The new financial year is here! You may be busy sorting out your tax filing, getting your accounts in order or hoping to take advantage of end of financial year sales. But have you considered making some money resolutions for the next 12 months?
Now may be the perfect time to take more control of your finances. Here are six money resolutions that could make this financial year even better than the last.
Promise to make and keep to a monthly budget
Making a household budget is one of the most basic financial tips out there, and for good reason. It may sound simple, but budgeting is important. Knowing how much you make, spend and save each month goes a long way towards financial success.
Set aside time to get familiar with your money. Write down how much you expect to earn this year, taking into consideration bonuses, income other than your primary salary or a larger tax bill. Do the same for your expenses, using last year’s figures as a guide. You may find that cuts are needed in some areas to pay bills, meet savings goals or avoid going into debt.
Once you’ve hammered down a household budget, it’s time for the most important bit—sticking to it. This may mean setting a regular appointment to review your progress and make changes. You may be more successful some months than others, and setbacks are normal. But make a promise to yourself to work towards meeting your budget each month.
Pledge to save more than you spend
Part of your budget might include setting aside money for a rainy day. Whether this is a set amount each week or a percentage of your pay check, saving is a smart financial strategy. It can help you meet long term goals or provide a safety net for emergencies.
A Victoria University report found that 60 per cent of Kiwis have less than $10,000 in savings, and few liquid assets.1 This may put many New Zealanders at risk for financial hardship in the event of an emergency. Car repairs, unemployment, or even an unexpected death in the family all have the potential to drain savings accounts or force someone into debt.
Saving more than you spend each month can do more than just help shield you financially during an emergency. It could also help remove money-related stress, allow you to rely less on credit cards or go towards something fun, like travel or gifts.
Set specific, measurable goals
If you’re focusing more on your savings this financial year, you may want to set a few specific goals to work towards. Setting specific goals can make saving money feel more tangible and easier to commit to. This also makes it possible to track your progress and know when you’ve reached success.
The more detailed you can be when setting money goals, the better. Instead of saying you want to “save more” this year, choose a dollar amount you want your savings account to hit by a certain date. Research the cost of your dream holiday, then pledge to set aside an amount each pay check for travel. Whether your savings goal is short or long term, small or large, remember to celebrate your success before moving on to the next one!
Resolve to pay down your debts
Debt, especially if it comes with a high interest rate, may be holding you back financially. Paying down or completely eliminating these balances could free up money for savings goals, retirement or lifestyle spending.
According to Reserve Bank of NZ figures, Kiwis collectively held just over $7.1 million in credit card debt as of January 2018.2 This may be a problem for the 35 per cent of cardholders who do not pay off their balance at the end of each month.3 Credit cards often come with high interest rates, which sometimes makes it harder to pay off the balance the longer they hold the debt.
Tackling debt, regardless of how it’s held, could be a smart move this financial year. Lowering your balances could help you save on interest charges, and paying off the balance completely could save you even more! If you have enough in savings, you might also consider making an extra payment on a car loan or mortgage.
Help protect your family with life insurance
Many people procrastinate on taking out a life insurance policy. You may feel you’re too young, or you just don’t want to think about the worst happening to you or your partner. However, the start of the new financial year could be a great time to tackle this resolution.
Now that you’ve reviewed your budget, you hopefully have a better understanding of your financial situation. If you or your partner might struggle to pay the bills should one of you pass away suddenly, then you may want to consider a life insurance policy. Cover might also help you protect the future you’re building, including any savings goals you’ve set.
If you already have a life insurance policy, now may be good time to review the details. The amount of cover chosen may no longer fit your needs. You might also wish to change the premium frequency to make budgeting easier or update the beneficiaries to reflect changes to your relationship or family.
Put aside a little more for the future
Depending on your age, retirement may still be decades away. That doesn’t mean it can’t be part of your money resolutions now. Saving more for retirement when you’re young could mean enjoying more comfortable lifestyle in your golden years.
A 2016 report estimated the amount of savings that couples are likely to need for retirement, in addition to their NZ Superannuation accounts. A two-person household living a “no frills” lifestyle in a rural area may need just over $78,000 saved.4 However, if your retirement plans include more luxuries or treats—such as regular travel or dinners out—you may need more. Couples may need between $400,000 and $486,000 (depending on where they live) to maintain a more comfortable lifestyle in retirement. And again, this is on top of your NZ Superannuation balance.
Setting aside money for retirement could help you save enough for when the time comes. Even if it’s a small amount each week, you can make saving for retirement a habit. Then when you have more disposable income available, you could start increasing the amount you save.
Happy (Financial) New Year!
Use this financial year to make a fresh start, with a clearer picture of your finances and positive habits to achieve your money goals.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is of general nature, and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs or seek professional advice, where necessary.
1. Radio NZ, NZ’s wealth divide continues to grow – report
2. RBNZ, Credit card balances – C12
3. Canstar, New Zealanders ‘racking up’ credit card debt
4. Massey University, New Zealand Retirement Expenditure Guidelines 2016