YOUR credit card bill is bloated, your savings need a shot of adrenalin and your debts could benefit from a colonic irrigation session. It’s not just your body that can benefit from a new year’s resolution of adopting healthy habits. Your finances deserve a detox too.
So how should you go about getting your 2015 finances fit?
Here’s a checklist.
SET FINANCIAL GOALS
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s MoneySmart’s senior executive leader Miles Larbey urges Australians to make 2015 the a stellar year for their personal finances.
“Whatever your age, income or circumstances you can make this the best year for your finances if you take charge of your money and make a financial plan and keep track of your progress.’’
Mr Larbey suggested setting goals, whether it’s to save for a holiday or something bigger and share the goal with family and friends to help keep you on track. Create separate bank accounts and organise automatic direct debits from your pay to ensure the money is put aside without any temptation to spend it.
Comparison site Mozo’s spokeswoman Kirsty Lamont urges Australians to look back through previous bank statements to see where their money is going and devise ways to trim their spending.
“Work out where you’re wasting your money and where you can reasonably cut back on some expenses to free up some extra cash for yourself in 2015,’’ she said.
“Once you go through your bank statements you’ll easily be able to work out patterns on where you are wasting money.’’
Cut the debt that has the highest interest rates first — credit card debts are often the worst with some cards having rates north of 20 per cent, followed by personal loans which are often more than 10 per cent.
Australians owe almost $50 billion on credit cards, and MoneySmart figures show a card debt of $2000 could take more than 12 years to pay off and cost about $2150 in interest if the customer only pays the minimum amount.
SLASH YOUR MORTGAGE
Australians are more than two years’ ahead of their mortgage repayments and there’s more opportunity to shed extra fat off mortgages in 2015.
The cash rate has remained dormant since August 2013 at 2.5 per cent and experts believe if it does move in any direction this year it will be down even more. This is great news for borrowers but not so good for savers.
Maximising this low rate environment is key to help fatten the buffers on home loan repayments and to help cope with inevitable rises in years to come. Make hay while the sun shines.
Figures from comparison site Mozo show on a $300,000 30-year home loan the average standard variable rate is 5.21 per cent and the monthly repayments is $1649.
On the same loan the average three-year fixed rate is 4.87 per cent and the monthly repayments is $1587.
The Association of Superannuation Fund of Australia’s chief executive officer Pauline Vamos said detoxing your super savings is critical.
“The more super you save, the better your lifestyle will be in retirement and making small changes can add a big boost to your savings,’’ she said.
“The best way to detox your super is to get rid of things you do not need. If you have multiple super accounts then think about consolidating them into one so that you don’t end up paying multiple sets of fees.”
She also suggests checking you have the right type of insurance cover within your fund.
Ms Vamos said by cutting out one coffee per day and putting the savings into your super you could end up with an incredible extra $120,000 at retirement. Do you really need that caffeine shot?
Whether it be health, car, home and contents of life insurance, the start of the year is always a good time to review your policies.
Otherwise mark in your diary when the policies are due for renewal and use comparison sites to shop around and see if you can nab a more competitive deal.
If your situation is feeling more longer term, an Informal arrangement or Debt Agreement option may be a better solution for you. Call us on 1300 887 211 or Book a Free No Obligation Phone Consultation with our friendly team and we can discuss debt management options specially focused on your personal situation.