8 decisions you should be making about your finances right now

The Weekly’s top tips for managing your money smartly.

Personal finances can be a touchy topic and something you usually avoid discussing with colleagues or friends, but realistically managing your bank account(s) shouldn’t be something that brings you out in a cold sweat. If it does, some simple money maintenance could be all you need to get your financial confidence back again. Here are our top tips for eliminating your money worries so you feel in control of your finances.
1. Start saving (if you’re not already)
In theory, everyone should be contributing to a savings account. You may be doing so already – in which case, great, but ask yourself can you afford to save even more? A quick calculation on how much you spend on coffee each week will probably soon shock you into saving more! Even if you can only spare $50 a month, it’s a great start and you’ll get some return investment on your money by adding it to a reward or incentive account. Plus, like chocolate, saving is addictive. The more you see your money grow, the more you’ll probably want to contribute.
2. List your future aspirations
A big task, yes, but it will help your financial future tenfold. Would you like to have children? Travel the world? Own multiple homes? Reach a savings goal? By writing down a list of five things you’d like to achieve in the next five years, you’ll automatically start thinking about how much money you’ll likely need to achieve your dreams. It will help you think about your financial goals and how much you are willing to budget.
3. Think about the company you work for
Retirement benefits don’t tend to be an important factor when accepting a job, but if you think about it, it’s one of the main things you should consider before agreeing on any new offers. Retirement benefits are vital to your future wealth-building and will help give you security if you can’t quite save as much as you’d like. You should always make sure your company offers your super on top of your salary package, too. This way it’s not coming out of your wages.
4. Be mindful about sharing everything
Joint accounts are often part and parcel of being in a couple, but it’s important to still have some sort of financial independence. New Westpac research shows that two in five women have no access to private funds, leaving them financially vulnerable. It’s also a sad fact that 91 per cent of women would experience some form of financial strain on their family if they were to separate. You don’t have to scrap the joint account altogether, but consider a personal savings account – a guilt-free shoe fund – or make additional top ups to your super.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Feeling overwhelmed by your own money situation? You’re not alone. And you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it. In fact, there are online sites out there, such as Ruby Connection, that are specifically aimed at helping women feel empowered when it comes to finances. They’re packed with heaps of tips, ideas and female-specific scenarios that could help you understand your financial situation and how to manage it better.
6. Embrace credit cards
When used properly, credit can offer plenty of rewards worth taking advantage of. They’re essentially the fastest way to borrow money, making them a great back-up, particularly during busy times like Christmas or holiday season. That is, of course, if you can trust yourself to pay off any debts on time, as, late payment fees are notoriously steep. If you’re responsible with your credit cards though, you can actually gain more than you spend thanks to incentive perks such as bonus air miles. Plus, they’re a great way to track and understand your lending pattern, a vital tool on the road to financial stability.
7. Learn how to invest
Even if you’re not in the position to invest right now, knowing the difference between fixed and variable interest investment and shares is never a bad thing. Head into your local bank and ask them for a quick crash course on investing basics. Some banks also hold webinars around specific investments, such as property investment, which are a great resource if you’ve decided to go down that avenue, too.
8. Track your spending
Making a conscious decision to analyse every single thing you buy can be daunting, but the result will likely be fewer frivolous buys and more considered spending. Create a spending diary (or use a money tracking app like Dollarbird) and record all of your daily purchases for two weeks. You’ll soon be able to identify areas where you could cut costs and save.
Brought to you by Westpac’s Ruby Connection

read more from