It is now a quarter of the way through the year and while you are probably looking forward to a well earned break this Easter, try to find a few minutes to check back in on your finances.
You may feel like you have been running around non-stop since the New Year and haven't had a chance to check up on your finances since last year. With four extra days up your sleeve this long weekend, see if you can find some time to sit down, look at your expenses, savings and budget and work out whether you are on track or if you need to set a plan to improve your finances for the rest of the year.
So whether you want to pay off credit cards, pay off your mortgage or save for a holiday, what can you do to boost motivation and get back on track?
If you feel like you have been putting in an effort this year to reach your financial goals but are still not seeing the results you want, you may need to revisit your strategy and look at why you are not achieving your goals.
Pay special attention to your small, regular expenses as they could be bringing you down. Take a look at the expenses below to see how much they could be costing you each year:
- Coffee before work ($5 every work day): $100 a month
- Takeaway lunch at work ($10 every work day): $200 a month
- ATM fees ($2.50 twice a week): $20 a month
It may not seem like much, but just these three expenses will cost you an extra $3,840 a year.
Setting one big goal, such as paying off all credit cards, can seem a bit overwhelming and may make the goal harder to achieve. However, if you set a smaller goal every couple of months to pay off one credit card at a time, it may make your goals for the year less daunting.
How can you know if you are getting closer to your financial goals if you are not tracking them? There are plenty of easy-to-use online tools that can help you budget, track your spending and manage your progress.
The TrackMySpend app from MoneySmart allows you to record and track your personal spending from wherever you are. This is a great tool to uncover all of the small expenses you may forget about. Click here to get the app.
There are also a range of State Custodians online finance calculators where you can create a budget and also establish a plan to reach your savings target.
If you already have a household budget in place, now is a good time to review whether it is working for you or changes need to be made. If you have kept the same budget for a while, there is a good chance that your income and expenses are different and there is potential for you to save more money just by making a few small changes. Reviewing your budget is a definite must if you have changed jobs, moved address or your family situation has changed.
It is also a great time to be looking at home loans while interest rates are at a record low. If you already have a home loan, when was the last time you reviewed your rates and features? Is it still the most competitive option for you? Do you have the right features that can help you maximise your savings and pay off your home loan sooner? One example is an offset account. An offset account is a transaction account that is linked to your home loan and money that is deposited into it can help reduce the amount of interest you pay.
See if you qualify. To get a more accurate idea of how much you can borrow with State Custodians,