Five steps to a better financial future

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to get ahead financially in 2017? If so, these five tips may help you take control of your money and achieve your financial goals.

Step 1: Review your finances
The first thing you need to do is work out your current financial situation and set financial goals.

‘Work out your short, medium and long term financial goals and priorities and put a plan in place to achieve them in 2017,” says MoneySmart Senior Executive Leader Miles Larbey.

Take advantage of your right to a free annual credit report, then use the MoneySmart money health check calculator and, if you answer a few questions about the state of your finances, it will give you tips to improve them by working out where you spend and where you save. You’ll also find a great budget planner to help you create a basic budget plan.

You can then use the MoneySmart TrackMySPEND app to help you to manage your money.

Step 2: Master your debts
One of the ways that people lose money is paying interest on credit cards and debt. The festive season is a time when credit card use goes into overdrive. To help you wrangle back that debt as quickly as possible, use the MoneySmart credit card calculator to see how much time and money you can save by making higher repayments.

Step 3: Build a savings buffer
Saving money for emergencies or unexpected expenses means you won’t have to borrow to safeguard against financial strife. Open a separate savings account and make regular automatic payments to build a savings buffer.

MoneySmart’s informative video (below) can show you how to build your savings and its savings goal calculator can help you to work out how long it will take to reach your goals.

Step 4: Maximise your super
Learning exactly how your super works, or even just getting a better handle on the super system enables you to take control of your retirement income. YourLifeChoices provides a wealth (pun intended) of resources to help you attain better knowledge of your superannuation.

According to MoneySmart, one of the first things you should do is review your super statement, then work out whether it’s best to combine multiple accounts in order to save fees. Also, by making extra contributions and reviewing your investment options, you can make a big difference to your retirement income. ASIC’s MoneySmart retirement planner can help you there.

Step 5: Seek financial advice if you need it
If you need help with your finances, the MoneySmart financial advice toolkit should be your first port of call.

“It will help you navigate the financial advice process step by step, choose a financial adviser and know the questions to ask,” said Mr Larbey.

ASIC is the Australian Government agency responsible for financial literacy, consistent with its strategic priority to promote consumer confidence and trust in the financial system.  Financial literacy is about having the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours to make good financial decisions.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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