The start of a new financial year is always a good opportunity to look at what has been working for you and what could use some fine tuning. During these challenging times, getting better organised can help give you a greater sense of control over your finances.
The first step to staying on track in uncertain times is to understand the current state of your finances. Take some time to review your total income from all sources against your ongoing expenses and adjust your budget as needed. Think about your goals for the year ahead, remembering that financial goals aren’t static and are likely to change year-on-year. You may need to reassess and adjust your goals and priorities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moneysmart.gov.au offers good free information on investments, planning, budgeting and saving that can help if your circumstances have recently changed. You may need to think about how to reprioritise paying your bills if money is tight.
Get on top of your taxes
Get your taxes done sooner rather than later so that you have a full picture of the year that was. Plus, you may be in line for a refund that you could put towards something you need to get organised for the year ahead, such as new furniture or technology for your home office. COVID-19 may have changed how you do your taxes this year. Find more information on COVID-19 and Your Taxes.
Streamline your record keeping
There’s nothing like organising your paperwork for tax time to reveal whether or not you have an effective record-keeping system. If not, set up one now that you can easily stick to each month. Remember that the best system for you is the one that you will actually use, not necessarily the most complicated one. This could mean creating a spreadsheet in which to record and add up your deductions. Or, you could download one of the many apps available that let you store and scan receipts electronically and track your spending.
Assess the state of your super
Given that your super is your primary source of savings for a comfortable retirement, it’s important to review it annually to make sure it’s setting you up properly for the future. Are you comfortable with where your superannuation is at for your age and plans in retirement? Try an online superannuation calculator if you need help figuring this out. If not, could you be sacrificing more from your salary or making extra contributions if you are self-employed? Remember that super payments from your pre-tax salary reduce your assessable income, meaning that you pay less tax.
Investing in a Financial Advisor can be a good way to get objective advice and accountability, depending upon your individual circumstances, and there are free or low-cost options available too. The Australian government offers free financial information service (FIS) seminars across the country that can help you better understand your finances. Free and confidential financial counselling services are also available through the National Debt Helpline and other community organisations if you are struggling.
Boost your credit score
Your credit score is a key part of your financial health. If you haven’t reviewed yours lately, now is a good time to get a free copy of your credit scoret and see where things are at. From getting on top of your debt to understanding the difference between positive vs negative credit behaviours, there are many steps you can take to improve your credit score and prevent any long-term issues.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstance before acting on it, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a finance professional such as an adviser.