Tidying up your finances as the year ends may not seem like fun, but starting the year with a clean(er) slate will make you feel much better.
1. Get educated
Everyone assumes that they know how to budget but if, at the end of the month, you’re left with nothing, then maybe a refresher is needed. Many TAFEs run short courses on how to manage money, budgeting and borrowing money.
2. Create a budget
You may think you know what you have coming in or, more importantly, what you have going out, but a few dollars here and there can make or break a budget. Creating a budget doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be realistic. Get tips on how to create a budget and stick to it by managing your income and expenditure. You can also download the budget spreadsheet, which can be used online or in Excel format.
3. Save for a rainy day
With the best will in the world many people resolve to save more, but seldom does the money ever reach your savings account. A direct debit will ensure the money goes directly to your savings account, removing any temptation to spend rather than save. Using a savings calculator can help you understand the benefits of compound interest on your nest egg.
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4. Don’t pay more than you have to
The hassle of changing lenders is usually what keeps people with the same financial institution, even though there may be a better deal out there. Recent changes in legislation, which have led to lower exit fees and simplified application processes, have made it easier to switch lenders. A loan comparison tool will indicate how much you can save.
5. Budget on the run
Smart phone apps make budgeting on the go really simple. So before you spend big at the shops, you can work out what you can really afford. Keep track of your spending, compare one month to another and categorise your costs to track where all your money is going.
Budget for iPhone $1.99 – www.itunes.apple.com/au
Expense Manager for Android free – www.googleplay.com.au
6. Grab a discount
When trying to cut costs, whether it’s servicing your car, getting your carpets cleaned or eating out for a special treat, discount coupons are a great way to access special offers. There are quite a few sites around that offer a coupon search and the ability to print coupons online.
7. Claim your missing money
Currently, there is $600 million of unclaimed money from bank accounts, life insurance policies and shares just floating around looking for a new home. Topped with the $13 billion in unclaimed super, that’s a whole lot of money waiting to be claimed. Just a few simple details such as tax file number and date of birth could see you and your missing money reunited.
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8. Energy rate comparison
There’s no escaping paying energy bills so it makes sense to ensure you’re getting the best price on your power bills. Compare your rates for gas and electricity and you could save by simply switching provider.
9. Check your credit file
You may think that you have a clear credit file but there may be something lurking that can adversely affect your rating. A simple input error, information lodged against you rather than someone with a similar name, or credit fraudulently obtained under your name will be noted on your file and needs action to be rectified.
10. Best deals for phone and broadband
If you currently have a home phone, mobile phone, internet connection, or all three, it’s important to ensure you’re not paying more than you have to. Depending on your usage, it may make sense to bundle all your plans together, or perhaps simply search for the best individual deals.
Home phones: //www.yourlifechoices.com.au
Mobile phones: //www.yourlifechoices.com.au