By Jo & Carl Violeta
As busy parents, it’s hard to keep track of dates and plan for the future when we’re dealing with the day-to-day realities of looking after kids, balancing our budget, paying the mortgage, and trying to make ends meet.
With a new financial year around the corner, it is a great time to hit pause, grab a cuppa, and revisit your finances.
Here are five things to look at that might help you save money and achieve your money goals in the next financial year.
Redefine your money goals
Review your money goals from the previous financial year and reassess your priorities for the year ahead.
Make sure your money goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
For example: “I want to put aside $10,000 into my savings account by the end of the next financial year so that I can buy a new car without debt.”
A savings goal is just one example of a financial goal. Others might include:
- Building your financial knowledge
- Buying a home
- Building your superannuation
- Starting to invest
- Paying off debt
Review your budget
Download your last three months of bank statements (take a deep breath) and go through them line by line to understand where your money is going.
Create a budget to track income and expenses. Ideally, you should be earning more than you spend so you can use the surplus to build your savings or to pay down debt.
Need to reduce expenses? Perhaps you can cull a streaming service or eat at home an extra night per week.
There might be a cheaper deal for your utilities or health insurance (if you have it). Find out what deals are on offer on some comparison websites. Then call your providers and tell them you’re shopping around; they may offer you a better deal to keep your business.
Review and (potentially) refinance your home loan
If you own your home, it’s smart to review your mortgage every 6-12 months to make sure you’re still getting the right deal for your circumstances.
Refinancing your mortgage to a lower interest rate could save hundreds of dollars on your repayments every month.
Be mindful of exit fees and penalties though, and check that the new mortgage has all the features you want and need (such as the option to make extra repayments).
You could also try negotiating with your current lender directly. Call them, let them know you’re shopping around, and ask for a better rate.
Review your super
Set a retirement savings goal. Most people need about two-thirds of their current income per year to maintain their lifestyle. Then create a plan to start growing your account.
Use the myGov app to find out if you have any ‘lost super’ that the Australian Tax Office is holding. Then authorise your current superannuation fund to conduct a search on your behalf using ‘SuperMatch’.
If you have multiple super funds, consolidating them makes it easier to track your super and means you’re only paying one set of fees.
Finally, consider paying a portion of your savings into your super account. Talk to your accountant about ‘contributing extra to super’. With this option, your employer deducts extra money from your pre-tax pay and pays it into your super account.
Improve your credit score
If you’re looking at borrowing money, getting a home loan, or refinancing your mortgage, you might want a good credit score.
Your credit score is a number that represents your money borrowing reputation. The higher the score, the more trustworthy a borrower you’re considered to be.
A poor credit score could prove a challenge when applying for financing.
ASIC’s MoneySmart website lists reputable services where you can find out your credit score for free.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic fix to instantly improve your credit score. However, these strategies may help:
- Pay credit cards and bills on time
- Try paying off any debt that has gone to collections
- Lower your credit card limits
- Limit the number of credit enquiries you make (the number of loans you apply for)
Start the new financial year strong
These five actions can help you know exactly what’s coming in, where it will be spent, and what you’ll do with the rest (because there WILL be leftovers!) over the next financial year.
We’ve shared general information here to get you started, but we also recommend speaking with your financial planner, accountant, or mortgage broker (or all three), depending on your goals.
These finance professionals can offer personalised advice to help you refresh your finances and achieve your money goals in the new financial year.
Jo and Carl Violeta are self-confessed numbers nerds, parents of an energetic toddler and a super switched-on teenager, and co-founders of the award-winning business, Violeta Finance. They are a husband and wife team who are passionate about empowering their community with financial education, love the odd glass of wine, and get a kick out of helping families achieve their homeownership and financial dreams.