Women’s Agenda has added a new ‘Fin Hacks’ segment to its weekly podcast, bringing you the latest money stories and best tips to stay ahead. Thanks to Superhero for supporting this important endeavour.
At times it felt like we’d never get there but with Christmas and a (much-deserved) new year break on the horizon, it’s time to reflect and reset. But in between those summer cocktails, let’s also make some time for ourselves and some valuable life admin.
Below are twelve easy pointers on how to declutter your finances ahead of the new year in order to start your 2022 with a bang.
1 | Consolidate your super
This is the perfect time to review your superannuation and see whether your investments match your risk profile and your retirement plans.
Consolidating your super means moving your nest egg into one account, making it easier to manage and saving you heaps on fees. Fewer accounts also means less hassle!
Merging your super accounts into one is easy. All you have to do is jump online and complete a form with your preferred super fund. Alternatively you can log onto MyGov, go to your linked ATO account and transfer your super from there. If you’ve forgotten who your super is with, or think you may have lost some, the ATO can also help you to locate it.
2 | Check that your super fund is working for you
Make sure your super aligns with your values. Are you interested in climate action and renewable energy? There’s a fund for that. Do you simply want to have more control over where your super is invested? There are options out there for you too.
You also should make sure your fund is doing what’s right for you. Most provide ‘growth’, ‘balance’ or ‘conservative’ investment options – all of which present various risks and returns. Make sure that your investment option is suitable for your own circumstances, risk appetite and stage of life.
Is your money working for you? Look at your fund’s performance after fees. Make sure you’re not paying for services or insurance you don’t use or need! A little research now could make a big difference later. ‘Future you’ will thank you for it.
3 | Look into investing
If you’re a few decades away from retirement, you can probably tolerate a greater amount of risk. You may think about being more aggressive in your investment choices as you will have time to ride out short-term volatility. You can always gradually reduce risk in the years leading-up to retirement.
As the end of the year approaches, now is a good time to discuss with your adviser or tax professional about how best to invest your money. These simple conversations can help to bring you one step closer to financial freedom.
4 | Cancel subscriptions you don’t need
We all subscribe to platforms and then forget about them almost completely. If you haven’t taken a good look at your bank transactions recently, you could be wasting a lot of money on resources you don’t actually use. Take an hour to go through all your subscriptions and streaming services and bin the ones that aren’t getting any attention.
5 | Check you’re not getting ripped off by your electricity and gas provider
Getting overcharged for your gas and electricity happens more frequently than you think. Two-thirds of Australians are worried they’re being overcharged on energy bills!
Check that you’re not paying for what you’re not using. Your energy distributor can arrange for a meter reader to come to your place and run an assessment.
It also pays to take a bit of time to compare your bill with what other energy providers charge.
6 | Check your bank and credit card fees
Checking your bank and credit card statements isn’t the most exciting job in the world but it’s well worth the effort.
You might be with an account that doesn’t serve your unique needs or that charges extra fees you didn’t expect. You might even be overdrawing your account without knowing it, and getting charged large sums of money all the while.
The solution is very simple. Check your statements on a regular basis and follow up with your bank if something doesn’t add up.
7 | Write a budget
It sounds basic but there’s a reason you see budgets recommended time and time again. It works.
Budgeting means you are more aware and therefore more careful with how much you spend and where you spend it, forcing you to be more accountable.
Keep it simple and choose a method of budgeting that suits you. If you’re like me, and have things mostly on your phone, you’re spoilt for choice with the number of budgeting platforms and apps available.
8 | Go digital
Are you still getting stacks of paper mail, bills and statements that pile up? Save yourself from opening boring mail (and save the environment!) by digitising whatever you can. That way all of your bank statements and financial activities are always at hand.
9 | Create a debt payment plan
There are plenty of debt repayment worksheets out there that are available for free. You can simply download some off the internet and come up with your own game plan.
Start by making a list of all your debts then rank them in order of priority. Focusing on one debt at a time, find ways to pay them off. Then concentrate on building up your savings buffer to avoid going backwards again. You’ll be on your way to financial freedom in no time!
10 | Combine your insurance policies
You might have insurance on your car, your house, the contents in your house and your pets. Why not make your life easier by combining your policies? While you’re at it you can even push your insurer to get a multi-policy discount for your loyalty.
11 | Automate your bills
Sign up for direct debit for phone bills, rent, childcare and other services. Not only does this make your life easier but it also means you won’t be hit with any nasty late fees if you forget to pay on time!
12 | Get rid of physical possessions you no longer need
Finally, this may seem unrelated, but by completing a big clean-out of all the things you no longer use or need (clothes, equipment, tools, garden supplies, cables, books) you’ll become more mindful of what you do spend your money on and what you really value.
Keeping a clean, clear space at home will also mean you have the headspace to keep your finances in check – into next year and beyond.
It’s never too late to start. For more tips on investing in your future, visit Superhero Australia today.