Money: 4 questions you should never be embarrassed to ask

If you don't ask, you'll never know.
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When it comes to money, do you take a head-on or head-in-the-sand approach? If you answered the latter, you’re not alone.

Stats show that only 35 per cent of Australian women are financially literate, in contrast to half of all men. The percentages are shockingly low and prove that women aren’t actively taking the time to get themselves up to speed on money related issues.

To be fair, money can be an incredibly intimidating topic to discuss — especially when terms like household debt and interest gains get throw in the mix. But in order to become financially fit, you need to bite the bullet and ask the tricky questions.

To help you get your financial knowledge up to scratch, we’ve answered four of those too-embarrassed-to-ask questions for you. You’re welcome.

How financially literate are you? Take the quiz to see how much you know about your personal finances.

How do I ask for a pay rise at work?

Just the thought of asking for a pay rise is enough to make anyone fill with jitters, but approaching the subject with your boss shouldn’t be nerve wracking. Rather, it should be an empowering effort, as advocating for your worth is one of the most important things you can do in the work place.

If you’re feeling reluctant on how to ask for a pay rise, prepare the discussion to the best of your ability before calling a meeting with your boss.

Start by taking on more responsibility where you can — the more responsibility you take on, the more you will be viewed as a valued member of the team that deserves to be paid more.

You should also outline how you contribute to the team prior to calling a meeting — the more prepared you are, the better you will come across.

Don’t be afraid to pick a number and stick to it. Do your research and know your market value. From there, you will be able to negotiate a final figure.

How do I improve my credit card debt?

Debt is one of those things that nobody likes to talk about, despite the fact that most people have it. In fact, Australia has some of the highest debt in the world; with recent stats reporting that Australian’s owe $45 billion in credit card debt, alone! Even worse, most Australian’s are financially not able to pay that debt back.

While improving credit card debt may seem like an embarrassing thing to ask about, truth is, most people are struggling with it and it’s a topic that needs to be discussed more openly.

If you are struggling with your repayments, there are some simple methods that you can start applying to your finances in order to get on top of your repayments.

First, work out how many credit cards you have and how much debt you are owing on each. From here, figure out which cards require the smallest repayments and work towards paying these off first. The sooner you get on top of your smaller credit card debts, the quicker your credit rating will start to improve.

If you do owe a large amount on one credit card, remember that small contributions won’t have much of an impact on your credit score. Instead, try and develop a budget and start putting money aside for your credit card repayments. As this sum increases, deposit that amount into your credit card.

Top tip: Work in percentages. Once you do have your credit card repayments under control try to avoid using over 30 per cent of your credit card limit.

What does a realistic budget look like?

It’s one of the best ways to take control of your finances, yet creating a budget is something that many people struggle to do and commit to. The secret lies in setting up realistic budgeting goals and not throwing in the towel completely after little set-backs.

When outlining your finances, it’s important to first recognise whether you’re spending less or more than you can afford. This will enable you to direct your money to where it matters most — like your bills and home repayments — and evaluate where you can cut costs.

After allocating and prioritising your money flow, work out if you have extra dollars to spare. If you do, you can pop that into a high interest savings account, make extra super repayments or even look into investing.

If you’re spending more than you can afford, recheck your budget and analyse unnecessary costs that you can reduce. If you’re still struggling, don’t be afraid to contact a financial adviser for help and support.

There are also plenty of great online budget planners that can help you keep on top of your finances. You can organise a budget to what best suits you — be it weekly, fortnightly or monthly — and it can help you outline bank statements, bills and receipts. Here are our top picks:

Can I take money out of my super before I retire?

If you’ve always played by the rules — and been avidly contributing money to your super on a regular basis — you probably have a fairly hefty figure sitting in your superannuation account. You’ve probably also been tempted in financial times of strife to dip into that cash pool before your retirement.

While it may seem like an embarrassing question to ask, it’s a viable one. So, can you actually take money out of your super before you retire?

In most cases, the answer is no. Your super needs to stay locked away until your reach your preservation age — currently between 55 to 60, depending on when you were born.

However, under Australian law — provided that you meet strict eligibility conditions and your super fund allows it — you may be able to access your superannuation money if you are faces with severe financial hardship, have to pay for medical treatment or if you suffer permanent or temporary incapacity. If you do choose to access your super prior to turning 60, you may also have to pay tax on the payments you receive.

If you’re looking to sharpen your finance knowledge even further, be sure to check out Bauer’s Financially Fit Females hub.

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