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5 simple tips for being money smart in 2018

Tips for being money smart

This is a guest article from Jenny Cecil from Lifeline WA. P&N Bank supports Lifeline WA through our We Champion Program.

Jenny Cecil from LifelineResolutions don’t have to be restricted to the New Year. The start of a new year signifies an opportunity to reflect on the previous 12 months, assess our successes and failures and make a conscious decision to do better for ourselves in the year ahead. It is also an example of the universal desire to have control over our future situation.

An uncertain future can be scary, and setting a resolution can be a way of structuring the year ahead, putting our minds at ease. Lifeline WA financial counsellor, Jenny Cecil, says the present is always the perfect time to make a resolution or commitment to being smarter with our finances. Here, Jenny lists five simple tips on being money smart in 2018.

List your debts to know where you stand

Finding out and listing how much you owe and to whom, is a vital first step. If you have more than one debt, it can help you prioritise which you pay off first, and determine how much you spend and save.

Important information:

  • You can access your credit file for free here. Your credit file allows you to see what banks and lenders see when you are applying for a loan.
  • Consider prioritising debts with higher interest, or paying off smaller debts first to feel a sense of achievement.
  • If you have credit card debt, remember to close each account once you’ve paid it off to avoid future costs.

Make a budget

The term ‘budget’ scares a lot of people, implying restricted spending; however, it can also mean the opposite. Allocating how much you spend and where, is a great way to ensure you aren’t overspending on unnecessary items, leaving more to save and spend on what you care about.

Important information

  • Once you have a budget, track your expenses. You may need to alter your budget to account for unplanned changes.
  • The Australian Government’s Money Smart calculator and budget planner are easy to use tools to help with finances. You can access them here.

Save!

This seems like an obvious one, but factor your planned savings into your budget. Be realistic about how much you can afford to put into savings.

Important information

  • Set a goal on what you want to save for to stay motivated. Do you have a holiday coming up? Or maybe you want to put a down payment on a car or house?
  • Be sure you have a specific savings account set up. Keeping all your money in one account makes it far too easy to spend, rather than save.

Be savvy to sales pitch techniques

Persuasive sales techniques can be tricky to avoid, even on a strict budget. Things like limited time offers can easily lead people astray, and reduce the amount of time spent researching the product.

Important information

  • Remember the bottom line; a sales person wants to make a sale. Look after yourself and your finances first.
  • Don’t rely purely on sales information. Do your own research.
  • Don’t let pushy sales people force you into buying. Be polite but firm, and take time to think.

Get help if you need it

It’s important to know that free, specialised financial counselling is available. Services, such as Lifeline WA’s financial counselling service, provide assistance and information to help deal with financial hardship including:

  • Tailoring a sustainable budget
  • Information about government assistance and entitlements
  • Negotiating outstanding bills
  • Debt negotiation and/or consolidation, and
  • Information on bankruptcy and consumer credit issues.

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