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It’s July 1, the very first day of the 2013-14 financial year – and while it’s unlikely to be met with popping the bubbly (or a hangover!), today is the perfect day to set yourself on the right track for the year ahead.

Just the same as New Years resolutions, the first thing to remember though, is not to set unrealistic goals. For example, it may not be possible to get out of debt entirely this year, but you can certainly put yourself on the right track to achieving that goal.

It’s also paramount to review your goals throughout the year, and discuss your plans and changes you would like to make with your financial advisor.

1. Address your debt

Do you know how much you owe? Do you have a strategy to pay it back? Australian Financial Solutions is one company dealing in best-practice debt management – the first step according to AFS is to acknowledge the problem. “Open all your bank statements, letters from banks and lenders, and ensure you have documentation for every financial transaction. Tally up your debts and find out how much you really owe – it’s surprising how many people aren’t aware of the amount of debt that they might have. Lay everything out on the table and ensure that you know what you’re dealing with,” AFS said.

2. Make a realistic budget

As a nation, Australians have a $35 billion credit card debt – put simply, we are living beyond our means. Work out how much money you realistically have coming in, and out – and don’t forget to factor in unforeseen circumstances

3. Change the set-and-forget mentality

We’re creatures of habit – after all, why fix it if it ain’t broke, right? Wrong. The issue is products offerings are constantly evolving. You may have had the best interest rate on your savings account back in 2009, but that could bear little relevance to what’s on offer today. Whether it’s your credit card, your mortgage or your insurance, the new financial year is as good a time as any to review your rates. It’s likely you’ll be able to save a few thousand dollars.

4. Products and legislation news

It’s impossible to change what you don’t know – that’s why it’s so important to stay abreast of legislative and product changes. You are of course reading Dynamic Business right now, but how often do you make time to read the latest news and updates? The easiest way to stay in the loop is to follow your favourite news outlets on social media and sign up to daily or weekly news alerts delivered straight to your inbox.

5. Seek financial advice

If you haven’t got a financial adviser, why not? There’s never been a better time to seek financial advice – the Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) reforms take effect from today, and the reforms mean greater transparency of fee structures than ever before.

Many financial advisers provide a free initial consultation, and will be able to tailor solutions for all types of financial situations.

Put your best foot forward and happy financial year!

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Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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