A smarter approach to budgeting
What if there was a way to spend less time managing your bills and budget? What if you could get your financial institution to help you pay your bills? Well, turns out there is. Queensland Country Credit Union has launched its SmartBudget account, a clever little online tool that helps you stay on top of your budget.
If you’ve watched telly recently, you may have seen NQ Cowboys’ Gavin “Coops” Cooper getting crash-tackled on his front lawn as he checks his mailbox. This comical spectacle is all part of Queensland Country Credit Union’s promotion for its nifty SmartBudget product, which lets you tackle your bills with ease.
There’s no denying bills that seem to ‘creep up on you’ can be the cause of a great deal of stress for many of us, and as Queensland Country’s Head of Strategic Projects Glenn Seri, who led the development of SmartBudget, points out budgeting is part of a financial institution’s role.
“SmartBudget is a way for our Members to allocate what their budget is for the year ahead – a full 12 months – we then divide that by their number of pays over 12 months, and work out one regular payment – either weekly, fortnightly or monthly,” explains Glenn. “We then pay the bills for them. We call it cash flow smoothing for your budgeting.”
SmartBudget, which costs just $5 per month, uses an online portal available to all Queensland Country Members who are employed and aged 17 years and older. The tool allows users to plan for and pay bills while better managing budgets – all with the overarching goal of reducing bill-induced stress and achieving financial aspirations faster.
“People need more from their financial institution today. We believe budgeting is one such thing.”
– Glenn Seri
“Take a family scenario,” shares Glenn. “With kids in private school, come February there will be school fees, as well as an energy bill, phone bill and all those regular bills. They can total almost $5,000 in the one month. By using SmartBudget, they don’t need to find the $5,000 in that month, instead it is smoothed out over the year.”
It’s easy to see how this tool can assist families, couples, singles and even 17 year olds in managing their budget more easily. Budgeting is a learned behaviour, and for many people that segue from high school student to real-world adult can be a financially vulnerable time. A strategic approach to budgeting early on can help set you up for life, while poor budgeting decisions can lead to unpaid bills, bad credit and snowballing debt.
“As a customer-owned financial institutions it’s about doing the right thing for our Members,” explains Glenn of the strategy behind SmartBudget. “So we look at what our Members want, and one of the things they said was, ‘we need help with budgeting’.”
While Queensland Country has offered a Bill Paying service, since 1971, it was a manual process where Members had to take bills into a branch where they could be managed. “We have now completely digitised that process, in the form of our SmartBudget product,” says Glenn, who adds that Members can still take their bills into a branch if they prefer. “We actually enjoy sitting down with Members and take the time to help them going through their budget; and Members get a lot of value out of that too – often they see opportunity to do things differently.”
With the days of going to your local branch just to withdraw a $50 note long gone, Glenn says Queensland Country’s focus is on what value the institution needs to deliver to its customers. “People need more from their financial institution today. We believe budgeting is one such thing.”
Low monthly fees, no fees for cheques, BPAY or direct debits, and a tool that can actually help you save? SmartBudget is a strategic and simple way to tackle your bills before they knock you over. It’s the smarter approach to budgeting.
To find out more about SmartBudget, visit qccu.com.au/smartbudget for a full list of FAQs, or visit your local branch.