Five new financial year resolutions to start now
With the end of financial year just around the corner, it's time to start with a clean slate and take control of your finances.
Here are five financial new year resolutions to help you take charge of your money.
1. Build and maintain a practical monthly budget
And stick to it! Creating a written plan will help you allocate your hard-earned funds to the right things, and spare you the guilt associated with unnecessary spending.
Treat your budget as a financial calendar where you can note your independent variables such as birthdays, bills and school fees, so you can foresee large expenses and avoid the last-minute scramble.
Plus, it's not all bad. Having a monthly budget allows you to have accurate visibility on how much you can afford to treat yourself.
That way, you know how much you can spend on yourself without the constant worry of having a defunct bank account plaguing you. If you need a tool to get you started, try ASIC's quick and easy online budget planner.
2. Get your bills under control
Bills are the bane of our financial existence. For some, bill paying is a robotic process, resulting in passiveness towards those extra hidden costs, or those additional megabytes of internet data that were charged out of nowhere.
The attitude can be "whatever, let's just pay it off and be done with it".
If this sounds like you, it's time to call your service providers and attempt to negotiate better deals. Taking control of your bills can immediately accelerate your savings and get you to the finish line quicker.
Do some research on the different providers in the market - often quoting competing rates to your current providers can earn you a significant discount.
For the serial late bill payer, your first resolution should be to set up reminders, alerts or even blaring alarms to remind you to pay on time and avoid those wasteful late fees.
3. Hold onto your receipts and keep a record of all your purchases
Far from "hoarding", holding onto receipts will give you a reality check on how much you actually spend on non-essential items or services.
The diligence will be worth your while when it comes to preparing next year's tax return and getting more bang for your buck!
4.Know what your direct debits are
Set-and-forget payments are convenient but we are prone to forget what we are paying for and where that money is coming from.
Get organised and consolidate recurring payments, such as bills, Netflix and gym memberships, which may be spread across numerous credit cards, to be paid through an online system such as PayPal, which allows you to see all your transactions in one place.
5. Commit to the 50/30/20 budget ratio
If planning is not your style, sticking to this basic rule is the best way to go. Allocate 50% of your income to essential costs such as rent or mortgage, bills, transport and food.
Then allow 30% for discretionary spending and personal expenses. With the final 20%, use this wisely by putting it into savings, paying off existing debt or investing.
That 20% is usually where the temptation to spend, rather than save, arises. If you think you cannot resist the urge, consider keeping that 20% in a separate account, out of sight and out of mind.
If you are struggling, ask for help. The ASIC website has a list of financial counsellors who can provide free and confidential advice for anyone dealing with financial issues. You can also make a free call to the National Debt Helpline, 1800 007 007.