10 Top Money Fixes for 2012
If the only money-based resolution you make this year is to follow these tips from finance expert Justine Davies, you will already be hundreds of dollars better off!
- Do a written budget. Yes we all know that we need one – but few of us actually sit down and do it! Having a written budget is invaluable because it tells you how much money is coming in, how much is going out and, most importantly, where it is being spent.
- Have a good filing system for tax. It doesn’t matter whether you keep it in a shoebox, a folder or an old handbag, but keeping the paperwork for everything and anything that you might possibly be able to claim as a deduction on your tax return can save you significant dollars.
- Have a good filing system for your bills. We waste a lot of money in overdue fees when we forget to pay our bills on time. Having a central place to file them (in due-date order) can avoid “forgetfulness” and save you some serious cash.
- Keep an eye on your grocery bill. We spend, on average, 12% of our income on groceries, which is a huge amount. That’s just what we buy; we also waste around $5 billion worth of food each year! The easiest way to save on groceries is to have a weekly menu and a shopping list. It helps avoid both wastage and impulse buys.
- Review your car insurance. Sometimes you can make the biggest savings from those “set and forget” costs. A 2011 CHOICE report found that young drivers could save up to $980 per year on the cost of their car insurance by shopping around. And technology means that it’s easy to do! Jump online and try comparison sites such as CANSTAR.com.au to find a good-value policy.
- Review your health insurance. Ditto with health insurance; there are hundreds of dollars in savings to be made by shopping around. Try the government’s privatehealth website (privatehealth.gov.au) as a good place to get started.
- Work out how much your mortgage is costing you. A $350,000 mortgage on average rates can cost you over half a million in interest payments alone over the life of the loan. Ouch! But just a modest increase in payment or decrease in interest rate can mean tens of thousands of dollars in savings and with the government introducing new mortgage comparison fact sheets this January, it’s never been easier to shop around.
- Read your superannuation statement. Only 20% of workers take an interest in where their superannuation is invested. But for a 25-year old on average income, a 1% per annum difference in return could make $50,000 difference to their nest egg. That’s a fantastic round-the-world holiday!
- Pay off your credit cards. We owe around fifty billion dollars on credit cards at the moment, and three-quarters of that accrues interest, which is a nice little earner for the banks. It’s also a big drain on your monthly cash flow so work out how much you owe, divide it by 12 and try to start making regular payments to get rid of it! If you can’t get them paid off quickly then shop around for a lower interest rate card – that alone could save you hundreds of dollars each year.
- Get your partner on board. There is no point in you working your butt off to reduce your costs if your partner doesn’t help you. So put aside an hour to sit down together to work out a financial plan that you both agree to, going forward. (Note: a nice bottle of wine can help this process!)
Justine Davies is a financial planner, journalist, blogger and author who loves educating people about money. Her latest book, Money For Nothing (RRP $24.95), is published by Wrightbooks and is out this month.