Do you struggle with your savings? Take it one month at a time and start learning.
ME Bank Chief Marketing Officer, Rebecca James outlines how to make 2016 the year you earn more, spend less and start to invest.
January – time for a money detox
The start of a new year marks a great time to get your finances in check. It's time to plan for the year ahead. Understand where your cash goes with the government’s free TrackMySpend app, then back it up with a personal budget for 2016. "It’s a great way to trim unnecessary spending and free up cash for saving and investing," Rebecca says.
February – credit card boot camp. Bring it on!
Your festive spending is probably catching up with you about now. Rebecca advises February is the time for a credit card boot camp: "Knuckle down to pay off the balance, and get ahead by switching to a low rate card with zero annual fees."
March – time for an egg hunt
It’s Easter, and what better time to track down eggs. Nest eggs, that is. According to Rebecca, there are over six million lost super funds worth a combined $16 billion - and some of it could be yours! The myGov portal can help you track down any lost super.
April – future-proof your finances
Don't be an April fool - set a solid blueprint of your finances. Check that financial plan, and make sure everything is on track. Rebecca recommends using the government’s award-winning (and free) TrackMyGOALS app to help you set, plan, and track your progress.
May – protect your financial identity
Did you know one in four Australians is a victim of identity theft? During this month, set a time to change online passwords, update security software and check your personal credit record in order to ensure your finances are secure. Contact credit reference agencies like Dun and Bradstreet and Veda for a free copy of your personalised credit report, Rebecca suggests.
June – there’s a lot to love about tax time
It's the month you've been waiting for since it rolled around last year! The end of the financial year means you could have a juice tax refund awaiting you. If you do your own tax return, Rebecca says you should visit the Australian Tax Office website for a full list of work deductions relating to your job. Otherwise, speak with a registered tax agent to ensure you get the most out of your claim.
July – score a better deal
Instead of hitting the end of financial year sales, seek out savings in your financial accounts. "Start by switching to an everyday bank account, such as ME's Buck account, that offers no ATM fees or monthly account-keeping fees and watch the savings stack up," Rebecca suggests.
August – be your own financial guru
You may not be aware of the host of free financial advice at your fingertips. ME's online money school has plenty of free info packages, with a lot that offer advice specifically to women. "You can also ask your super fund about free financial advice, or visit your bank’s website for financial calculators that crunch the numbers to show how you can save, pay down debt and get ahead financially."
September – spring clean your super
Rebecca says around 90 per cent of Australian women don’t have enough super to enjoy a decent retirement. Keep this in mind and keep an eye on your super balance, and seek advice if you think you need it. "Check your super balance, roll multiple accounts into a single fund, and plan to save more," Rebecca suggests. "Even small extra contributions can add thousands of dollars to your retirement nest egg."
October – buy nothing new month
November – gallop ahead financially
"Open a high-interest savings account with $100, and add $50 each week.Assuming the rate stays the same - in this example 3.55% p.a. - after three years you’ll have accumulated over $8,300. Keep it up for five years to enjoy a honey pot worth over $14,300."
December – give with love, not debt
Time to follow Santa’s example and take a planned approach to Christmas. Make a list of everything you need, check it twice and shop around to compare prices. Aim to pay with cash where possible. It’s still the cheapest way to make purchases. And remember, good giving doesn’t have to involve big spending.