Simple ways to manage your money better and move yourself forward
Money tips for any age
Whether you’re young, thinking about retiring, or enjoying the life of leisure, it’s never too early or late to start making the most of your money.
A good way to start is to think about your short-term and longer-term goals. These could be anything from a holiday or new car, to paying off your credits cards, speeding up mortgage payments, adding to your super or buying a holiday home.
To effectively manage your money, you’ll need to know what your income and expenses are.
Income is generally pretty easy to calculate from wage slips and bank statements. Personal expenses however are often more difficult to predict. Things to calculate include:
- Household bills: electricity, water, gas
- Residential expenses: rent, or mortgage repayments, body corporate fees, council rates
- Communications expenses: mobile phones, internet, extra data
- Insurance: health, car, home & contents, income protection etc
- Living expenses: food, petrol, transport, clothing, weekly shopping
- Entertainment: movies, theatre, cable tv, events
- Recreation activities: sports fees, club memberships, classes, consumables
- Medical expenses
- Travel and holiday expenses
- Transport: car, fuel, car registration, licence fees
There are tools to help with this – apps that allow you to record every $ you spend on your phone.
For many people, the total weekly expenses come as a bit of a surprise.
But once you know what your expenses are, and what you can afford on your income, it’s easier to budget, and to know what you can put away each week to help you reach your goals.
Manage your debts
It’s important to work out what money you owe. Some debts, such as a mortgage, are not necessarily bad if they’re working in your favour and providing a potential for growth that exceeds the interest and fees you’re paying.
Other debts, such as credit cards are not so good. They often have high interest rates, annual fees, penalties for late payment and are often used to buy goods and services that don’t increase in value.
Therefore, try to pay off your credit card and store cards as soon as possible.
If you’re worried about your level of debt, or you need help to repay money owing, there are organisations that can help you set up a program, and even negotiate with companies to set up a repayment plan.
Superannuation is part of the solution
Your super is your money. Just because you might not be able to access it until you retire, it doesn’t mean you should just ignore it. You should learn where your super is and how it’s invested by your super fund.
Many Australian adults have more than one super account – often some they don’t even know about. That’s why it’s important to find any lost super you may have.
It also generally makes sense to consolidate your super into one account. That way you can avoid paying two or more sets of fees and charges.
As well as choosing which fund your super is invested with, it’s wise to know how it’s invested, and that it matches your retirement goals.
Some people prefer a conservative approach with minimal risk, while others want to see their nest egg grow more quickly, even if that involves a higher risk. Of course, in most cases, it’s possible to split your super investments over a number of options. You can find more information on your Industry SuperFund’s website.
Here are some more tips for boosting your super.
If you find you have extra funds on hand, it’s often a good idea to invest them. There are many different options for investment, ranging from opening a term deposit at a bank to investing in shares, property or bonds and even topping up your super.
Recheck your insurance
As our lives change – from starting our first job, to starting a family or enjoying an empty nest – the people who rely on us change as well. That’s why it’s good to regularly check the insurance cover of your:
- Home and contents
- Income protection
- TPD (Total & Permanent Disability) or Life
The insurance you originally signed up for, and possibly just roll-over each year, may no longer suit your needs. You may be paying for things you no longer need, or alternatively, you may be underinsured, which can be even worse.
While most Australians have health and car insurance, many do not have adequate home and contents insurance – and even fewer have adequate income protection insurance or death and TPD insurance.
Industry SuperFunds offer Income Protection, TPD and Life insurance at competitive rates. See more information in our Insurance section.
By putting a little bit away each week, it’s surprising how much you can accumulate over the course of a year – especially when you have a specific goal in mind.
Look at your expenses above and try to work out where you can make savings:
- Do you spend too much on take-away food?
- Can you cut back on one or two coffees from the local café each week?
- Is it possible to ride to work or car pool instead of driving?
- Can you get a better deal on your car insurance or your power bills?
- Is your superannuation all over the place?
- Do you have a credit card debt that’s more than a month old?
- Is your money in the best bank account for your needs?
These are all questions you can ask, that could help you save a little bit now, and enjoy a lot more later on.
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