Top three personal finance questions to tackle in 2020

13 December 2019

The start of a new year is always a good time to hit the reset button and set things up for the year ahead. Personal finances is a key one for many of us to get right each year.

Here are the top three questions that will help us work through our personal finance situation and set us up for 2020.

1. How much debt is on hand?

For most of us, debt is inevitable. Especially for the ones with a house and mortgage. Others may have debt such as student loan, credit card, "buy now and pay later" schemes, car loan, etc.

In order to get a handle on our personal finances, we need to know how much debt we have. Make a quick list of all the debts you can think of and add it all up to get a total view. Going through your bank accounts is a good way to see what repayments you have.

There are a bunch of tools out there on the market that can help with this exercise. Sorted.org.nz has a purpose build debt calculator that is useful. Check it out here.

2. What can be done to minimised the debt?

The golden rule of debt repayment is to pay off the highest interest debt first.

For example, if you have some extra cash that can be used to pay off some debt and you have a credit card debt with interest rate at 12.95% p.a. and a mortgage with interest rate at 4.5% p.a., paying off the credit card should put you in a better financial position. The credit card with higher interest means that you will pay more over time the longer you take to pay it off.

Are there interest-free offers to take advantage of?

Look around and see what offers are in the market. Interest free credit card for balance transfers are common. This offer is usually for a 6 or 12 month term. This means that if you transfer your credit card debt from one provider to the one with the offer, it will likely save you interest for a period of time. The interest-free period is a good time to save up and pay off a good amount of the debt.

Check if it is worth re-fixing the home loan.

Another common practice with the current low interest rate in the market is to check with your bank or mortgage provider if it is worth re-fixing your mortgage. This will likely be worth it if you had fixed your mortgage two or three years ago when interest rates were still relatively high. However, check with your providers what fees will be incurred and you will need to decide if it is worth re-fixing at today's rate. This could sometimes save thousands of dollars given most mortgages are worth hundreds of thousands, even a small change in interest rate can have a big impact.

3. Are the things that matter protected?

Think about all your assets and what matters most to you. Are these things protected with insurance? If something bad were to happen (e.g. a car accident, an illness, redundancy etc.), are you and your loved ones financially protected from it with insurance. Now is a good time to check this, not when something bad has happened as it will be too late to try and protect it then.

Quashed is a tool that can help with bringing all your existing insurance into one place. See what you are currently protecting, and what is not protected that should be. Find out how much you are really spending on insurance. When you know how much you are spending, you can start to look at ways to make some savings to your insurance covers by shopping around. This can sometimes save hundreds or even thousands of dollars across all the different insurance covers.

Don't let another year slip by without getting your personal finances under control. Start with these three questions and get expert help if you need.

This read is not financial advice.

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