If your, or your loved ones finances could do with some fine-tuning, it’s worth taking part in MoneySmart Week. It runs next week, from 1-7 September 2014, and it’s a great chance to get your money back on track and start kicking some personal goals.
MoneySmart Week is an initiative of our investment regulator – the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). It’s designed to encourage all Australians to take simple steps to improve their money health.
This year MoneySmart Week features a number of focal points. First up is ditching debt – and yes, it can be done. A useful starting point is to list each amount you owe, ranking debts according to the interest rate you’re paying on each balance.
Aim to pay off debts with the highest rate first, by paying a bit extra each month. Once that debt is paid off, add those repayments to the next-highest rate debt. This strategy can fast-track your way to debt-free living, and minimise interest charges along the way.
Sorting your super is another MoneySmart Week target worth aiming for, and it’s surprisingly easy to achieve. Begin by tracking down any lost super using the online Super Seeker on the Tax Office website (www.ato.gov.au).
Next, roll multiple super balances into a single account. This will cut fees and let you keep track of your nest egg all the way to retirement.
To see if your super savings will be sufficient to fund a decent retirement, take a look at the superannuation calculator on the MoneySmart website (www.moneysmart.gov.au). You’ll also find plenty of simple hints and tips to grow your nest egg.
MoneySmart Week is also a good time to simply learn more about managing money, and there are some terrific tools for the job like the government’s free TrackMySpend app. It shows where your money is being spent, and that’s critical when it comes to regaining control of your cash.
Once you know where the money is going, use the online budget planner on the MoneySmart website to start planning your cash needs. That makes it a lot easier to avoid high interest debt like credit cards.
One area of money management that is often overlooked is personal protection – using insurance, and this is another area focused on. Most of us take a keen interest in insurance for our home and car, however without adequate life cover in place your family could be dangerously exposed to financial hardship. Use MoneySmart Week to review your cover to check that it’s adequate for your circumstances.
MoneySmart Week can also be a good time to set some financial goals to work towards. ASIC’s free TrackMyGoals app is handy for this, letting you set, plan and work towards multiple savings goals to help you grow personal wealth.
Even if you reckon your personal finances are in great shape, I still recommend having a look at the Money Health Check on the MoneySmart website. It costs nothing and only takes a few minutes and it will give you a good idea of how your finances currently stand. In my experience, there is almost always room for improvement.
For more information about MoneySmart Week visit moneysmartweek.org.au