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Have you let your finances slip over Christmas? There are a few simple ways to improve your finances that can make a huge difference.

Every year, Australians make a promise to lose that extra weight, take up a new hobby or save more money, telling themselves that this year will be different. However, out of the 50% of Australians who make a new year's resolution, 88 per cent don't continue.

Start at the beginning

If you’re serious about getting your finances in order you need to lay all of your ‘cards’ on the table. Open every single financial statement—savings, transaction account, credit card, and home loan. Line up all your current bills so you know what your commitments are. You will have a better chance at improving your finances if you know where you currently stand with your income and expenses. Consider signing up for online banking if you haven’t already. You can manage your finances 24/7 at home or on the go.

Don’t go Cold Turkey with a budget that’s too tough

Develop a budget or spending plan that actually works for you based on where you are right now. Don’t go “cold turkey” by cutting too much at once. Instead, try to gradually reduce spending in critical areas. Sudden cuts to costs can often backfire in the long term because it increases the chances of big financial splurges.

Make this the year you tackle your credit card debt

Control your credit, don’t let it control you. Every time you pay off a card with a 15 per cent interest rate, you get a 15 per cent return on your money. There are many providers that offer a low or zero per cent introductory offer for the first 6 to 12 months. If you can find a good deal, move your high-rate debt to that new card and whenever possible, pay more than the minimum repayment required.

Remember that it’s the little things that count

Memberships and ongoing contracts may only seem like small expenses, but these monthly charges add up over time. Change your mobile phone plan or get rid of the landline account unless you absolutely need it. Reconsider Pay TV and look at ways to cut back on utilities such as electricity.

Know Your Credit Rating

Get a free credit report by going to mycreditfile.com.au and do this yearly to ensure that you know exactly what it contains. Your credit file is created when you first apply for credit. Every time you apply for a home loan, personal loan, credit card or enter into a contract even with an interest free period, the credit provider makes an enquiry with the credit reporting agency to get your credit history over the last 5 to 7 years. This enquiry is recorded on your file. Defaults and missed payments will also be recorded.

If you have a poor credit rating, look into what you need to do to turn things around. This may be not applying for further credit if a large number of credit enquiries exist within a short period of time, updating your mailing address when you move addresses and keeping on track of all your repayments and bills so that they are made on time. A good credit rating increases your chances of being approved for a loan in the future.

Get ahead on your mortgage

Extra payments are effective at any time of the year but can be less painful after receiving a tax refund or bonus. Even small amounts that are contributed to your mortgage will add up over time. Moving your home loan to one with a cheaper interest rate can also enable you to get ahead quicker.

At State Custodians, we have a range of tools to help you pay off your home loan sooner like competitive interest rates, 100% offset account, extra repayments and free online redraw. If your new years resolution involves refinancing your home loan or consolidating debt so you can get it paid off quicker, we may be able to help you. Give our expert Lending Specialist team a call on 13 72 62 or leave your details here and they will get in contact with you.