molly Benjamin. Picture: iStock.

Staying on top of your bills and finances can be challenging at the best of times but according to money experts, February can be a particularly difficult month.

And if you celebrated a little too hard during December and January, than you may be experiencing a February financial hangover worse than the aftermath of all your holiday parties combined.

It’s a scenario that financial educator and founder of the Ladies Finance Club, Molly Benjamin is familiar with.

“People have been enjoying the fun times and celebrating and then reality hits. Then they realise their increased spending can’t continue and it needs to be paid back,” she told

“It’s quite common for people to think that if I can just get through December and January, then I’ll start paying it all off. Then I’ll go really strict on my budget. However, now there are also additional stresses we’re seeing from COVID, as well as back-to-school and seasonal costs.”


The early months of the year also tend to be the time when banks offer tempting low-rate credit cards and balance transfer offers.

However, while a six to 24-month, zero-interest rate balance transfer offer – where you transfer the debt of an existing credit card to a new one – may seem like a great idea, keep in mind they often incur a much higher interest rate once the promotional period lapses.

“It’s great if you have a plan and you’re able to get out of that debt faster but what we often find is that people aren’t able to make that plan and they get stuck with a higher rate, which can result in more stress and a bad credit score,” she says.


If you’ve found yourself counting your dollars and drastically cutting your budget, Ms Benjamin says it’s definitely not too late to “dust off your New Year’s resolutions and get back out there”. However, if you need some help to get back on track, she shares her top tips on how to revamp your finances.

1. Stop spending on your card

If you struggle with credit card debt, or ‘buy now, pay later’ programs, the first step is to stop the cycle.

“Literally cut it up. Melt it, put it on the fire,” says Ms Benjamin.

2. Automation is the key

Whether that’s automating your bills or savings, this step ensure your money gets organised without you having to give it a second thought.

“When your money comes in, you know that the money for your bills is being put aside,” she says.

3. Build an emergency fund

“Deposit $1000 in a fee free account which you build up to three to six months of expenses and as the name suggests, only touch it in emergency moments – for example if the car broke down, my tooth chipped,” she says.

“This means you don’t need to put expenses on a credit card and you’ll avoid getting into deeper debt.”

RELATED: How much money should you have in your emergency fund?

4. Focus on paying down your debt

For this, Ms Benjamin recommends two methods: the snowball method or the avalanche method. The snowball method involves paying off your debts from the smallest amount to the largest (while paying the minimum repayments for each).

The avalanche method prioritise debts that incur the highest interest rates, regardless of the amount.

While she says both techniques work, she prefers the snowball method which increases your “little wins”.

“It’s all about creating behavioural change and getting those small wins quickly which results in that hit of dopamine.”

5. Write down your goals

This will help you solidify your “short, medium and long-term financial goals” to help keep you on track, says Ms Benjamin. She also says it may be helpful for people to audibly read out their goals weekly or even daily to keep them motivated.

“I find with our members, so many of them don’t have goals. They haven’t actually sat down and asked ‘what do I really want?’ and if you don’t know what you want, then you can’t create a plan to achieve them,” she says.


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