Taking control of your finances

Get back in the black with our guide to the ins and outs of finance. In association with Westpac.
Finance special Westpac

Plan for your financial future with our easy guide for getting back in the black.

Ask for help

There’s no shame in not knowing all the ins and outs of finance. But ignoring issues because you don’t understand them isn’t going to do you or your bank balance any favours. It’s important to find someone who’ll make you accountable if you don’t have the tools or resources to keep your finances in check. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help from family or friends who are financially savvy, or taking the opportunity to sit down with a financial adviser. When choosing an adviser, look for someone you can relate to and feel comfortable asking what you think are “silly” questions. You want someone who will take the time to get to know you before they start giving you any advice or suggesting products. And don’t be afraid to ask for their qualifications and experience.

Review your financial relationships

It’s very common for people to stay with the same bank for more decades than they would care to remember. Always review your bank and the accounts you have with them. Don’t just rollover a term deposit with the same institution year after year. The same applies to your utilities. Do some research and see if you’re getting the best deal possible. Most companies will offer you a better rate to retain your business.

Asking for a discount may not feel comfortable, but it can help save you hundreds.

Don’t always pay full price

While asking for a discount at the counter might not be the most comfortable thing to do, it can save you hundreds. With most clothing stores, bargaining is difficult and not part of the usual culture, but when it comes to white goods and electrical products, there’s no harm in asking.

Curb wasteful spending

While that $4 morning coffee might not seem like a splurge, regular small luxuries can amount to a big spend over the course of a year. To tackle this resolution, you first need to understand where you actually spend your money. If you don’t keep track of what you’re spending week in, week out, you’re going to be in the same position every single month – where you’re left wondering where all your hard-earned money has gone. To gain a better understanding, create two buckets. The first is what you need to spend now, such as rent, mortgage payments or money to buy food. The second is what you need to spend for the future, which will include your contributions to KiwiSaver. The money that doesn’t fall into those two buckets is your budget for treats such as coffees, a pay TV subscription or money towards a holiday.

Stop treating

There’s no greater feeling than being able to treat your loved ones, but how much is it costing you? More than just picking up the tab for dinner, your generosity could extend to helping the kids with their first home loan. It’s great to want to help, but you should remember that your kids are probably earning far more than you ever did. There are more ways to help your kids and grandkids besides handing over cash, such as helping them get a foot on the property ladder by being their guarantor. Or why not invest with them? By having a share in your child’s house, you’re not only helping the kids out, but making an investment too.

Instead of handing cash over to help your children buy a home, consider being their loan guarantor.

In association with Westpac

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