The New Year is a time when people often vow to change or improve something in their life.
While quitting smoking, losing weight and getting fit are common resolutions, many of us forget to take stock of our financial well-being.
The following New Year financial checklist can help anyone, regardless of their income, improve their financial position in 2013.
New Year Financial Checklist
1. Do a new budget
Your income and expenses may have changed over the last 12 months, so it’s a good idea to do a fresh budget. On the AMP website there is a Budget Planner Calculator – which can help you crunch the numbers. The rule of thumb is to make sure you’re not spending more than you earn.
2. Pay off Christmas credit debt
It’s important to take control of your debt early in the New Year before it starts controlling you. Pay off ‘bad’ debt like credit cards first as they usually have the highest interest rates. Once bad debts are under control you can then target other debts such as your car and home loan.
If you have several maxed-out credit cards, consider rolling all of the debt into one low interest card to save on interest and annual fees.
3. Review your mortgage
The most effective way to save interest on your home loan is to make extra repayments each month. The monthly repayments on a $300,000 mortgage over a 25 year term at 6.5 per cent are around $2,025.^
By increasing your monthly repayments by $400 you could save $67,127 in interest and pay the loan off five years and seven months earlier. ^^You can also attack your loan faster by paying fortnightly instead of monthly and making lump sum repayments whenever you can.
4. Get super smart
On average Australians have three super accounts each, wasting as much as $1.1 billion a year in fees. Websites such as the Tax Office’s SuperSeeker can help you track your missing super. Once you have found it, consider consolidating it into a single account to keep fees to a minimum.
Salary sacrificing is also a great idea if you can afford it. While your employer must contribute the 9 per cent Government Super Guarantee, topping up your super by another two to five per cent of your salary can make a huge difference to your nest egg.
5. Protect your family
It’s not something anyone wants to think about, but you need to ask yourself how your family would cope financially if you or your partner were injured in an accident, became too sick to work, or passed away.
Insurance doesn’t have to be a big drain on the budget. If cash flow is tight, you can get affordable life insurance and income protection through your superannuation.
6. Have an emergency fund
Your financial position can change suddenly and unexpectedly, so it’s important to have some money set aside for a rainy day. A good rule of thumb is to have at least three months salary in the kitty. This will avoid the need to rely on credit cards in the event of an emergency.
7. Set goals
While most people are pretty good at saving for short-term goals such as end of year holidays, they often forget to put money aside for the future. Make sure you set some medium-term goals such as how much you want to reduce your home loan by. Also plan for long-term milestones like saving for the kids’ education and retirement funding. Review your goals at the end of the year to see how you’ve fared.
Aspire Planning Group Pty Ltd is an Authorised Representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd, ABN 89 051 208 327, AFS Licence No. 232706.
Any advice given is general only and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, before acting on any advice, you should consult a financial planner to consider how appropriate the advice is to your objectives, financial situation and needs.
^ Figures are based on a $300,000 mortgage with a 25 year term and interest rate of 6.5 per cent using AMP’s online mortgage calculator.
^^ Figures are based on an extra monthly payment of $400, started five years into the term of the loan, using AMP’s online mortgage calculator.