Thursday, March 29, 2012

SMG indahouse yo! Back blogging again =)

I'm baaaaack! Oh alright, back to posting semi-regularly again. Back with a bang after my month long hiatus. March has been a crazy month. Feeling slightly burnt out but now I'm back on top of everything again.

* Called up my bank to increase the rates on my savings, got some **** about a new banking policy and the inability to increase the rates on my savings so it was Hasta La Vista to that savings account and I've just rolled over my funds to my brand spanking new account at a different institution where the rates are 5.41%pa with no limitations in regards to withdrawals or payments, compounded monthly. The perfect high interest transactional account. If you don't want my business, no problems!

The only downside is that it takes 4 days to transfer funds in and out so I lose 4 days interest due to the funds floating in cyberspace before they reach my other account.

* Left the bulk of my funds in the high interest savings account at 5.5%pa (base rate is 2.5%pa) but to qualify for 5.5%pa, I can only make one withdrawal per month so if I'm out by 1 day, my rates would drop to a paltry 2.5%pa so it's definitely not a transactional account. There are higher rates on term deposits but I'm unsure about when I'll be needing the funds for the house or the holidays.

* Haven't reviewed my stock portfolio in yonks because they're all invested in stable, profitable companies providing fundamental services. My banking stocks have been languishing ever since the GFC(like most financial stocks) but my resource stocks have surged due to the momentous interest in CSG (coal seam gas) lately. The breakdown of my stocks:

* Will be looking at combining my health insurance with my S.O so that instead of paying over $2k for private health insurance individually, we can cut that down to hopefully under $1.5k jointly

* Back to house hunting now that my weekends are relatively free again. House prices have been flatlining for a few months now and it'd great if they kept dropping...

* Found out that I'm afflicted with OCD over several things when my friend yelled at me telling me that I'm more OCD than a certain friend of ours who is super meticulous and organised >.<

* I rode 36km on my mountain bike a few weekends ago and my cycling buddies are aiming to increase the distance - wasn't even sore after that so my fitness has improved. Hoping to increase my exercise and fitness more...

* Our friends and I are to plan our lavish trip around Europe woo hoo. The goal is to travel for 5 weeks, enjoy the culture, the food, the museums, the shopping, visit family and friends in the UK&France, go bike riding in the countryside, eat freshly baked bread, visit the markets, check out the touristy spots in every country we visit and visit offbeat towns away from the tourist hotspots. We've been told that Germany has no speed limit and the average driving speed is 150-200km/h. That's going to shock us considering the maximum speed here is 110km/h

* Have been dining out way too frequently and buying take away for dinners so now that my time is free again, I'm planning to cook nutricious home meals again. In February, I had a stomach ache for 4 consecutive days after dining out all day and night for 4 days straight with minimal veggies and fruit in my diet

* Now that I'm done spending in huge lump sum amounts these recent few months, I can look at saving as much as possible prior to buying a house so that the mortgage amount won't be as terrifying. Each dollar in mortgage loan means repaying back $2.50-$3.00. Sounds small but think about it this way- borrowing each $100,000 means paying back principal & interest approx $250,000 to $300,000. Which amount would you prefer to pay back yo?

I'd rather save that extra $10,000 today than repay $25,000 to $30,000 worth in interest + principal later. Easy peasy decision.

Everything is swell (except for the dodgy lady in the bakery that gave me an old banana slice instead of the fresh ones- you've lost my business too).

All in all, life is sweet and I'm looking forward to 2012!! What's even better is that we are dining at Rockpool tonight and that's one of the dining destinations on my list of places to eat at- yay!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Personal finance tips to help you get back on track

If you have been struggling with money or having debt problems, it can be hard to figure out how to get your personal finances back on track. Here are a few tips to get you started:

If you have a bit of spare money every month, save it. Work out how much you can realistically spare and arrange for that amount to automatically go into a savings account as soon as you get paid. That way you won't miss it as much. Just make sure you don't commit yourself to anything too ambitious and unrealistic.

Don't save
Conversely, if you are still in debt, it's beneficial to pay as much towards these as possible. This is because debts usually grow faster than savings; often much faster due to the higher interest rates charged on debts. It is therefore preferable to try and get these out of the way before you think about creating savings.

Sleep on it
Getting your finances back on track essentially revolves around only spending as much as you absolutely have to. Pay for your mortgage, rent, bills, food, etc., and try to put the rest towards any debts you may owe, or into a savings account. So if you find yourself wanting to buy something you don't strictly need, sleep on it. This will help you decide whether it's really worth it.

Make a budget
Knowing how much you receive every month, and how much you spend, can help you understand and amend your spending habits. A good budget can show you where most of your money goes, and areas you can cut down on. If you don't know how to create a budget, there are many tools online that can help you. There are also bank accounts available that manage your essential and disposable income, helping you ensure you don't chip into your bill money by accident.

It can help to look out for money saving tips wherever you can to avoid getting into debt. Think Money could be a good place to start

Debt solutions (UK)
If you feel like your unsecured debts have got out of hand, you may want to consider a debt solution. There are many debt solutions available, such as debt management, debt consolidation, IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements) and DROs (Debt Relief Orders). Facing your debt can be intimidating, but talking to a professional can help you decide what step to take next, and whether you need professional debt help or not. It's also a good way to find out the positive and negative impact this could have on you.

Debt solutions (Australia & US)
Plenty of US bloggers cite Dave Ramsay as a good place to start in terms of dealing with debts. As for Australians, you can visit the link above as a place to start learning about how to control, manage and pay down your debts.