Friday, February 18, 2011

Peform monthly or fortnightly financial health checks for optimum results

Everyone should perform a financial health check at least once a month, if not fortnightly.

The benefits are vast:

1) You can see what bills need to be paid, what you've paid, tally up any expenses if you track them and update accounting or financial management software if you use them
2) If you have a budget then you can see how your actual income and expenditure measures up against your budgeted ones
3) If you've got savings in high interest accounts, in term deposits or whatever, then you can have a quick hunt around to see if there are better rates on offer, negotiate for them with your existent bank or set up new accounts and transfer your funds into them
4) You can check to see if you've been meeting your liabilities and have been making payments against outstanding debts
5) If you've got funds in transactional accounts not earning any interest, then move them into a high interest account
6) If you've got debts or bills to pay, you can figure out how you're going to allocate your income to pay them, instead of waiting until the due date comes around and then panicking about how to pay them

Recently I just performed mine. It involves doing the following:

1) Checking the interest rates on my online saving accounts and ensuring that I'm receiving a competitive rate on my savings
2) Pay my bills, check for future bills that may be forthcoming, check my expenditure for the month, compare with previous month and if I can be bothered, compare with last years
3) Recurring bills such as insurances, checking to see other offers out there and requesting or changing to something more competitive if I can't get a better deal
3) Finding out the balance of my superannuation retirement funds, the balance of my HECS student debt, checking the market value of my portfolio of stocks (although the iphone Bloomberg app is fantastic for this - it will automatically update the prices whenever I'm on the WiFi)
4) Check the social events that are coming up and the gifts that I have to buy (birthdays, baby showers, special events) or give (most wedding gifts require money to be given as gift since most couples are already living together)

The results of my recent financial health check:

1) (good) Savings account were good, all up for 2011
2) (good) Interest and dividend incomes were good, also all up for 2011

3) (good) Stock portfolio was good (capital gains), up for 2011

4) (good) Superannuation retirement fund was good, also up for 2011

5) (good) Expenses for Jan/Feb 2011 was down from Jan/Feb 2010, which is good

6) (good) Investment loan liability balance for Feb 2011 is down from Feb 2010, which is good

7) (stable) My HECS student debt is pretty flat, have been contemplating making another lump sum payment in April. I had the plan to make an additional lump sum payment in April off my HECS / HELP debt to drop the balance to 30% (ie have 70% paid off)
8) (good) Net wealth balance is up comparing Feb 2010 versus Feb 2011, which is good

No Euro trip for 2011, bummer:

Unfortunately the Euro trip will have to be for 2012 instead. It turns out, I barely have any annual leave days left after burning through so many days in 2010. So as a result, the 2011 savings/funds will be utilised in four possible ways:

1) Lending some to my friend to buy the replacement car since it was my fault that we were in that region when the guy wrote off the car and the insurance payout is insufficient for buying a replacement
2) Spending some on a snow trip somewhere, either Australia or New Zealand
3) Buying the investment property or
4) Doing nothing and buying some(all) toys on my wish list

Note on Jan/Feb 2010 vs Jan/Feb 2011 - I had a lot of one off expenditures in Jan/Feb 2010 which I didn't fortunately have to incur for Jan/Feb 2011. Expenditures such as passport renewal, prepaying for tickets etc for our trip to Japan and Hong Kong, medical expenses. I got really gouged by medical expenses last year to the tune of $3,314 and wrote two post on medical bills:
* Navigating our health insurance
* Poor health can send you broke

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