The start of a new year is a good opportunity to look at our finances with fresh eyes, and set goals for improving our financial wellbeing during the year ahead. Being financially fit means taking control of monthly financial obligations and day to day spending. Ensuring we have enough saved up to cover any unexpected financial emergencies. And making financial plans that enable us to do the things we enjoy. Here are 5 tips to help you get financially fit in 2022.
1. Establish your financial goals for 2022
A good place to start is to set a framework of financial goals that not only guide your spending and saving actions throughout the year, but also help you stay motivated to build long term healthy financial habits.
Whatever your goals – be it to pay off your debt, save for a car, home or holiday, or build up your retirement fund – write down specific financial goals in order of priority and set a timeline for each of these.
Then think about how you’ll go about achieving each of your goals – for example, setting up a weekly automatic payment into your savings account, or putting your credit cards away where you’re not tempted to use them while you pay down your credit card debt.
Once your goals are set, check on your progress regularly and reassess and adjust your goals if necessary to help you stay motivated and on track.
2. Assess your accounts and compare
Having the right tools to achieve your goals is a big part of your success. If you haven’t checked in on your bank accounts recently or reviewed your mortgage, car loan or credit card interest rates, the start of a new year is a good time to do so.
Take the time to evaluate each of your savings, current and loan accounts and do some online research to compare how your rates, loan features and facilities stack up against those available to new customers.
Are you getting the best interest rate available for your savings account or your investments? Is there a credit card that would work better for you? If all of your spending is done on your credit card and paid back at the end of each month, it might make sense to choose a credit card that offers reward points rather than a low interest rate.
And if your fixed term interest rate on your Mortgage is nearing the end of its term, talk to your Mortgage Express branded mortgage adviser about your options for refinancing your loan and whether a fixed or floating interest rate is best for you.
3. Review your household budget
Having a budget helps you track your income, monthly expenses, discretionary spending, savings and investments. It also provides a transparent overview of your financial situation and an opportunity to look for ways to cut back on spending and redirect any extra savings. A simple spreadsheet works just fine as a budget tracker, or you could use an online app that links directly to your bank account for a more accurate overview of your spending.
Your budget also helps ensure you pay your bills on time, something that is vital to maintaining your financial wellbeing. Missed or late repayments can impact your credit score and your ability to access future credit. Any time you apply for credit, lenders review your credit score – a history of your financial activity – to assess how well you manage your finances. The higher your credit score, the better your chances of success for any loan applications you make.
4. Organise your financial information
Keeping your important financial information up to date, organised and stored in one safe location allows for convenient reference. It also means your family or financial adviser can easily access your important financial information in the event of an emergency.
Store your financial documents and important details like bank account numbers, passwords and access codes in a secure location – either electronically or as hard copies locked in a safe, along with important personal information such as passports, birth certificates and other vital documents.
5. Remind yourself of your goals
Just as a regular doctor or dentist appointment helps maintain good physical health, so too does a regular review of your finances and your financial goals. At least once a month, check in on your financial situation – review your spending and saving, and make any adjustments as required.
The most important thing is to keep moving forward by reminding yourself of your goals. Get help from professional sources - such as a financial adviser – if you’re struggling to reach your goals and need help with budgeting or financial planning.