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How to Be Money Smart in 2017

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Published February 7th 2017

What's your new year resolution for 2017? Are you planning a big overseas adventure, hosting a wedding or finally going to purchase that brand new car? Or perhaps you are saving for a deposit on your first home, launching a new small business or want to clear the credit card debt. Whatever you want to achieve this year, there are many easy and creative ways to save and get a handle on your personal finances.

We hope this guide will inspire you and if you have some handy hints and tips, please leave a message below.

1) Credit Cards

It is very easy to rack up a credit card debt in our age of 'PayWave', swiping and online shopping - but there are ways you can manage your credit card.

Most importantly is to spend within your means. This may mean sticking to just one low-interest credit card, so you can easily monitor your spending habits and pay your bills in a timely manner. And if you want to be more savvy - consider lowering your credit card limit.

By only using one credit, you can focus on paying the highest interest rate credit card or smallest debt first. Make the minimum payment each month (or more if you can) and once the debt clears, close the account by contacting the provider (this will help avoid any hidden fees).

Finally, with the one low-interest credit card you are currently using, make sure to pay off the outstanding balance each month (not the minimum payment) so you can continue to remain debt free.

Alternatively consider other payment options such as direct debit or cash - particularly if you are using your credit card to pay utility bills or groceries. It may be 'old-fashioned' but it's the best way to work within a budget as you will be considering each purchase carefully.

2) Home Loan

Want to instantly save thousands of dollars? Consider revising your existing home loan and refinancing it for a better rate.

If you feel that you might be paying too much, speak to an expert and explore new options such as flexible repayments, redraw, flexible rate options or portability.

The refinancing of a home loan can be considered a great way of accessing the home equity for the purpose of investing in different areas such as shares or managed funds.

3) Banking

Having a savings account is always a good thing. There are now a wide variety of no fee and high-interest saving accounts available from all the big banks.

See what suits your needs as multiple withdrawals each month may incur a fee and others might require a minimum monthly deposit.

Having these restrictions, however, will help you develop good spending habits.

4) Other ways to save money

  • Stop buying coffee - that $4 latte every workday can cost you over $1000 a year! Reducing alcohol can also help you save (and feel better).

  • Subscriptions - Are you making the most of your music, film and TV streaming services? If you have multiple subscriptions, consider de-activating one or two - you will instantly save a couple hundred a year.

  • Speaking of subscriptions - perhaps it is time to not renew the gym membership and instead pay for the services you actually use.

  • Stop buying groceries for one week and actually consume what you have in the house. Get creative with your meals and plan ahead. You will be surprised at what you can create!

  • Get crafty for birthday and Christmas gifts - baked goods are always a popular option!

  • Write a list of what you need before going shopping - this is a great way to avoid impulse buying!

  • Reduce the amount of takeaway you purchase and eating out and invite your friends over. Ask everyone to bring a plate.

  • Clear out the closet and sell what you no longer need or use. Ebay, Gumtree or a garage sale could bring in a few hundred dollars.

    Have some ideas of your own to share - please leave a note below!

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    Your Comment
    Thanks for the article Vanessa.
    But my coffee is non negotiable!
    by Jenny Esots (score: 3|1519) 1584 days ago
    Great article, Vanessa. It is worth the time to check online or phone around for a better deal on your power, phone, internet and insurance. Usually if you bundle your phone(s) and internet you can get a better deal than going with different companies. With house, contents and car insurance you can usually get a better price if you have them all with the same company. Often if a company thinks they are going to lose your custom they will offer a better deal, at least for the next 12 months so it's worth letting them know you are thinking about switching to another provider.
    by Marie Vonow (score: 1|14) 1565 days ago
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