Regain control of your finances
It's time for a check-up. No, not one of those where you have to go to the doctor, but something just as important for your future: a money health check.
Next week is MoneySmart Week, which aims to improve financial literacy. You can check the state of your money using the handy calculator and other tools at moneysmart.gov.au.
And before you start thinking you're way too smart for all that, consider some of the statistics that came out of the health check last year, the first year it was available online. Apparently, 7 per cent of people admitted they have "no idea" where their money goes. I find that a little surprising. Money doesn't just fly out of your wallet, or perhaps it does.
MoneySmart week campaign director Rebecca Glenn was also intrigued. "That was the one that interested me most," she says. "It kind of doesn't matter your income level; there are some kinds of habits people get into regardless of income."
That figure was the same, regardless of the age group. But there was some positive news to be taken from the data as well. More than half the people who completed the money check, or 58 per cent, said they had a financial goal. Those goals were as diverse as saving for something, while others were paying down debt.
Unfortunately, there are still plenty of people who find it difficult to get out of financial trouble. Of the people who took part, 15 per cent said they were struggling, or in real trouble, with their debts.
It was the younger generation - those under 25 - who were the most likely group to say they made only minimum repayments. The difference between paying the minimum repayment and maybe an additional $50 or $100 each month could save you thousands of dollars in interest. A little pain now, more gain later.
In an encouraging sign, almost half the people who completed the check, or 48 per cent, went on to do something such as print or email a copy of the report or save the results to their online action plan. "No matter what stage you are at, you will get those five next steps," she says.
"Basically, you've got a little action plan there. It might be project for the next month or several months."
I'm a big fan of the moneysmart.gov.au website. It has so much information on not only getting your finances in order, but also what to look out for when it comes to tricky money products and how to make sure companies you deal with are legit.
So use this week and next to make at least one step in the right direction of financial literacy. Your future self will thank you for it.