How to take control of your finances
Do you get bewildered by having to clean your house , your room, the oven or do the ironing? Personal experience tells me we procrastinate and then with a party coming on, we rush madly and create more stress in our lives. Getting control of your finances is just like cleaning: we have to do it, like it or not! So learn to look at it from the end product: the feeling of achievement and contentment when it looks and smells beautiful and you are proud of your actions. Now think of that overseas trip or the beautiful dress you can now afford without putting it on your credit card!
When you look at it from this end, it was not that hard, was it? It seems hard. Let us take it step by step:
1. Your first step is done: Awareness : you know it needs doing, roll your sleeves up and get on with it. With your finances, you start by taking stock. Divide a piece of paper into how much you own (your “assets”) and how much you owe (your “liabilities”) and start listing.
Don’t despair as you will tend to forget your most valuable asset: YOU and how resourceful you are! Please understand: this exercise is only “at this point in time”, a static document or photograph that your mind will now start to work on and change.
2. Decide “what” you will clean! What is it you want to Achieve: what is your goal, simply to get out of debt does not do it, be specific and quantify how much you wish to reduce the debt and set a realistic timeline. Feel the satisfaction of having money in the bank whether is it for your holiday or after you paid off your credit card.
3. Your next course of Action: Get your tools
3.1 Learning and reading about “salary packaging” or using your pre tax dollars as part of your salary to pay for things such as your car, a laptop, or your mortgage repayment (check the ATO website for more information)
3.2 or “salary sacrificing” as a way of saving tax, for example in your superannuation contribution. Don’t think of Super as not for you, think of it as another “pot of gold (something you already own: another asset)” you can build and then reallocate, even to property given the latest tax changes. Then approach your employer to see what they can offer.
3.3 Research cheaper credit options so as to consolidate all your debts into one, then approach your bank to renegotiate a better rate and be assertive in asking as there is a lot of competition right now.
3.4 Getting a discount on your HELP by a lump sum payment or if you have a family you may qualify for family benefits or if you can get “a tax offset” such as with all your medical/dental excess bills, your children’s education expenses, or contributing to your partner’s or husband’s super.
3.5 See if you can pay some bills monthly such as insurance whilst you focus on paying those bills or cards with the higher interest rates. Even your tax bill can be paid monthly.
4. Most of all, get professional Advice and Assistance, before making a decision or to educate yourself as to what is the best alternative for you such as with your accountant, tax agent or your financial planner. Just like you could pay a cleaner to help you get the job done, these people are specialists so they can advise you on all of the above matters.
Use them as your mentors or a coach. It might be the best investment in yourself. Another avenue is to check with business organizations for women in your industry or at your stage in life, there are different community organisations that provide women services.
5. Adjust, you move your furniture around and see how it looks, then measure and review your goals often to see if you are on track.
6. Appreciate; There is intense pleasure in looking back and celebrating even your smaller milestones: the fresh scent of achievement.
7. Once your plan has worked, look at what you have Accomplished, where you were and where you are now. Treat yourself emotionally! Remember, you are never going back!