As the sun rises on January 1, many Australians will be getting started on their new year’s pacts. The gym will be full of determined resolution keepers; the pavement pounded by brand-new sneakers. But what about shaping up your finances?
There’s no denying 2022 was a tough year for many mortgage holders – with eight rate rises since the start of May – and unfortunately 2023 is tipped to bring more rate increases.
But by kicking off the year with a few tweaks to your budget and habits you could be in a much better position to ride out future hikes.
Here are 4 simple new year’s resolutions that can help keep your finances fighting fit.
1. Time to ditch unnecessary expenses?
The 2022 rate rises had a lot of us trimming back our budgets. But expenses can creep back in. Before you know it, those “free trials” you forgot to cancel become paid monthly subscriptions.
It’s good to get into the habit of conducting regular expense audits – cut down on streaming services, take-away meals and impulse purchases to make savings.
That said, you don’t have to become an extreme penny-pincher. Little tweaks here and there can add up.
For example, a daily $4 take-away coffee habit costs you $1460 per year! But switching to a DIY French press brew can cost just $260-$400.
2. Have you got an emergency buffer fund?
The last few years have taught us to expect the unexpected. Having money tucked away for emergencies, or more rate rises, can give you added peace of mind.
You can use unlocked savings from your expense audit to start building up an emergency buffer.
And consider adding even more to this fund by selling any unused or unwanted items on ebay or Gumtree.
That way, if rates go up further, you lose your job, or have unforeseen medical expenses, you’ll have the funds on hand.
And you can get rid of some clutter in the process. It’s a win-win!
3. Do you need to pay down a debt?
Christmas is a time many of us cut a little loose on our spending (and fair enough!). But it’s also important to make sure you pay off any debts quickly.
Now may be a good time to either start paying back any money owed on credit cards, get ahead on your mortgage (if you’re able to), or vanquish any other debts you might have.
Also, consider avoiding credit card or buy now pay later purchases if possible. If you forget to pay these on time, you could incur interest and/or late fees.
You may also find that quickly reducing debt tastes sweeter than a take-away mochaccino. And your credit score might thank you for it too, which can make purchasing your first home, new property, or refinancing that little bit easier.
4. When did you last review your home loan?
Last but not least, if you’ve had your home loan for a while, you could be paying something called “the loyalty tax”.
This is where lenders don’t pass on new borrower rates to existing customers.
An RBA study found that compared to new loans, borrowers are charged an average of 40 basis points higher interest for loans written four years ago.
Arranging regular home loan health checks can potentially uncover opportunities for savings.
Not only could you secure a lower interest rate, but you could refinance to a mortgage with other features that may be a better fit for your circumstances – such as an offset account, fixed period, or a linked debit card (to name a few).
To get started on your home loan health check and prepare for whatever 2023 throws at you, get in touch.
We’ll look at your financial footing, your mortgage, and the market to scope out suitable loan products and potential savings.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.