Improving physical fitness will undoubtedly be top of many New Year’s resolution lists, but why not also make 2007 your year to get financially fit? Here are seven resolutions to help you on your way:
1. Know your net worth
Knowing your ‘net worth’ is an important first step in setting your financial goals, and building your financial plan. To work it out, write down the value of what you own (your assets), then take away the amount you owe (your debts). The difference is your net worth.
2. Set some goals
Decide where you want to be this time next year and make some motivating financial goals. One goal should be to increase your net worth (the difference between what you own and what you owe) over the year.
3. Make a budget and stick to it
It’s what you don’t spend that helps you get ahead financially, no matter what you earn. So see if you can spend less than you earn and create a surplus. Then use the surplus to pay off debt or for saving.
4. Pay off debt
Get rid of your most expensive debts first, like credit cards and hire purchase with high interest rates. Review your mortgage to see if you’re paying it off as fast as you can, this might save you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run.
5. Start saving regularly
Once you’ve paid off any debts with high rates of interest, start putting some money aside for emergencies. Then save for a house deposit, or a holiday, or a new car, or next Christmas…
6. Protect your assets
Buy the right amount of insurance and review this regularly. Make a will, and consider whether putting your assets in a trust is right for you.
7. Plan for retirement
Seriously consider joining a workplace savings scheme if it’s on offer (even if you have a mortgage), and especially if your employer will also contribute. The Government’s new KiwiSaver initiative is coming in July, so you’ll be hearing a lot more about workplace saving in 2007.
The Retirement Commission’s free, independent website, www.sorted.org.nz, has information and calculators to guide you through all these steps.
This article was written by Diana Crossan, Retirement Commissioner for HRINZ publication.