Here’s how to run a five step health check on your finances

Struggling with money? Try this 5 step financial health check guide for some inspiration on achieving your money goals.

3 May 2024

| Financial Planning

Managing money and making the most out of it is a critical life skill and good financial health is just as important to your wellbeing as physical and mental health. In fact, an Australian National University survey reports that one in four Australians are under increasing financial stress, finding it difficult to survive on their incomes. 

So reviewing your finances every six months can be an excellent way of staying in control of your money and moving towards your financial goals.

And it doesn’t have to be tough or time consuming. Here’s five tips to help you complete a financial health check.

Step 1: Assess your financial situation

Figuring out where you stand with your finances is a key first step – how much money do you have? How much are you able to save? Do you have debt you need to consider? What are your long and short term financial goals? Taking a closer look at your money situation might feel uncomfortable but breaking it into smaller questions can help make it less daunting.

A good first step can be to start recording all of your income and essential and non-essential spendings in a spreadsheet or a convenient budget calculator. To help you get the most accurate picture, use actual figures from bills and invoices when you can.

Step 2: Understand your spending habits

Once you have your results from the money tracking exercise, now is the time to get truthful and start to analyse how your expenses align with your income and your goals.

Are you overspending in places you didn’t realise? Ordering takeaways more often than you hoped? It happens! Taking the time to truly look at where your money is going might help you identify areas you could cut back.

Even little changes like dropping one takeaway coffee a week could save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Using ‘buy now, pay later’ services can sometimes impact your spending and savings. Since you don’t have to part with the full amount at the time of purchase, it can make it harder to keep track of what you owe and when.

Thinking of buying a home soon? Find out how buy now pay later could affect your lending.

Step 3: Suss out your superannuation

Feeling set up for the future can go a long way to alleviating financial stress but knowing how to maximise your super fund can get confusing. Despite running huge publicity campaigns urging people to keep an eye on their super, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has found that Australians still have a staggering $16 billion in lost or unclaimed superannuation. Here’s how you can keep track of your super fund and make the most out of it:

  • Get into the habit of reviewing your super regularly. Know the fees you are being charged. Generally, the lower the fees, the better.
  • Check your investment options. They generally range from conservative (low risk), to balanced (medium risk), to growth (high-risk).
  • Consolidate your super accounts. If you changed jobs in the past, you may have ended up with more than one account.
  • Make extra, voluntary contributions to your super if you can afford to.
  • Check how much you might have in your super account at the time of your retirement. This way you can adjust your current contributions accordingly. You can make use of online tools to help you with this.

Speaking to a financial advisor, like Calm Wealth, might help you understand your current and future positions.

Step 4: Review your utilities and subscriptions

Switching or updating your utilities and cancelling unused subscriptions could potentially save you hundreds of dollars. Aussies could save up to $1,000 a year by switching to a cheaper broadband internet connection, according to Mozo.com.au. Most subscriptions would also usually cost less when you switch to an annual payment plan as compared to a monthly subscription.

Here’s a few other places to start assessing for potential savings:

  • TV and streaming services
  • Car insurance
  • Music services
  • Home or contents insurance
  • Electricity
  • Gas

Step 5: Set a savings goal

Once you have a goal, it’s easier to start working towards it. Whether that’s having a specific goal for your savings account, a home loan, the wedding of your dreams or even a special treat for yourself, getting clear on what you want can help you work out how to achieve it.

Now that you’ve got your goal, it’s time to think about the way you’ll save for it. Different savings accounts and term deposits can provide different features and benefits depending on what suits your financial situation.

Once you have your accounts set up, creating regular automatic transfer can help you keep track. Here’s how to do that with your Credit Union SA Mobile Banking App.

Need help?

If you have any questions or would like support, please call our Member Experience Centre on (08) 8202 7777 – we’re here to help!

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This article is intended as general information only and has been prepared without taking into account the personal financial situation, objectives or needs of the reader. Before acting on this information, you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. You should always seek professional advice or assistance before making any financial decisions.