Tips for a prosperous New (Financial) Year
By Jason Cunningham – Director of The Practice
Happy New Financial Year! We Accountants get very excited at this time of year. (It doesn’t take much.) But so should you, as it’s a great opportunity to set yourself up financially. Just as we set personal goals when entering a new year, the end of financial year is the perfect time to revisit your money goals, see if you’re on track, and make new money resolutions to work towards. Setting New Financial Year resolutions is one thing… but just like New Years resolutions, the real challenge is sticking to them. Below are my Hot Tips for what financial resolutions everyone should focus on – as well as some suggestions to help you make them stick:
Jay’s Hot Tips – new financial year resolutions
1. Set clear goals
Without having a goal of where you want to get to, how can you ever expect to get anywhere? So the first thing is to set some clear goals for what you want to achieve in the coming financial year. Is it to save for a holiday? Get organised throughout the year so your tax is a hassle-free process come 30 June? Or is it time you finally took control of your money and made real progress towards a significant financial milestone – like buy a house, invest in the sharemarket, or take advantage of the benefits of a self-managed super fund?
2. Sort your Super
For most people, your super is your biggest asset aside from the family home. So it makes sense to give it some consideration and ensure it’s ticking along for you (so you’re self-sufficient when it’s time for life after work).
- Consolidate your funds to avoid unnecessary admin fees
- Check your fees – is your current fund competitive? Or are fees eating into your account? Compare your fees with other funds, to ensure your super isn’t being eroded unnecessarily
- Is your investment level appropriate? If you’re a younger person with a long-term outlook (long time until you retire), the default option may be too conservative for you. Most super funds give you a range of investment options, so get expert advice about which one is the best for you right now.
- Is your fund delivering? Check your returns for the last 3 years – does it compare favourably with the best-performing funds? Or could your retirement nestegg be boosted significantly by shifting to a better-performing fund?
3. Master your credit card
Credit cards can be a fantastic tool – provided you use them correctly. I devote a whole chapter to mastering your credit card in my book Where’s My Money? Here are two things to consider:
- Pay down your credit card debt. Pretty obviously, the best way to avoid paying loads in interest is to pay off your credit cards. There are several strategies to do this, which I’ll cover in future posts.
- Use your credit card for good. Check out my FREE eBook, The Pain-Free Budget, where I reveal how I use my credit card to keep track of my spending (while enjoying the benefits of the interest-free period, as well as accumulate rewards points)
4. Start a regular savings plan
Beware the old agage ‘The more we earn, the more we spend’ – you need to take money off yourself if you ever plan to get ahead. One of the best ways to do so is to set up an automatic transfer from your bank account as soon as you get it – that way you don’t see it, and can’t spend it. Refer to the table The power of a regular savings plan to see the impact compounding interest can have over a number of years – the results can be life-changing!
5. Make a budget – the smart way
People often tell me they don’t have a budget as it’s too hard. That’s fine… but you’ll never get to where you want to without one. But in reality, a budget is nowhere near as painful as you might think. I cover all you need to know about setting up an effective budget – without living in a monastery – in my free eBook The Pain-Free Budget. You can download it at my website jasoncunningham.com.au.
6. Take a day off work to work on yourself
This is where all of the above comes together – plus a bunch of other things you know you ‘should’ get to, but never get the time. You work hard for your employer – but I encourage everyone to take one annual leave day a year to work on your finances. For example:
- Revisit your financial goals – how did you go last year?
- Review all insurances & utilities
- Ensure you’re getting the best rate on your mortgage, and that you have the best product available (if older than 2 years, its out of date)
- Review your budget (just one hour each year)
- Where can you reduce expenses?
- Where can you increase your income?
- Review your financial strategy – are you on track to achieve your financial goals? If you don’t have a strategy, you really need an expert to help you build one.
7. Get a strategy to build wealth
Get help from an expert – small investment will pay off in $ and comfort that you’re on track to achieve your goals If you don’t have a financial planner, it pays to do your research until you find one you feel comfortable with. Here are some Questions to ask a prospective financial adviser to help you choose one. Once you have a strategy in place, not only will you benefit from the expert advice – you’ll also enjoy the peace of mind knowing you’re finally on track to achieve your goals. Be sure to revisit your strategy every year to ensure it keeps pace with your changing life stage and circumstances. Well, that’s it – all you need to set up for a prosperous new financial year. I’d love to get your feedback on these tips, and hear what’s worked for you.