Make 2024 a financially healthy one

We made it! Another year is behind us – how was 2023 for you? Did you achieve everything you’d planned?

Are you better or worse off financially than you were this time last year?

With a new year upon us, what can you do to make the most of every moment?

We’ve put together a short guide to get you started and plan for the year ahead, a quarter at a time.

January to March

Make a start by turning wishes into goals. Some might be long-term like becoming debt-free, saving a home deposit, or retiring in a few years’ time. What can you do this year to support those goals? Write it all down and give it a name – something you can own.

At the same time, don’t forget living for now. Prepare a month-by-month budget that makes room for the fun times – holidays and celebrations – as well as covering the necessities.

Anticipate spikes in your spending. Do your major bills all seem to fall due at the same time putting pressure on your cash flow? Investigate monthly premium payments or spreading renewal dates across the year.

Use this first quarter to bed down the budgeting habit and track your actual spending against your plan.

At the end of March, do a quick review of your progress so far and make adjustments if necessary.

April to June

It’s time to prepare for the end of financial year (EOFY). By June 30 you will want to have made any intended additional superannuation contributions (make sure you stay within relevant limits) and finalised donations to your favourite charities.

Is there any other tax-deductible expenditure you can bring forward?

June is also the month for EOFY sales – an opportunity to grab some bargains on early Christmas shopping and birthday gift purchases. Don’t forget to include these in your budget.

July to September

If you’re expecting a tax refund for the financial year just finished, lodge your tax return early.

What are you going to do with the refund? A great way to balance additional income is to put some towards your goals and some towards a nice treat or reward

With your tax return out of the way, the third quarter is a good time to start a bit of financial spring-cleaning. Review your super and savings, insurance and estate plans, loans and credit cards, and overall financial strategy. Is everything up to date?

How’s your super doing? Would salary-sacrificing help, remember the power of compounding, the more you can contribute on a regular basis will set you up well for those years when you need to draw your income from your own assets.

Can you consolidate debt or refinance at a lower rate?

October to December

Into the final strait and how are you tracking? Are you ‘on target’?

Maybe The Plan you came up with back in January wasn’t realistic. It’s not too late to adjust both your strategy and your expectations.

If things are looking good, it’s important to stay focused. Christmas with its temptations to over-spend will be upon us before you can blink!

Once the turkey and plum pudding have settled, it will be time to review the year just gone (again!) and to give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve achieved. Then take a deep breath, check your goals, and update The Plan for the coming year…

Invaluable help

Your financial adviser is an expert in working out the financial details of how you can achieve your goals. If you are finding it difficult to put plans and place and stick to them, a financial adviser has all the tools and expertise to help you, keep you on track and hold you accountable and most of all provide encouragement and advice along the way.

Ready to start planning? Give your adviser a call and make a date to nut out your plan for the coming year.

Christine Swanson is qualified professional adviser who specialises in retirement planning – click here to start making smarter financial decisions now!

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