Money and financial commitments are a source of stress for many Australians. Stagnant wage growth, increasing living costs and an intimidating housing market make for uncertain times. Worrying about stress can impact you both mentally and physically, making it hard for you to sleep, relax and focus.
In fact, new research by Australian credit union, CUA, has found that ongoing financial stress is a leading cause for poor sleep habits, with an overwhelming fear of not being in control of our monthly expenses topping the list of our money worries.
Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, Financial Wellbeing spokesperson for CUA and Founder of Financy and the Women's Index, has some quick and easy ways to help get on top of the top 10 financial worries keeping you up at night.
Worry #1: Monthly expenses
Solution: create buckets
“To be more aware of what's coming in and out of your account each month, break it down into ‘buckets.’ For example, allocate a spending bucket for each the kids, house, renovations, bills, travel, leisure and then set a target amount for what’s left over. I suggest recording this information in a place where you can easily refer to it daily to help stay engaged and accountable.”
Worry #2: Home loan interest rate
Solution: Start asking questions
“Start by asking yourself, a partner or a friend, ‘what’s your interest rate on your mortgage?’ Benchmark these answers with one of the many finance comparison websites, such as finder.com.au and canstar.com.au, that allow you to compare lenders. If necessary, invest the time in contacting your financial institution to see if they can match or better the interest rates you’ve seen elsewhere, or break free of them all together. But remember before doing so that you need to know what exit fees or establishment fees may apply and weigh these against the overall benefit of making a change.”
Worry #3: debt
Solution: Do the worst-case scenario test
“It's easy to get carried away with debt in a very low interest rate environment. However, I encourage you to do the maths on what your monthly expenses might look like if interest rates doubled, or even tripled. Doing this can help you understand your limits before going overboard with debt. To help stay on track long-term, set realistic but ambitious goals and make plans to repay the debt overtime.”
Worry #4: Super balance
Solution: Set a ‘super date’
“When was the last time you checked your super fund? It might be worth penciling in a date to review your superannuation fund by making the most of time spent waiting for other things, such as waiting in line at the local cafe, or while you are catching public transport on your morning commute. The easiest way to check your super is by logging into your My Gov account. It will do most of the hard work for you by telling you what your Super balance is and how it has tracked over time. The best part? Your My Gov account can also track down any missing super you might still have in an older fund (for example from previous jobs) and can roll them into one for you.”
Worry #5: Cost of a full tank of petrol
Solution: Set alerts
“With the cost of petrol rising, try downloading an app or visiting the website Fuel Check. This site will provide you with alerts of all the petrol stations in your local area so you can make a bee-line for the cheapest.”
Worry #6: Minimum monthly credit card repayment:
“Ensure you don't miss your credit card repayment by setting up an automatic direct debit for at least the minimum amount each month. Some banks will disable your credit card even if you miss a $5 minimum monthly repayment.”
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