With the holiday season coming to a close, it’s time to take a fresh look at your finances and make sure you’re prepared for the year ahead.
A recent NAB survey of more than 1,000 Australians found that 31% of all respondents listed saving money as their number one priority for 2015.
NAB’s General Manager of Wealth and Personal Banking, Ann-Marie Chamberlain, said that setting realistic goals is one of the first – and often most difficult – steps to take.
“Being realistic about your current financial position can often be an eye-opening experience,” she said.
“It is important to take a close look at your current financial position before working out where you want to be in 12 months’ time.
“Once you have done this, try to set realistic goals that you can easily track throughout the year.”
Here are a few ways to get more bang-for-your-buck in 2015.
Set realistic goals
Setting realistic goals with clear timelines will help identify how much you need to save and how to achieve your target. It’s not helpful to set a goal to save $12,000 in one year if you simply don’t have the capacity to save $1,000 per month. Be accountable to your goal and saving towards it. If this is something you may struggle with, look for a savings product that allow you to put savings targets in before you can access funds.
Track your spending
It can be confronting to see your spending broken down at the end of the month. Tracking your expenses in a diary or online for one or two months will identify where you are ‘leaking’ cash and how you can save more.
Save for the future
Make 2015 the year you build an emergency fund and protect yourself and your family with insurance. In an ideal situation, you would have between three to six months of living expenses saved in case of an emergency or personal injury. If having this sort of money set aside in case of an emergency isn’t achievable, at the very least look into personal income protection and critical illness insurance cover to protect yourself.
Manage debt smarter
Make 2015 your year to focus on paying down all non-essential debts – for example credit cards, store cards and personal loans. Another important focus should be avoiding taking on new debt until you are managing your existing obligations. Balance transfers are a good way to consolidate your debt and help you manage debt smarter.
Take control of your super and tax
Most super funds will be sending you a half yearly statement in late January, so review your fund and its performance. Have a look at the fees you are paying, do they make sense to you? Look more closely at how your super funds are invested, do you understand the investment option? You will most likely have a basic level of insurance in your super fund, so is this enough for your circumstances? If you have doubts about any of these questions, speak to a financial adviser or call your super fund to ask further questions to ensure you are getting the most from your super.
Any financial advice in this article is general in nature and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions.