The future can be daunting to think about sometimes. In the COVID-19 pandemic era, the weight of life’s pressures can feel a little overwhelming at times – especially when it comes to our finances.
Getting into positive money habits early and staying clued-in with your bank account balance is an essential part of maintaining a positive financial outlook. It’s the smaller steps now that’ll likely impact the trajectory of all your wealth long-term, so it’s important to make sure you’re giving yourself the best chance for success that you can.
If this all seems stressful to start with, no need to worry! There are surprisingly simple ways to cut ties with toxic money habits, set up positive ones, and educate yourself on how to set yourself up for a financially-supported future, so here’s a further look into what that might entail.
Here’s four of the least helpful habits to cut ties with, the sooner the better:
- Ignoring your super
Your superannuation is probably the first money-related thing we all tend to ignore, because we don’t have to acknowledge its presence on a day-to-day basis. It’s out of sight, and for most of us, out of mind as well. It’s the epitome of an “I’ll worry about it later” problem, when in reality, keeping tabs on your super is important.
Looking for which super fund you’re happy to go with is the best way to kick things off. Take a look at their ethos as a company, what they’re investing in (Do you believe in what they’re using your money for? Are they investing ethically and sustainably?) and check out their fees and charges. Do your research to choose a superfund that matches your ethics and profession, as well as checking fees, insurance, costs and investment risk profiles.
It’s also worth checking whether you’ve got multiple superannuation funds if you’ve changed jobs several times (if your employer super fund was recommended and you didn’t supply your own). Having multiple super accounts can lead to double ups on fees and lower overall gains over time, but thankfully it’s remarkably easy to consolidate it into one account through the Australian Tax Office website.
In short, superannuation is one of the simplest ways to invest in your future self, so ensuring it’s in good hands is a huge factor in setting yourself up early.
- Using credit as your emergency back-up
For anyone thinking of what resources they have to fall back on if any unexpected emergencies come up, this one can be extra dicey. Credit cards can be a risky issue if you’re not financially responsible enough to use one, and especially when falling back on them as a plan B when things go awry. The money you spend on a credit card will eventually becomes debt you need to pay off – it’s essentially like taking out a loan to pay off expenses you can’t cover in the moment, which you will need to pay back sooner or later.
Paying off this debt becomes even more tricky when interest rates get involved, which inflates what you owe even further over time. Your credit score does have a bearing on your future ability to get a mortgage or take out any personal or business loans in the future, so keep this in mind.
- Overusing buy-now-pay-later platforms
The introduction of buy-now-pay-later services became an all-too-convenient path to online shopping when they first became widespread. But with the ease of purchasing, it’s remarkably easy to fall into dangerous money traps because they can make just about every potential purchase seem affordable and accessible in some capacity.
Missed or overdue payments can result in extra fees, interest charges, and depending on the provider and plan, can even impact a customer’s credit score. If you’re tempted to use a buy-now-pay-later service, it’s good practice to do so in moderation or as little as you can.
- Not keeping track of your subscriptions
Subscriptions can be sneaky. We’re so used to signing up for streaming services and apps on the regular that seeing a monthly $9.99 fee taken out of our accounts feels like nothing. Unfortunately, while this concept is nothing new, it all adds up over time.
Looking at your bank account balance regularly will help you keep tabs on whether subscription prices have changed or whether you’ve made an accidental in-app purchase you need to reverse. It’s all about the little transactions and purchases that add up to bigger expenses over time.
This article is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such. Before making any commitment of a legal or financial nature you should seek advice from a qualified and registered Australian legal practitioner or financial or investment advisor.