After a long, cold winter, spring has finally sprung. Hoorah!
With temperatures on the rise (or soon to rise), it’s about time to throw off your winter scarf, and start sprucing up your finances.
Here are 10 practical tips to shimmy your way into spring.
1. Review your budget
First question: do you have a budget?
“If not, spring is a perfect time to sit down and write one,” says Sarah Rogers, a financial planner with PY Financial Services. “To get ahead you need to know where your money is going.
“If you do have a budget, there might be expenses that have changed so update your budget.”
Ms Rogers recommends saving at least 15 per cent.
2. Sort out your super
Don’t forget, super’s real money – and you might need some of that when you’re old and grey.
“You have nine per cent of your wage going into it every pay and that percentage is only going to increase so wouldn’t you like to know where your money is going?” says Ms Rogers.
Consolidation is key. First check your balances and whether your existing funds include insurance to find the best fit.
Search for lost super here.
3. Make that tax appointment
Personally, I love getting my tax done. It leaves me feeling kind of cleansed – like a proper adult who has one’s life in order. And if you manage to nab a return, it’s like winning the lotto.
Likewise, if you know you’re going to have to pay the taxman, it’s good to find out what you’re up for so you know what you’re dealing with.
4. Do something about your credit card interest
Ignoring your credit card interest doesn’t make it go away. Quite the opposite.
“If you have somehow let your debt get away from you over winter, now is a great time to look at it,” says Ms Rogers.
“Consider rolling credit cards over to a credit card with an interest-free period to pay off debt faster. Remember, once the card is rolled over, cancel your existing credit cards and if possible do not activate your new card.”
5. Shed your winter debt
Having looked your debt in the face, put a strategy in place to pay it off.
“Unless it is debt for an investment, it is bad debt,” says Ms Rogers.
6. Check your insurances
Spring’s a great time to compare personal insurances such as life, total permanent disability and income protection, and others such as your car, house and contents insurance.
“As your life changes your insurance needs change, and what worked for you last year might not be the same (as this year),” says Ms Rogers.
Shop around for those you plan to keep.
7. Minimise your mortgage
If you get paid fortnightly, but your mortgage repayments are coming out monthly, contact your bank.
“Doing something really simple like lining up your mortgage repayments to when you get paid can save you a massive amount of interest,” says Mary Campbell, owner of Gold Leaf Financial Services.
8. Where’s your money really going?
9. Make a concrete savings plan
An online savings account is a solid bet because it’s separate to your everyday account and usually comes with a better interest rate, says Ms Campbell.
“It’s out of sight, out of mind, so you’re less likely to spend it.”
If you have various goals, set up a free online savings account for each, and have money transferred automatically after each payday.
10. Get free advice
If you need advice on something specific – paying off your mortgage faster, for instance – dip into the government’s comprehensive MoneySmart website.
“It’s a great resource that’s really credible and really commonsense, and no one’s trying to sell you anything,” says Ms Campbell.