If a difficult 2020 has left your finances looking a little worse for wear, the new year is the perfect opportunity to get back on track. Whether you’re saving for a specific goal, or just looking for a safety net, here’s how to set yourself up for success in 2021.
Set your financial goals
Whether you want to save your money for a home deposit, future holiday or have a little something extra for rainy days, having a clear goal is a great motivator. It gives you something to work towards and helps you maintain good financial habits.
Setting up a separate savings account is a great way to keep track of your savings and make sure they don’t get bundled up with your everyday expenses.
Track your spending
If you spent time working from home in 2020 you may have noticed all the money you’re saving on takeaway coffees, lunches, or shopping expeditions. Turns out those small, day-to-day purchases can really add up. Just three coffees a week can cost $500 a year.
With many people returning to offices in 2021 it’s easy to fall back into pre-COVID spending habits. And while we all deserve our little treats and indulgences, it’s useful to keep track of your spending.
There’s a range of tools available to help you keep on top of your finances, and the government’s MoneySmart website is a great place to start. It offers calculators and resources to better understand your finances and spending habits. There’s also plenty of (free) apps that can help you balance your budget. And if all else fails a simple pad and pen to balance income and expenses can work wonders.
Pay yourself first
Budgets are great. But if you want to build long-term wealth you need to start putting yourself first. Rather than setting aside whatever you have left at the end of the month, set up an account and make regular deposits on pay day.
An easy way to get started is salary sacrificing – which means you automatically pay some of your pre-tax income into your super. This is also known as a Concessional Contribution. Simply talk to your payroll person at work and let them know how much you’d like to salary sacrifice, they can take care of the rest. Salary sacrificing is a great way to build up your super, and it can have significant tax advantages.
Consolidate your debts
Before you start putting money aside or investing it, you should get rid of unnecessary debt. Credit cards are a notorious money pit, and paying them off can save you thousands in annual interest payments.
If you’re burdened by large debts and interest payments, consider rolling all your debts together or taking out a loan with a zero-interest period. That way you can focus on paying down the loan rather than meeting interest payments.
Get your super sorted
To see what kind of difference these changes can make to your balance check out our retirement calculator.
Speak to a financial planner
A financial planner can help you better understand your financial options and how to build long term wealth.
If you’re approaching the end of your working life they can help you transition to retirement, but even someone in the middle of their career can benefit from professional advice about their super, taxes, insurance and how to get the most out of their finances.