Six ways to get financially fit in your 30's
For many women, their 30’s is a time of trying to manage the right now (home loan, kids school fees, holidays etc) - whilst looking ahead to the future (how can I set myself and my family up?).
After speaking to many women, doing allot of research and being a woman in my 30's - I have written my thoughts on six things to have sorted in your 30's to have a healthy bill of financial health. If you would like to leave a comment, please do so, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
1. Know your position
For me, this is the fundamental first step to making decisions with your money.
This is about knowing how much you earn as a family, how much you spend and the difference.
If the difference is positive - the next question is, what do we want to achieve? how can we best contribute this amount?
If the difference is is negative - what can we do to increase our income or reduce our expenses to get this into positive territory?
There are really cool apps/websites like Money Brilliant or Pocketbook that can help you get more familiar with your finances.
If you have a partner, this is an important conversation for you two to have - and can open up allot of opportunities and questions. Here’s a guide to get the conversation flowing - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-02/questions-to-ask-your-partner-about-money/9349162
Want more? We also offer a five day bootcamp to #getontopofyourfinances, or one-on-one coaching - click here and scroll down to find out more. These help beyond step 1 and will help you get on top of your finances!
2. Save for something
I’m a big advocate for saving 'folders' or accounts. This can be for something specific (e.g. a holiday, car etc) or an emergency fund (that may really reduce the amount of pressure at a difficult time) and is named with the goal in mind.
I contribute money each week into each of my kids’ saving accounts (with their names as the account names) and until recently we also had a "Kids Education" savings account. This was a high interest earning rewards savings account with my bank and even small contributions make a huge difference over time (the magic of compound interest!)
Also, you need to do step #1 to know how much you have to work with!
For additional help on how to automate your savings, see: - http://www.abc.net.au/cm/lb/9409536/data/how-to-automate-your-money-data.pdf, or call your bank / financial provider and ask them to help you.
3. Reduce your debt
We (as consumers) borrow money through two main banking products, credit cards & home loans (and personal loans, but we're not covering those here).
I’m all for racking up points on a Qantas FF Credit Card - but only spending what I can afford. Living beyond means, means credit card debt which can really hurt and take in some cases, years, to rectify.
Listen to http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/the-pineapple-project/demolish-your-debt/9489818 for a real life account of a woman who got into allot of trouble living beyond her means with a large credit card bill.
For my own home, I am a big advocate of getting rid of home loan debt ASAP. This is probably due to my moderate risk profile and also the fact that I’d rather not be paying the bank thousands of dollars in interest every year.
Some tips to reduce your home loan:
(a) Opt for principal and interest (rather than interest only). This will mean that you are paying off part of the actual debt (that is the principal, the amount you need to borrow), not only interest costs (money you pay the bank to borrow money from them). Right now, interest rates are cheaper if you opt for a principal & interest loan. This will enable you to get rid of your debt faster.
(b) Pay your home loan as frequently as possibly (i.e. opt for fortnightly payments rather than monthly) - this will mean extra payments each year and the benefits of compounding.
(c) Open an offset account and put your day to day money here - and you’ll pay less interest (you only pay interest on the difference between your loan and the amount in your offset), for more info on offsets - https://mozo.com.au/home-loans/resources/guides/offset-account-explained/153.
4. Get your super sorted
On average, men retire with almost twice the amount of money in their super than women. There are many reasons for this, but it is important to act in your 30’s to ensure that by the time you’re ready to retire you have saved up enough.
A few tips to get super sorted:
(a) Check the fees you are paying - there are many low fee options out there
(b) Consider consolidating all your super accounts into one account (consider those with lowest fees, best performance etc.)
(c) If you take time off work when you have a baby, investigate options to still contribute to super (e.g. can your partner contribute?)
Want more information, listen to The Pineapple Project podcasts on super: http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/the-pineapple-project/become-a-super-woman/9623670 and http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/the-pineapple-project/why-women-need-to-think-about-their-super/9636214
5. Invest for the future
If you can, start thinking about investing money beyond savings accounts. Pending your risk profile and amount you want to invest (we will blog more on this soon!) you could start small, with for example a Raiz Account which invests loose change (by rounding up purchases and investing the difference) for a fee.
Otherwise investigate different asset classes: property, crypto-currency, shares, bonds or go for an ETFs or managed funds..... or enlist an expert (coming soon!) to help you.
I can't give you advice - you'll need to consider your personal circumstances - but the only (general!) advice I would give you is, do not invest in anything you do not understand.
I'd love to hear from you below on, for investments, what you'd like to learn about. Please post in comments your thoughts.
6. Get your kids involved
With so much of value transfer done virtually rather than with physical cash, teaching kids the value of money presents some challenges - and opportunities.
Here are some of the things I do with my 4.5 year old son to help teach him the value of money:
(a) I let him pay at stores with both my credit card and cash. - this teaches him that when you want goods/services, you need to pay. Plus basic mathematics (when get change from cash)
(b) We have a piggy bank system - He is sometimes rewarded with “points” or “money”. He saves up his points to buy something (learning to save for something he wants & delayed gratification). This teaches him that to get something, you need to work (or earn it!).
(c) I encourage him to give to those in need - whether it is money in the charity box each week, a portion of his birthday money, getting him to choose some clothes/toys to give to those in need or speaking to him about gratitude - this one is really important.
So there you have it, my six secrets to get financially fit in your 30's... I'd love to hear from you - What ideas do you have to get financially fit ?