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How to make over your finances

It's important to review your financial situation regularly, and by following these simple tips you'll be able to assess where your hard-earned cash is going.

Get goal-oriented
Before making any changes to your finances, it's important that you figure out your financial goals and priorities. Starting off with smaller goals is far easier than looking at the big picture straight away. This can be as simple as clearing your credit card debt in six weeks instead of the usual 10 weeks. Successfully managing smaller goals will empower you to achieve bigger ones down the track. Think about where you'd like to be in two, five and ten years' time. Do you want to own your own home, retire early or save for an overseas holiday? By writing down your goals, it will be easier to hatch a plan and start working towards them.
Create a budget worth sticking to
Update your household budget by reviewing all expenses, including bills, groceries, school fees, entertainment and housing costs. The golden rule of thumb is to make sure you aren't spending more than you earn. If your budget doesn't allow you to live the life you want, cut back or look into how you can generate a larger income.
Trim credit card debt
If you over-worked your credit card during the silly season, now is the time to take control of your debt and get it back into shape. For those with more than one credit card, it may be worth consolidating debts into the card with the lowest interest rate. Once debt is cleared, try to limit your credit card transactions and use cash whenever possible.
Shape up on spending
Aim to be a money-wise spender this year and look for great deals. Shaping up on spending shouldn't be a means to rob you of everyday enjoyment, rather it should act as a way to distinguish between wants and needs and eliminate impulse buys. Do a stocktake of your wardrobe and build it with things you genuinely love and want to wear. Set aside one day a week to treat yourself to lunch and compensate by preparing meals for the rest of the week. With a little extra planning, you can still fund the things you enjoy without feeling guilty.
Become super fit
Are you getting the most out of your current superannuation set up? By taking the time to get on top of your super and looking at ways to consolidate funds, you can save thousands of dollars in the long run. Before making any changes, contact your financial advisor or fund manager to find out what your current benefits are and how this will change if you transfer your money to another fund. If your current fund provides you with insurance cover, find out what will happen to this cover when you transfer. By checking and comparing the levels of cover you can make sure that you aren't leaving anything behind.
Dianne Charman is an Authorised Representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd, ABN 89 051 208 327, AFS Licence No. 232706. Any advice given is general only and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, before acting on any advice, you should consult a financial planner to consider how appropriate the advice is to your objectives, financial situation and needs.
To find your nearest AMP financial planner visit www.amp.com.au/findaplanner.

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