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Sort my finances

Finances giving you a headache?
Take the five minute check today
 
 Certainly do. I know exactly where my money goes each week
 Not as closely as I probably should

Your Result:

Awesome. Knowing where you money goes today is the first step to making changes for tomorrow. 

Suggestions:

You could take your money tracking to the next level, by forecasting where your current spending and savings levels will get you in one month, one year and one decade from now.

If those projections won’t get you where you want when you want, think about which non-essentials you can do without. 

Your result:

Whether or not you’re saving well, tracking your expenses today could help you do better tomorrow.

Tracking your expenses helps you uncover your money blind spots - if you don’t know where your money goes, you can’t make changes or find ways to stop it disappearing.

Suggestions:

You could try the 50 / 30 / 20 Rule (or a formula that works for your situation):

  • Spend 50% of your income on needs 
  • 30% on wants; and 
  • 20% on savings. 

You could also try setting up a savings transfer automatically, along with automatic payments or direct debits for all your bills and other regular living expenses. But withdrawing the money for your wants in cash. When it runs out, you’re done.  

Tools that can help:

Money apps are increasingly common and can be very helpful in handling your finances. We’ve reviewed some of the best here.

Tools that can help:

To start tracking your spending, try the apps we’ve reviewed in this article.

 
 I have some credit card/store card debt
 No, I’m completely debt free
 I've got debt, but it is good debt (student loan and home loan)

Your Result:

You’re not alone. New Zealanders paid $22.9 billion in interest on credit card debt in 20161

A few small simple changes to the way you treat your debts could see you debt-free in time.

Recommendation:

One of the ways to get your debts under control is to start by writing them all down, including the totals. Consider putting the overall total on the fridge or on a blackboard wall at home and mark it down as it reduces.

Visualising your debt will not only remind you of it, but help motivate you as you watch it shrink before your eyes.

Once you know the extent of your debts, decide how you’ll pay them off:

  • Highest interest rate to lowest; or
  • Snowball method (smallest debt first to get some success under your belt and gain momentum).

 

1http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/88595201/canstar-reveals-kiwis-massive-credit-card-interest-bill

Your result:

Excellent effort – being able to save any additional income each week rather than use it for repayments will help you out in a big way in the future.

Your result:

Home loans and student loans are considered ‘good’ because they are used to purchase something of financial value (a house or earning potential in the future).

By limiting your debt exposure to just good debt, you’re doing well. 

Suggestions:

Good or bad, it’s still debt – so chip away at it as fast as you can because the quicker you pay it off, the more you could save.

Here’s a couple of reasons why you might want to consider doing more than the minimum repayments.

Student Loans:

  1. Even though most student loans in New Zealand are interest free, sometimes it just feels better to be debt free. Plus, you get more of your pay each week once your loan is done.
  2. If you go overseas for more than six months, you’ll start paying interest on it. 
  3. Some lenders take your student loan debt into consideration when you apply for new lending.

Mortgage:

  1. You’ll save a huge amount of money in interest payments. The median sale price of a home in NZ now believed to be more $495,000 - but the interest paid on a 30-year mortgage puts the real cost at around $760,000 (assuming interest rates of 5% and a 20% deposit – calculations from sorted.org.nz).
  2. You’ll have more equity in your own home to use for other borrowing or investments.

You could do this by rounding up your payments, changing the frequency of your payments to fortnightly or by making voluntary one off payments.

Tools that can help:

If your debts are overwhelming, see if your financial adviser or your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you consolidate your debts.

Tools that can help:

Living debt free gives you more freedom in your life. Consider how you'll put your money to good use. Some suggestions include:

  • buying a home;
  • investing in shares;
  • save for your retirement via KiwiSaver;
  • enjoying your retirement. 

Talk to a financial adviser about options that can suit your situation. 

Tools that can help:

Sorted.org.nz has a great mortgage calculator and the IRD can help you work out how early repayments can slash time off your student loan.

 
 No, why do I need that?
 Yes, about three months worth
 Yes, and more than three months too

Your Result:

Keeping three months living expenses in a safe, accessible account is a good safety net should things go wrong with your work, your home or your health. 

Examples could include:

  • A medical event;
  • A large unexpected bill; or
  • A redundancy

The emergency fund is your safety cushion. It should cover all your living costs and mortgage or rent payments for three months. 

Suggestions:

Start by deciding how much you want to put away in your emergency fund. While we suggest three months, more, or less might suit your situation. 

Now look at your budget and work out how much you can put away each week.

Your result:

Awesome!

Emergencies being emergencies and all, it pays to keeps those funds as readily accessible as possible. So talk to a financial adviser about the best place to keep it - in a bank account, in laddered term deposits or other investment products with an easy withdrawal process. 

Suggestions:

In addition to your emergency fund, consider adding a second safety net by taking out redundancy insurance. If you're made redundant, you could make a claim for some of your lost income meaning you might not need to tap into your emergency fund.

Your result:

We’re impressed – you understand the importance of an emergency fund and have already saved the money. 

Suggestions:

Now that you have an emergency fund that is accessible should life throw its worst at you, you could consider investing the spare income that has contributed to the emergency fund in other areas.

Investing in KiwiSaver or other savings products can help to grow your money. Although, with any investment, the value can fluctuate and there are no guarantees in relation to returns. 

Tools that can help:

Sorted.co.nz/tools has plenty of tips about how to be smarter with your budgeting.

Tools that can help:

If you're going to keep your emergency fund in a bank account, check out the best bank returns at interest.co.nz.

Tools that can help:

If you do decide to to invest, it's best to speak to a financial adviser.

Chat with an Adviser

If you’re ready to get some help for your financial Tomorrow, talk to a financial Adviser Today. They can help you plan for retirement, choose an investment strategy that’s right for you and help protect you and your family financially.

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The generic questions asked in this Financial Fitness Check aim to identify ways that you could improve your finances. The questions don’t take into account your financial knowledge or your actual financial situation.  

The results and suggestions given in the Financial Fitness Check are of a general nature and are not intended to constitute or replace financial or other professional advice.  To the extent that the information constitutes advice, it is class advice only.  You should consider whether the suggestions offered are appropriate for you before acting on them, and we recommend that you speak to a financial Adviser and read any relevant product information carefully.

For personal financial advice, we recommend you contact your Adviser or if you don't have an Adviser, contact us on 0800 267 263 and we can put you in touch with one. A disclosure statement is available from your Adviser, on request and free of charge.

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