The sun is shining, the days are getting longer, flowers are in bloom, the department stores are having post Christmas sales… yes, 2018 is finally here! The Christmas and New Year holiday period is a great time for reflection on the year that has passed, but also a chance to plan the year to come. Most people will take the opportunity to do a bit of ‘spring cleaning’, getting to all those pesky once-or-twice-a-year jobs around the house. But right now is also a great time of year to review your finances.
Why now? Well, with the end of the last financial year and your tax return well behind you, you’ve got some great data to help you reset your goals and measure your progress by. You’ve also got the dawn of a new calendar year so hopefully you’ll be a little less pressed for time when you’re making some important decisions. It’ll also give you time to sustainably budget for bigger expenses in the new calendar year, from home improvements to holidays. Here’s how to get started.
Take a minute to sit down and review your budget. Make sure you have all the relevant information from your bank statements, tax notice of assessment, budgeting app, etc. In the last twelve months, have you stuck to your spending and saving guidelines? If not, what patterns can you see that you’ll want to ‘clear out’ of your spending habits for the coming year? This is your chance to develop a plan for avoiding wasteful spending. For example, if you notice that you’ve spent a lot on takeaway meal delivery, perhaps you could try planning a week of meals or signing up for that cooking class you’ve always wanted to take.
Just like you fix all those broken hinges, cracked tiles and split frames around the house, now’s a great time to fix your financial safety net – your insurance. The fact is, the various risks and liabilities in your life change all the time. Sometimes it’s a little more obvious, like welcoming a new baby, or moving house. But some of the risks you can insure against shift a little more subtly. For example, you may have made a few purchases that you should have included in your contents insurance, but didn’t add them individually at the time.
Herbs, fruits, veggies, flowers – all the best stuff is planted in spring for harvesting weeks or months down the track! While you’re in the ‘planning ahead’ mindset, have a think about your retirement income too. Chances are that by now, you’ll have received a statement from your super fund with the details of your contributions, returns, fees paid and more. Take this opportunity to review whether your super is on track according to your long term goals. Use the budget info you gathered earlier to see whether there’s room for you to make some extra contributions on a regular basis. If you do find that you’re on track, think about other ways to put your money to work for your financial future. For example, you may consider a type of investment that’s now right for your changed circumstances.
Working out whether you’re on track with your budget and goals is a great start. But when was the last time you thought about what those goals should look like? Everyone’s circumstances, desires and priorities change. It’s normal to not have the exact same financial goals from one year to the next. That’s why it’s a good idea to review your previous benchmarks, even if you don’t end up changing what you’re aiming for. Carve some time out of your schedule, sit down with your partner/family, and have a chat about your ideas of financial success or independence. Better still, make an appointment to come in and see us. We’ll help you get the fresh perspective you need for the coming year and beyond.
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