28 Dec 2016

Getting started on your financial plan

One in every two Australians doesn’t believe they’re doing enough to reach their financial goals, and self-doubt is a big reason why, according to the latest MLC Wealth Sentiment Survey.

But with the research indicating that only one in four Aussies have a financial plan, Renee Hush of MLC Advice, says that getting a plan in place is crucial to addressing self-doubt and working towards achieving our financial goals.

“Getting started can sometimes be the hardest part, but if you’ve never done it before, putting together a financial plan can be overwhelming.”

To get on track, Hush recommends a simple four step process.

MLC Advice – putting together your own financial plan:

Set your goals

It’s hard to get anywhere with your money if you don’t know your goals, so reflecting on what you want to achieve is important.

  1. Write down your goals. One to five goals works best.
  2. Calculate how much you will need to achieve each goal (you can do this in a way that makes sense to you – week, month or year).
  3. Set a date for when you would like to reach them by. Put the dates on a plan as a reminder of what you are working towards, even if they are decades into the future.
  4. Put a picture on the plan to keep you focused.

Work out your budget

This can be daunting, but being clear on the state of your incomings and outgoings is vital to your success.

  1. Work out your income versus expenses (include everything – mortgage/rent, bills, clothing, gifts).
  2. If you have no idea of your spending, put everything on your debit or credit card for a month to track it and write down the details of any cash expenditure.
  3. Work out your surplus or deficit.
  4. If you have a deficit then, you will need to look at strategies to make this a surplus. This will include cutting spending and increasing your income.
  5. Your surplus is the money to achieve your goals.

Prioritise your list of goals

Prioritising your goals is helpful in determining how much of your surplus you will dedicate to each goal.

  1. Look at your list and prioritise your goals from one to five. No goal should have an equal priority.
  2. You may wish to put a percentage toward each priority. For example, 50 per cent towards your top priority, 20 per cent towards your second, 15, ten and five per cent towards your third, fourth and fifth priorities.
  3. Adjust this based on your surplus and time horizon. This may mean that you cannot contribute to all goals, but at least you have them recorded for the future.

Review your plan and budget regularly 

Achieving your goal requires focus and commitment, but it also means you have to be aware of where your money is going and how you’re tracking on reaching your goals.

  1. Do a monthly check of all your bank accounts and credit cards to ensure you are staying within your budget
  2. Establish dedicated savings accounts for each separate goal and check them regularly. This will help you to stay motivated as you see the balance rise.

ENDS

The information in this media release is general advice and tailored for Australian residents.  The information does not take account of your objectives, financial situation or needs.  You should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on the information.

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