“We’re grappling with a global pandemic, recession, surging unemployment and uncertainty about when – and if –things will return to normal.”
But there are steps you can take to keep your finances as strong as possible.
“It’s more important than ever to start the new year  on the right foot, adapt to our changed reality and make our money do some of the heavy lifting for us,” Baker says.
Follow these steps to keep your bank balance as fighting fit as possible …
SET YOUR GOALS
As with any fitness program, the key to success is all about taking manageable steps to set yourself up for long-term results. None of those short-term fixes!
Whether it’s a new house, car or planning for that overseas holiday you want to take next year, it helps to set tangible goals that you can work towards.
“What are your dreams?” Baker asks. “Knowing what you’re aiming for will allow you to focus.”
TARGET KEY AREAS
Next, take an inventory of all of your expenses and break them into sections. How much budgeting do you need to do for bills? What about holidays? What is left for savings and investments?
“Just like you would use different weights on different areas of your body, breakdown how much you want to spend,” Baker says. “Allocate the heavy lifting to the important areas.”
MAINTAIN GOOD HABITS
Most of us have altered our spending habits over the past few months, so if you’ve found that you’ve actually been saving money, aim to keep up the good work post-lockdown and pandemic.
“Run through your list to see which ones you can continue to keep, such as cooking at home rather than buying food for lunch every day,” Baker suggests.
BEEF UP YOUR SUPER
“Superannuation is an important safety net for us all once we’re no longer working. And there are benefits to stashing any surplus cash into your super now,” Baker says.
“Firstly, there are generous tax incentives for making additional contributions. There’s also the ‘carry forward’ rule that effectively allows you to catch up on periods when your income, and hence super contributions, may have been lessened – such as losing your job or going onto JobKeeper or JobSeeker.”
PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED
“Protect what you’ve built with the right insurances – private health insurance, general insurance and personal insurances,” Baker advises. “Make sure you have enough insurance for you and your partner, or else you may find yourself in some trouble.”
It’s also important to be mindful of any insurance through super you might have, especially if you’re planning on consolidating your funds.
“Do not rollover your superannuation until you have fixed the insurance levels you need because you may not get cover elsewhere,” Baker adds. “Once it’s rolled over, you’ve lost it.” Consider it added to the to-do list!
Give your piggy bank a health check. When it comes to saving for the future, every bit counts.
REVIEW YOUR HOUSEHOLD BILLS
“You could be getting cheaper insurance, utilities and other services just by shopping around,” Baker says. “Review your subscriptions – I’d put money on the fact you’re paying for at least one subscription you no longer use.”
CLAIM YOUR WFH EXPENSES
If you’re new to working from home, you may be surprised by what you can deduct. “Don’t forget to claim your working from home expenses,” adds Baker. “An accountant can be a worthwhile investment.”
Consider enlisting a shopping buddy that you can go halves with on bulk items. “Sharing bulk purchases with your sister or friend or mum can halve your overall spend and reduce wastage,” Baker suggests.
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Any advice provided is general advice and does not take your personal circumstances into consideration. Please read the Stella product disclosure statement (PDS) available at stellainsurance.com.au, for the terms, conditions, and exclusions before purchasing this insurance. Stella Underwriting (ABN 72 633 811 319) is an Authorised Representative (AR 001282046) of Allstate Insurance Pty Ltd (AFSL 239010) which is acting under an agreement on behalf of the product issuer, QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited (AFSL 239545).