Happy New Year everyone! The start of a new year is the best time to get serious about your finances. Here are some resolutions for you to try and achieve in 2011.
Start a share portfolio
The last six months was a tough period for the Australian sharemarket. There will be turbulent times in the first few months of the year as well. But there are bargains to be made in 2011. Remember the maxim to "buy low, sell high." Spread your risk by diversifying with a few stocks and purchase over a few months.
Most households have felt the squeeze after seven rate rises since the GFC. Whilst the Reserve Bank has hinted a freeze on any more rises in the short term, don't be complacent. If you have the opportunity then start paying extra. Avoid any future pain by paying off your debt ASAP.
Cut up the credit card
At $48 billion, the national credit card debt has never been higher. In fact it has risen by a staggering 50% over the past five years. Get rid of your "security blanket". It's the devil.
Want some free money? If you earn less than $31,920 then put an extra $1,000 into super and the Government will match it. It phases out when your income reaches $61,920. If you haven't started yet this financial year then start putting in $40 per week from now til 30 June.
Don't incur late fees
Get into the habit of paying bills on time. It amazes me how many people are lazy and get slugged with late fees by being inefficient. $30 here and $50 there adds up over 12 months.
Write up a budget
Most people get put off with having to write up a budget but they are really important for any household savings plan. Excel spreadsheets has an excellent tool to make the process easier.
Save for a rainy day
What would happen if there was a GFC Mark II? Don't get caught out. Open savings accounts for education, holidays, Christmas and emergencies. Put a regular amount into them from every pay. Remain disciplined and don't access these funds!
Do some study
With the economy recovering I am predicting that there are going to be some great opportunities in the job market later in the year. The best investment you could make is in yourself and acquire more skills. You are never too old to learn new tricks.
There are two ways to save money – earn more or spend less. "Cut out the fat" out of your spending. Eating out, socialising, technology, clothing and transport are the main areas to focus on. Look for bargains and buy in bulk. Worry about the cents and the dollars will look after themselves.
Monitor your resolutions
The worst part about setting New Year's Resolutions is not following through with them. A note in your diary (or Outlook calendar) to review your goals every three months can put the slackest person back on track.