New Year, New Financial You!
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
So holidays are over, the kids are back at school and we are all wondering how quickly 2019 will go!
If you are like me, you haven't even had a chance to reassess your finances or goals for 2019 as your "Christmas Break" was filled with too many activities in the sun, BBQ's with friends and family and spending ridiculous amounts of money.
In fact, I think I have spending fatigue!
We often see a lot of people dealing with extensive credit card debt (or After Pay) at this time of year. A lot of households are paying off the Christmas expenses and trying to get their finances in order for a new financial year.
In order to reassess my finances and to help you all, I decided to put together a few tips for the year ahead!
PAY OFF THOSE DEBTS
So the credit card is racked up and maybe that "After Pay" account has hit its maximum. For me, the next few weeks may mean meal planning from our items already in the pantry and freezer and declining all adventures that don't include a picnic basket and a bottle of BYO wine.
If you wish to get on top of your debts for 2019, break down what you owe into little smaller amounts by prioritising what you pay first.
Dave Ramsay, a finance expert from the USA (I call him the original barefoot investor), created what is called the "debt snowball" (https://www.daveramsey.com/get-started/debt?snid=tools.howtogetoutofdebt).
It basically involves the following steps
- list all your debts in order from smallest to largest
- get your debt snowball rolling by paying as much as you can on the smallest balance (this will keep you motivated as you can see debts going)
- once you have paid something off, move on to the next debt on the list
Another option is to pay off the debt with the highest interest first.
I always like to have a print off, like the one shown here <----- on my fridge or in my bedroom whereby I can track how we are going with our debt each week visually.
I know, it sounds a little weird, but ever since I have started displaying our financial goals around the house, it motivates me to work harder and save to achieve our goals. All I ask is that you give it a try.
If you feel overwhelmed with your debt obligations, financial counselling is a free service you can use if you need help sorting out your debts. Please note that the waiting time for financial counselors can be long.
START WITH A BUDGET
This is the MOST IMPORTANT financial step you can take! It you haven't ever done a budget or sat down to review your expenses in the last year then this is a must! I see so many clients that have never budgeted or reviewed their income and expenses.
Yes it's scary, daunting and ... Yes, you have to admit that you may have a spending problem! However, once completed (it will only take a few hours of your time), you will hopefully feel a greater sense of control, clarity and responsibility for your financial situation.
If budgeting isn't your thing and you feel you need a money coach like a fitness coach for losing weight and getting fit, a financial coach can help with your finances. This is where I fit in. I help clients every day reassess their finances, face their financial fears and emotions around money. Let me help you if you find this first step hard! I have all the tools and resources and can help you to review your spending, create categories for your expenses and then discuss a banking structure that may assist you with your future financial goals.
If you don't have a budget template, you can access one on the MoneySmart Website. https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/budget-planner. I also have one that I have created through Women's Financial Education in a paper version and also an Excel Document. Please give me a call if you wish to have these forwarded to you.
SET UP A BANKING STRUCTURE
This is a hard step, you need to ideally work out what type of bank accounts you may need. You can follow barefoot investor here, or create your own!
I normally map out our bank accounts on a big piece of paper to see exactly what expenses should come out of what account. I often have clients ask me how many accounts I have. The number of accounts (or envelopes if you work with cash) really depends on how much control you need on your spending, if you are a spender, then maybe more accounts would help you control your money better.
I personally have the following accounts:
- Everyday Spending
- Ongoing Bills (Personal) - Phone, personal insurance premiums
- Car - Covers registration, insurance, repairs and maintenance
- Offset Account - Home bills
- Grocery Account
- Home Loan
- Credit Card - Unexpected expenses
- Savings Account
- Emergency Account
I have been using a banking structure now for over 12 years and find it is easy to understand and it really takes care of itself once set up. You only need to review if your expenses or income change.
It really is a personal choice with banking structures.
I assist clients all the time to map out their spending buckets. Call me today if you wish to discuss your buckets further.
INVEST IN FINANCIAL LITERACY
Read as many articles and books as you can on finance. I run workshops every few months on different topics, so register to attend these and increase your knowledge and awareness on your financial situation. It is really important to do this so that you can take charge and empower yourself!
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND
I was listening to this brilliant podcast the other day by ABC Radio's Claire Hooper. Jolted into action, she finds out: just how much money would she need in an emergency?
It is important to have a buffer (most say approximately three months of living expenses) and appropriate protection for your income and family which may include reviewing and implementing appropriate insurance coverage.
Our financial planning arm, Two Mile Bay Financial Planning will be able to assist with reviewing your Emergency Fund and insurance requirements if you need any help.
GET TO KNOW YOUR SUPER
I meet with so many clients who don't know where there superannuation is, let alone where it is invested, the fees on their account or if their employer has been making the correct contributions.
I urge all of you to get to know your super a little better. This link is a great start. https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/superannuation-and-retirement/how-super-works
If you need any further help with your super or would like to learn more about superannuation, I offer one on one General Advice appointments to explain how superannuation works. I will also be running some workshops on superannuation this year... so keep your eyes peeled.
NEW YEAR RESOLUTION
Around 10% of people actually keep their resolutions past January... seeings I haven't set any for myself yet.. I am giving myself to the end of February!!
The idea is not to get bored or overwhelmed with your resolution. I would suggest making a money resolution and a personal resolution each year.
Make the goal realistic. If you pin down your "Why" then you are more likely to stick to the "How".
My personal resolution this year is to cut back on my Caffeine intake. This will also result in savings for me on my daily coffee of $5.50 and assist my health!!
Other financial goals could include:
- saving a set amount each week for a holiday or financial goal (new house? renovations? reward?)
- cutting back on a luxury expense ... what I call a "Want" not a "Need"
- Learning about your finances
- Getting to know and taking control of your super
- Setting up a budget and banking structure
- Paying off a certain amount of debt
- Reviewing your emergency plan and seeing a solicitor for your will
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