One of the biggest causes of stress and strain on relationships in Australian families is financial woes. Australians have around $32 billion in credit card debt, with the average card holder paying around $700 a year in interest alone. Housing affordability is also expected to worsen in 2017, with house prices and rent expected to continue to rise, along with the costs of basic services like electricity, gas and petrol – it’s no wonder we’re stressed about money.
Much of this stress stems from the fact that many people don’t feel they’re financially savvy, and might not be making the best decisions for their future – rather, they’re just getting by, doing what they think is right, instead of what will really make a difference to their financial future.
Here’s some advice from some of the country’s best financial minds to help you find a way to make your finances a source of happiness, not stress.
Prioritise your finances
“We all know that being disorganised and avoiding your money dramas creates stress and worry. So to tackle this head on, make a start by allocating some time each month to getting your financial ‘house’ in order.
“This is a time you sit down, when you’re not distracted by work and the kids, to go through your finances, pay bills, file important documentation and review your expenses and household budget. Once you’ve created a system for yourself that works, you might do this once a month just to keep things in check.”
– Rebecca Maher, The Fiscal Mum
Take advantage of the sharing economy
“If you’re looking for ways to earn more money, participating in the sharing economy is a great way to help earn some extra money to put towards the household budget. You can get started easily, with little to no cost and all that is really required is an investment of your time or existing resources.
“If you’re a little time poor, but have some extra space in your home or garage, consider listing it on storage marketplace Spacer and earn an income from renting out space to locals. Likewise, if you’re lucky enough to own a caravan or RV, you can list it on Camplify and rent it out to other people at times you’re not using it and earn some extra money, rather than having it sitting idle in your driveway.”
– Rebecca Maher, The Fiscal Mum
Pay yourself first
“Without any clear goals to work towards, if you try to save whatever is left over at the end of the month, chances are you will never save. So instead, be ‘SMART’ when it comes to your finances.
“Set yourself some financial goals and be Specific, make them Measurable and Achievable, be Realistic about what’s possible and give yourself a Time frame to stick to. Next, treat your savings like a bill and set up an automatic transfer into your saving account as soon as you get paid. As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind!”
– Natasha Janssens, Women with Cents
Don’t compare yourself to others
“Social media has seen a massive rise in the art of peacocking – an expression used to describe those who constantly boast about their life. It’s easy to feel you are behind the eight ball but remember this is your race and everyone is at different stages.
“If you’re on your first lap there is no point comparing yourself to someone on their 20th lap. Focus on yourself and how far you have come.”
– Phil Usher, The Cheeky Investor
Make sure you’re on the same page
“Before you take on mortgage or investment debt as a couple, or start contributing to jointly held investments together, ensure you have a conversation about your goals as a consolidated unit over the next 1, 5, 10 years and make sure you are on the same path.
“It’s much better to set up your strategy correctly at the outset, rather than having to fix up a mess later down the track!”
– Brendan Burrows, PSK