Start 2016 on the right foot
General Advice Warning: Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.
Around half of us make New Year’s resolutions – but only around 12% manage to succeed. With getting out of debt and sorting out our finances high on the wish list each year, here are three tips to help you keep your resolution and make 2016 a financial success.
Step 1: Clean up the past
The average Australian owes $4,300 on their card. If you’re one of them, and only paying off the minimum each month, this could take you more than 30 years to pay off, and cost you around $10,200 in interest.
To start the year on a clean slate, sort out a system to pay off your credit card debt. You may want to consider consolidating them under a personal loan, or transferring the balance to a lower rate card. But remember, these strategies only work if you don’t run up more debt – so be sure to exercise discipline with your card in the future (even if it means keeping them under the mattress for emergencies only).
Step 2: Set yourself up for success
Once you’ve dealt with the past, get the present organised.
A budget is a good idea – but before you create one, have a look at your short and long term goals. How much money do you need to achieve them? Once you’ve worked that out, you can revamp your budget, based on what you want.
And while you’re getting your budget in order, sort out your paperwork too. If it’s cluttering up your desk and hard to find when you need it, go digital. Set up templates for your budget or download one of the many budget apps that are available. Scan your receipts so they’re ready for tax time. And ask your bank and super fund to send your statements electronically from now on.
Step 3: Plan for the future
You’ve probably got some super saved – but will it be enough for the retirement lifestyle you want? If you’re not sure, it’s time to find out.
An online calculator can help you work out what you need and if you’re on track to get there. If you’re not, now’s the time to consider setting up salary sacrifice or look at other ways to boost your super. For example, if you’re approaching retirement, a Transition To Retirement (TTR) strategy may be an ideal way to boost your super savings.
As well as building wealth, make sure you protect what you have for you and your family, with income protection, trauma insurance and TPD and life insurance. Make sure that you have enough cover too, so that if things go wrong, your lifestyle will be protected.
Get expert advice
Now it’s all in place, schedule a little time throughout the year to make sure things are up to date. Keep track of your goals throughout the year and be prepared to tweak your budget as things change.
And remember – if you need a helping hand with these steps, or any other financial need, we can help you keep your resolutions, and keep your finances on track.
 Dr Anthony M Grant, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, 2010
 ASIC MoneySmart (2015) Credit Card Debt Clock
 ASIC MoneySmart Credit Card Calculator. Based on interest rate of 18% pa.