30-day financial health check

  • 2 April 2024
  • by BG Private
  • 10 minute read

There is so much you can do to help improve your personal financial situation. Here are 30 ways to get started.

Day 1 Use you credit card perks

Use credit cards wisely, but, if you’re going to have one, you might as well take advantage of any benefits like rewards points, insurance, airport lounge access, complimentary tickets, discounts and concierge service. Some even offer extended 0% interest periods. Always check the fine print and shop around to make sure you’re getting a good deal on what they offer, and aim to repay your debt in full each month.

Day 2 Imagine your retired self

It’s hard to know how much to save for retirement. What will the price of things be then? How long will you live? What big expenses will crop up? One starting point could be to imagine what a typical year might look like: travel, social life, home repairs, a new car, some medical expenses, gifts, charity donations and so on.

A Financial Advisor can help you figure out a realistic goal based on your desired lifestyle and
other potential needs.

Day 3 Don’t skip this ↓

You might have heard that takeaway coffees (and smashed avo!) are holding you back from your financial goals. While frittering away money has an obvious cost, you also don’t want to forego all of life’s little luxuries.

So, what should you do? Budget for it…then enjoy.

A budget helps you cover your financial obligations and save for your future, and then tells you how much you have left to enjoy as you see fit.

Day 4 Rein it in

It can be tough to hear, but sometimes the best advice is simply to spend less. Ultimately, most financial goals aren’t achievable if you consistently spend more than you earn. One technique is to translate the price of what you’re about to buy into the hours you’ve worked for it (your hourly rate is your pay divided by hours worked). Another is to translate a purchase into potential cost per use.

Remind yourself that every dollar you spend is a dollar that can’t be spent on something else. Ask yourself if you are happy with how you are about to allocate that dollar, e.g. “Is this purchase more important than the home deposit I’m saving for?”

Day 5 Get a side gig

If you’re struggling to spend less than you earn or you have a big financial goal, you may need to expand your income. Sometimes a raise isn’t on the cards, so do you have a skill you can monetise? Or spare time for a casual job? Freelancing, dog walking, retail, labouring or driving an Uber are just some ideas.

There’s no shame in doing what you have to do to get from A to B. And for some, their side gig has even turned into a lucrative main gig!

Day 6 Take a bird’s eye view

You blew your budget. You made a bad investment. You’re in an expensive season of life (hello private school fees!). The stock market’s down today. You’ve had to dip into your rainy-day fund.

Don’t let setbacks derail you!

Focus on the bigger picture: Are you trending in the right direction? Are you making calculated debt decisions? Do you have a plan to get back on track?

Day 7 Don’t bury your head in the sand

Money can be an uncomfortable topic for some but tackling it head on can lead to better — and less stressful — outcomes. No matter your situation — good, bad or ugly — it’s time to take a hard look at your finances.

View the balance of your super and any student loans; look at how your investments are performing; take stock of your debts; find out what interest rates you’re paying; understand your spending habits; pin down your goals and how you’ll get there.

Financial advisors have seen it all before and can give you non-judgmental guidance.

Day 8 Think of your favourite people

If you have kids, grandkids, a niece you adore or a treasured friend, you may want to help them financially. If this is on your to-do list, think about speaking to a Financial Advisor about the best way to proceed. You don’t want to overextend yourself when giving generously to others.

Day 9 Set goals

Whether it’s improving your overall spending habits, buying a car, paying off a debt, or having “X” in your retirement fund, it’s important to be clear on your short-, medium- and long-term goals.

Establish timeframes and priorities, and break each goal down into manageable steps.

Remember, financial goals aren’t set in stone — it’s OK to revise them later on.

Day 10 Shift your mindset

Some of us have an unhealthy relationship with money. This might be due to what we saw as children (e.g. our parents’ spending habits), guilt around doing well financially, or assigning emotions like fear, shame or envy to money.

Some of us also engage in negative self-talk, like “I’m so stupid for having credit card debt,” or “I’ll never be able to afford my own home.”

Consider seeing a professional, like a psychologist with experience in this area, with the intent of discussing your attitude towards money.

Day 11 Trap your savings

Having separate sub-accounts for various savings goals is great, but it only works if you don’t dip into those buckets unnecessarily.

Willpower is your first line of defence, but you should also find ways to “trap” your savings to make it harder to access unless it’s genuinely needed.

Consider opening sub-accounts with another bank that you don’t have a card for. And remove its app from your phone so you can’t transfer money to your day-to-day account when you’re
out shopping.

You could also ring-fence your money by putting it in a term deposit so you can’t touch it without a longer notice period.

Day 12 Work on your financial literacy

Knowledge is power. If terms like good debt, bad debt, capital gain, principal, credit score, compound interest, inflation, annual percentage rate, diversification and stock market are a little hazy, it’s a good idea to refresh.

There’s lots of help out there. Financial Advisors can explain things in plain English but there are also books, podcasts and websites that can help.

Day 13 Do a deep dive on your spending

Track every cent you spend for a few months (or even better, a whole year). That way you can see exactly where your money goes; the types of expenses you need to budget for; and what one-off annual expenses you have (like rego).

Does your spending align with your values and goals? Should you cut back somewhere? How much are you able to save? It’s only by tracking that you’ll know for sure. Using a spreadsheet or a budgeting app can help.

Day 14 Get rainy-day ready

A job loss or an emergency can happen to anyone, so it’s good practice to have a larger chunk of cash set aside in a high-interest savings account that you can easily access.

The most common advice is to put aside at least 2-3 months of expenses, but you may need more based on your circumstances.

Then…don’t touch your rainy-day fund unless it really is a “rainy day.” Otherwise, if you can’t afford something, don’t buy it — that’s not what your emergency fund is for.

Day 15 Protect yourself

Not having a safety net in the form of health insurance and income protection could leave you vulnerable. Research the options and get the right insurance coverage for you.

Day 16 Get cyber secure

Falling victim to a scam, identity theft or ransomware could have a huge impact on your savings, credit score and more.

Although cyber criminals are getting smarter every day, you can do things to protect yourself. Don’t click on suspicious links, don’t send money to unverified recipients, install antivirus software and use strong passwords — just to name a few!

Day 17 Check your rating

Missing a loan repayment or being late with a bill can negatively affect your credit score — and banks check your score when you apply for a loan. You can check yours online for free via Experian, illion or Equifax, and take steps to boost your rating if need be.

Day 18 Put your money to work

A really good way to start growing wealth is by investing. You could consider starting with the difference between what you earn and what you spend (provided you already have an emergency fund).

You do not need a lot of money to start investing but keep in mind that whenever you invest, your capital is at risk. Seek professional advice from a Financial Advisor before starting.

Day 19 Hop around

Things like mortgage repayments and rent might be more or less fixed, but there are lots of expenses you might be able to reduce by negotiating or jumping to a different provider.

Can you get a better phone/internet deal? Do you need a premium Netflix plan when basic will do? Can you switch to “home brand” when you buy groceries? It all adds up!

Day 20 Get your affairs in order

It can be hard to think about, but we are all mere mortals at the end of the day. If you have property, investments or important possessions, who would you like to leave them to? You are never too old or too young to get your affairs in order.

Keep in mind, it’s not just about the will. Estate planning, done by a solicitor in conjunction with a Financial Advisor, can help ensure you don’t lose any of your wealth through unnecessary taxes.

Day 21 Sell your stuff

It’s easier than ever to sell things you no longer use. Convert the extra cash into savings, debt reduction or investments. Plus, use it as a chance to examine where you perhaps haven’t spent
wisely in the past, and commit to not making the same mistakes twice.

Day 22 Deal with debt

There are a few common methods for paying down debt. One is called “the snowball method” where you pay off the smallest loan as quickly as possible to gain momentum.

Another is “the avalanche method” where you pay down the highest interest rate loan first to reduce the interest you’ll pay overall.

A Financial Advisor can advise you on the most effective way for you to tackle debt.

Day 23 Get tailored advice

Everyone’s financial situation is unique, and one size doesn’t fit all. Get tailored advice from a Financial Advisor who will take into account your specific needs: family, debts, earning potential, lifestyle, age, risk appetite and so on.

Day 24 Slow and steady wins the race

When it comes to long-term financial freedom there typically aren’t many shortcuts, but by investing even small amounts each month, sticking to your budget and being careful with debt,
you will get there!

Compound interest (where interest is paid both on the principal and the interest) is your best friend in helping you reach your goals so it pays to start saving and investing sooner rather than later.

Day 25 Just do it (together)

Talk to your friends and family about the new money habits you’re creating. You might find you’re not alone!

Switch from expensive dinners to cheap eats. Look for free events in your area. Meet for a walk instead of retail therapy. Resist the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses.”

There’s nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to working hard to reach a goal.

Day 26 Max out tax time

By claiming a tax deduction for some work-related expenses and expenses related to creating taxable income (like ongoing Financial Advice fees relating to investments), you can reduce the amount of tax you pay. An accountant can help you get the best outcome.

If you do get a bit of a tax refund, think wisely about what you will do with it — could you pay down credit card debt or invest it?

Day 27 Make a sacrifice

Check your employer’s salary packaging policy and see what expenses like car, mobile phone and extra super contributions you can get in exchange for some of your salary. This will reduce the tax you pay.

Even salary sacrificing a few hundred dollars per month into super can add up to tens of thousands of dollars to your retirement pot over the decades (made up of your savings and interest).

On the topic of super, check you are happy with how it’s invested and compare funds to make
sure you are not paying too much in fees.

Day 28 Remove temptation

You can resist everything but temptation, right? Marketing is the finely-tuned art of separating you from your cash. Here are some ideas for reducing the temptation:

● Don’t sign up to marketing emails (or sign up for the sign-up discount and then unsubscribe)
● Use an ad blocker
● Delay purchases by a week
● Don’t buy something if your only motivation is that it’s on sale
● Only buy a new piece of clothing if you donate one to charity
● Don’t go food shopping hungry
● Meal plan and only buy what’s on your shopping list
● Don’t buy new things when you can solve the problem without it (e.g. you may not need to buy storage tubs if your existing cupboard space will do).

Day 29 Have the tough conversations

If you’re in a long-term relationship, consider meeting (at least) annually for a money matters date. It might sound tedious or awkward but financial troubles are one of the main causes of divorce so it pays to tackle it head on.

Get on the same page about your financial goals. Create a shared budget. Talk about your spending (and splurging) habits. Figure out your bank account set ups (i.e. will you have separate or joint accounts). Be transparent about your income and debts. Decide whether it’s your, my or our money. Negotiate who pays for what should one of you earn significantly more than the other. Discuss the plan should something unexpected happen, like death or divorce.

Day 30 – Ask for help

Marriage. Ageing parents. Starting a business. Injury. Retirement. Grandkids. Inheritance. Career change. Divorce. Redundancy. Buying a home. Renovating. The trip of a lifetime. Investing. A second divorce. A holiday home. Dream car. A boat. Studying. Downsizing. Donating to charity. Helping your kids.

No matter what your goals are or what life throws at you, a Financial Advisor can help you navigate the highs and lows.

Contact us!

We can help you reach your goals. Email us at info@bgprivate.com.au or call us at +61 3 9810 0700 to arrange a meeting with one of our experienced Financial Advisors.

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