The year is already in full swing, with many of us looking for savvy ways to get organised for the year ahead. After all, improving our finances is always at the top of the agenda.
Australians racked up over $52 billion dollars in credit card debt in 2017, with $29 billion accrued over Christmas time, which is $1727 on average per person. This significant individual amount can take an average credit card user at least five months to pay off, due to the challenge of keeping up with interest rates.
To help you get a financial advantage in 2018, Justin McMillan from Smartwealth shares his top tips to help improve your bank balance:
1. Make money!
This time of year the sharing economy is booming. If you have spare time you can pet sit or dog walk with Mad Paws or deliver parcels on Zoom2u. If it’s spare assets you have, marketplaces like Spacer.com.au helps you make money off unutilised space, such as your empty garage, and Camplify will allow you to rent out your spare caravan, motorhome or recreational vehicle (RV). You can double your second income during January through to February due to high demand for these services and make up to $1000 extra cash a month to help you clear your debt.
2. Watch your transactions
Make it a New Year resolution to consistently monitor and track your spending behaviour to not only highlight progress but allow evaluation if changes need to be made. Looking over the last few months of statements will allow you to monitor your spending across food, household goods, social activities, etc. In order to do that, download your existing credit reports through Creditsavvy.com.au to then review in detail and to plan how to handle debt payments. Also make sure to pay particular attention to your credit score to see whether you are showing improvement over time.
3. Reduce your interest rates
There are a few ways to go about this: you could negotiate your rate or do a balance transfer. There’s no harm in having a conversation with your bank to see whether they can lower your interest rates on your existing credit card. If that’s not possible, a balance transfer which will shift credit card debt to a new card with a lower interest rate might be your best option. However, be aware of any attached annual and transfer fees that may be involved.
4. Make use of sales
Whether it’s updating your new summer wardrobe or house interiors, keep your eye out for the several instore and online promotions, and sales on offer. Don’t feel pressured to buy things full price using your credit card. Remain focused on the off-season reductions.
5. Sell old and unwanted items
If you can’t stand the sight of your kids’ old bikes in the garage, why not sell these on websites such as Gumtree.com.au? It’s not only a great way to declutter, it also allows you to get back at least half of your investment which can then go towards paying off credit card debt and bills – or even replacing those bikes for a shiny new one! Make sure to price accordingly and consider other bids.
6. Negotiate with your providers
Set aside a few hours to call all of your product providers (your telco, insurance and power providers) and explain that you are shopping around and ask them if they can reduce your costs. Most of the time they will accommodate you with a reduction of five to 10 per cent.