How to get on top of your finances this year.

You have packed away the Christmas tree and now it’s time to think about where you are headed financially for 2020.

If, like many at this time of year, you have little or no savings, a credit card debt and no idea where your money is going, read more about how you can get back on track in 2020.

Susan Franks, (pictured below) is Senior Tax Advocate from Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Susan says January is a great time for setting new financial goals and starting healthy money habits.

“As we take time to assess the year gone by and think about new years’ resolutions, finances shouldn’t be left out, in fact they can be vital to setting yourself up for a great year.”

Susan’s top five tips for improving your financial health in 2020:

1. Set goals and make a budget

Susan says financial goals should be realistic – big enough to get excited about but small enough to be achievable.

“That might be putting $50 away each pay or cutting up the credit card and paying $100 more off your balance each pay.”

Splitting up your financial goals into short-term and long-term is also a good idea according to Susan.

“Short-term goals are achievable within about 6 months to a year, and long-term is anything longer than a year.”

A good trick is to rename your bank account with your goal such as ‘Holiday’ said Susan.

“To inspire you and ensure you think twice before taking money.”

You can use the InfoChoice Budget Planner calculator to help you make a realistic budget for 2020.

2. Track what you spend

If you don’t track your spending, says Susan, you can’t get an accurate picture of your financial health.

“There are plenty of handy apps that you can use to help understand where your money is going, do this exercise over a month and the results will probably surprise you.”

“You will work out what is wasteful,” said Susan, “Look at money that is being spent on subscriptions you aren’t using, how much UberEats you have ordered and spending you can do without.”

3. Reduce debt

“The average Australian has around $3,000 owing on their credit card,” said Susan.

“Focusing on your smallest debts (and paying them off) can give you a sense of achievement and keep you motivated.

“Also focusing on paying off the debt with the highest interest rate or transferring that debt to a lower interest may also help you achieve your financial goals more quickly,” said Susan.

Use the InfoChoice Credit Card Repayment Calculator and the Personal Loan Calculator to help you work out what you can afford to repay.

4. Create a savings plan

The only way to save is to “automate, automate, automate” said Susan.

“That means setting up an automatic transfer, straight into your savings account.

“Before you have a chance to think about what you can spend the money on, it’s been put away.”

You can use the InfoChoice Savings Calculator to help you work out how much you can earn in interest and how you could make your money grow over time.

How much should you save from your income?

If you can afford to make salary sacrificed contributions to superannuation and have a very long-term savings goal or are saving for your first home, this may be worth exploring. From your pay packet each week or fortnight Susan said you could be aiming to save about 10 per cent.

“At the end of the day something is better than nothing, so look at your budget and see what is workable but aspire to 10 -15 per cent.”

5. Become a little more financially literate

“I don’t mean become an expert on the stock market,” said Susan Franks, “But you should know the interest rate on your home loan and credit card if you have either.”

“You should also know when your large expenses such as insurance and car registration are due so that you can set aside money.”

“It also pays to learn a little more about superannuation,” said Susan.

“Information is power. Get the information, write your goals down, be accountable and stick with it.”

You can compare savings accounts, credit cards, personal loans for debt consolidation and other financial products at InfoChoice, Australia’s leading financial comparison website.

This article is not financial advice.

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InfoChoice compares financial products from 145 banks, credit unions and other financial institutions in Australia. InfoChoice does not compare every product in the market. Some institutions may have a commercial partnership with InfoChoice. Rates are provided by partners and taken from financial institutions websites. We believe all information to be accurate on the date published. InfoChoice strives to update and keep information as accurate as possible.

The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. Do not interpret the listing order as an endorsement or recommendation from us.  You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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