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Essential New Year Financial Health Check

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Owning Your Own Home

After getting fit, saving more and spending less is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions in Australia.

When you join a gym, your first session with a PT may be a health check, where you assess where your current fitness is and then put together a plan to get you where you want to be.

If you’re determined to be better with money this year, it can be a good idea to do the same. Our tips on how to conduct a personal audit on your finances will help make sure you know exactly where you stand, before helping you make a realistic new plan that you can stick to.

1. Check your credit report

Your credit score, or credit rating, is often used by lenders to determine how financially reliable you are.

Checking your current credit rating can be a good way to get an independent assessment of the shape you’re in financially and highlight your habits when it comes to paying back debts in full or on time.

Knowing your credit score will also be useful if you decide to consolidate debts or take out new credit cards. Your credit report provides information about your credit history, including credit defaults, credit applications and debt agreements (such as bankruptcy). Australians are entitled to a free credit check once every 12 months - you can find out how to claim yours on the ASIC Moneysmart website.

2. Consider reviewing your super

It's estimated that there is around $16bn of 'unclaimed super' in Australia. While this used to sit with super providers, with fees often eating into the balance, in July 2019 new legislation came into force requiring super providers to transfer certain inactive low-balance accounts to the ATO.

If you think you may have some super waiting to be claimed, you can search for it through your MyGov portal or on the ATO website. .

3. Consider reviewing and reducing your debts

If you have high levels of debt from credit cards or personal loans, it can be a good idea to consolidate your debts into one loan. A single payment can make it easier to manage and can reduce the amount you are paying if you can find a loan with a lower interest rate than your current debts.

Qudos Bank has a great range of personal loans with competitive interest rates, which you can check out here.

4. Check your current spending level

It might not seem like you’re spending a lot of money on your daily flat white, or a quick drink after work, but these costs can add up over the course of a year without you noticing.

Get a handle on your spending habits by conducting a review of the last three months of your bank statements and grouping the expenses into themes. For instance, for ‘entertainment’, you would list any subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify), trips to the cinema, gigs, Friday night drinks and anything else you do that for fun. You can then itemise each expense, down to the last dollar and cent, to build up a true picture of the situation. You can then do the same with all of your other expenses - other categories you could use include utilities, transport, food, housing, health, debt repayments and of course saving.

Once you have your total for each category, it can be useful to see what percentage each category makes up of your total spend.

5. Create a budget you can stick to

Once you’ve reviewed your current situation, the next step of your health check might be to budget for the forthcoming year.

The key here is putting a framework in place that you will actually follow - if it’s too restrictive or difficult to manage, it’s unlikely that you will stick to it. As the saying goes ‘imperfect actions are better than perfect plans’, so set yourself realistic targets and then keep checking in on them throughout the year to make sure you are on track. Good luck!

  Disclaimer:

Qudos Mutual Limited trading as Qudos Bank ABN 53 087 650 557 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 238 305. The information in this article is of a general nature and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.

Loans are subject to approval. Terms and conditions, normal lending criteria and fees and charges apply. Terms and conditions available on request.

Rates current as at 15 October 2019.

Article published January 2020