July marks the start of a new financial year, and provides a timely reminder to start thinking about your goals (and potentially revisiting those resolutions you may have forgotten about from January 1).
The secret to sticking to your goals, and making this new financial year one of real achievement, is by making a few small, regular changes that will help you reap the benefits over time. So with this in mind, we’ve put together our top tips that will help you hit the ground running in getting the most out of your hard-earned cash their new financial year.
Time to plan
The new financial year presents a terrific opportunity to re-evaluate your goals and aspirations as they may have shifted over time. It’s helpful to take stock of where you are now and start making a plan to work towards where you want to be.
Don’t know where to begin? Start by calculating your net worth. Although daunting at first, this calculation is a useful starting point to see where you’re at financially, and to help you decide on some achievable goals. It’s also easy to do! Simply subtract your liabilities (what you owe e.g. mortgage, loans, credit cards etc.) from your assets (what you own e.g. home, super, savings etc.).
Assets – Liabilities = Your Net Worth
Once you’ve made this calculation, you can start writing down your financial goal(s) for the year. It might be to improve your net worth by a specific amount by this time next year, or to funnel money towards a specific debt so you can take a guilt-free holiday in 2020. Commit to it by marking a progress review in your calendar every three months.
Prepare a budget
Did you know that Australians’ biggest financial regret is not saving enough?i
Taking control of your money and income streams is the most effective tool there is to getting your finances under control. Many people think we need to earn more but often what we really need is to spend less. Understanding what you are currently spending your money on and making small changes to these habits can instantly improve your financial position.
To get started, add up how much you spend during an average month. Then check your net income, including any income from investments or interest earned. Subtract the amount you spend from your overall income. This is the amount you are left with to put towards clearing your debts or increasing your savings.
Net Income – Expenses = $$$ you can put towards savings or decreasing debt
If you’re not happy with the amount you are able to save, take a look at your spending and see if there are any areas where you could cut back. For budgeting to work, it needs to be sustainable. That generally means making smaller cutbacks and sacrifices over a longer time frame. If you failed the last time you tried to stick to a budget, it might’ve been because it was unrealistically strict for your lifestyle and needs.
Struggling to find the time to create a budget? With so many time-saving financial apps on the market, it’s worth taking a moment to track down the best tools for the job. Check out TrackMyGOALS and TrackMySPEND, two smart budgeting apps on the government’s MoneySmart website. They won’t just save you time – if you stick to the plan, they’ll save you money as well.
Are you up for the challenge?
If you’re feeling a little daring, you may like to challenge yourself to a ‘spending fast’. For one month you’ll purchase only essentials, putting all other income towards supplementing your savings or making a dent in your debt. Not only is it a fun challenge, it will teach you more about your spending habits (and why you may not be hitting those savings goals) than any spreadsheet can.
Make yourself accountable
As with any goal in life, you need to regularly review your progress. You may even need to review your goals in case they have shifted, and run over the steps you’re taking to achieve these goals (such as the basics above) to see if there are any areas you can still improve upon.
Reviewing your finances with a trusted person (whether a partner, family member, or a professional) can also help make you accountable and more likely to stick with your plan. When you share your goals with someone else, and commit to reporting back to them on your progress, it can really motivate you to keep going and help turn your new saving and spending regime into a habit.
Don’t forget to work in some ‘rewards’ when you meet certain goals and targets!
Sometimes all we need is a little push to do the things we’ve been putting off, and June 30 presents the perfect opportunity to make some new financial year resolutions. Once you’ve decided what your goals are for the new financial year, the next step is turning those dreams into reality. So start making those small changes now that will make a big difference later. It might just be something worth celebrating.
If you ever need any help putting your plans into action, we’re always here to help! You can get in touch with us on 1300 850 757 or at GBSAU_Admin@ajg.com.au.
i Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA), 2017, Live the Dream report. Retrieved from http://www.moneyandlife.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/FPA-Live-the-Dream-2017-Research-Report-FINAL.pdf
The information and any advice in this article does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. When considering whether to acquire a financial product, before making any decision, you should obtain the relevant product disclosure statement.