So, you’ve decided to forego the annual New Year’s resolution guilt trip. You’ll just do better with your drinking and diet, without making a federal case of it.
But that self-improvement itch won’t let you be – it’s that lull after the festive season when it feels right to set goals, establish purpose for the year ahead.
Well, why not straighten up your finances?
Australians are divided by their attitudes to spending, according to new research by comparison site Finder.
A survey of 1004 Australians reveals that almost two-thirds (61 per cent) consider themselves ‘savers’, while the remaining 39 per cent are self-professed ‘spenders’.
Of those who save their money, 44 per cent are predominantly frugal but admit to splurging from time to time, while 17 per cent are steadfast savers who like to be prepared.
Spenders are made up of those who still manage to save a little (30 per cent), and those who don’t save anything (9 per cent).
But whether you’re a spender or a saver, the pandemic has reminded us how precarious our jobs and incomes are, and how much money we need in case of emergencies.
Finder personal finance specialist Taylor Blackburn says the new year is a chance to tune up our finances.
“Just as marriages and friendships require work, so does your relationship with your finances.
“The new year is a great time to review your money mindset and hit reset if necessary.
“What feelings do you have around the state of your spending? Are you sabotaging yourself? Could you educate yourself on a particular area of your finances?
“It’s never too late to start over and regain control,” Mr Blackburn said.
“Becoming aware of your money mindset is an important first step towards taking control of your finances.”
Mr Blackburn suggests three financial habits to establish in 2021.
Track your spending
This is the most effective way to keep on top of your finances. Use an app to track and categorising your spending across your everyday, savings and credit card accounts.
Save 20 per cent of your salary
“Everyone’s financial position is different, but this is a good starting point if you’re unsure how much you should be putting away. Even a smaller increment of 5 per cent is better than nothing – consistency is key.”
Review your financial products
“When was the last time you reviewed your home loan or credit-card rate? Interest rates have never been lower, so if you haven’t switched in a while, there’s a good chance you could be paying too much.”
Here are some other tips for New Year’s money wisdom:
Automate your finances
“It’s smart to set up automatic bill pay for all of your monthly recurring bills using your bank app or website. You can do the same for your investments and your other financial goals, in general, to help save even more.” (entrepreneur.com)
Keep new habits developed under quarantine as your new normal
“Even if the economy further reopens in 2021 as coronavirus vaccines become available, make sure to keep money saving habits that you developed because of the quarantine.
“For example, because of the quarantine, all of us were forced to significantly reduce the frequency we go out of town for vacations, buy coffee and eat out in restaurants. Although we do not need to completely stop these leisure activities when conditions normalise, we should consciously do them less often because the amount we spend on those activities can easily add up. Besides, many of us now have new habits that allow us to stay entertained even at home. We are also probably used to brewing our own coffee and cooking our own meals.” (business.inquirer.net)
Enlist an accountability buddy
“Utilise the help of a partner, friend or family member, who is also trying to save money, to help both of you stick to your budget and savings goal for 2021.” (The New Daily)
Do an audit of your belongings
Donate or sell what you don’t use on platforms such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree. You could have hundreds, if not thousands of dollars’ worth of items you could easily turn into cash.
Round up your transactions
Some savings accounts let you to the nearest $1 or $5 and deposit the difference. So, if your morning coffee costs $4.50, you will be debited $5 and 50 cents will be sent to your savings account. These small savings with each transaction can add up to a significant amount over the course of a year.
Do your food shopping online
Shopping with a set ingredients list cuts back on travel expenses to the supermarket, helps you avoid impulse purchases, and lets you take things that you really don’t need out of your shopping basket with the click of a button.
Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Did 2020 make you reassess your finances?
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