If you don’t ask, you’ll never find out! When it comes to money, do you like to take a head-on (assertive) or head-in-the-sand (afraid) approach? If the latter is more likely, don’t worry  — you’re not alone.  

This can stem from a range of factors – whether it’s the money scripts we grew up with, our existing beliefs about wealth, cultural or family pressures, lack of access to resources or even simply not knowing where to begin 

To be fair, money can be a very intimidating topic to discuss — especially when terms like ‘household debt’, ‘capital gains tax’ and ‘compound interest’ get thrown in the mix. But in order to become financially fit, you need to bite the bullet and start asking the tricky questions. 

To help you get the ball rolling, we’ve answered four of those too-embarrassed-to-ask questions for you: 

  1. How do I ask for a salary pay rise at work?

Just the thought of asking for a pay rise is enough to make anyone nervous, but approaching the subject with your employer shouldn’t be a nerve-wracking experience. It should be an empowering effort, as advocating for your own worth as an employee is one of the most important things you can do in the work place. If you’re feeling reluctant on how to ask for a pay rise, you should prepare the discussion and business case to the best of your ability before calling a meeting with your boss.  

Don’t be afraid to pick a number and stick to it. Do your research and know your market value – there are dozens of sites available from salary comparison calculators to job-seeker platforms providing estimate figures of what your role might be worth elsewhere. From there, you’ll be able to more confidently negotiate a figure that you’re happy with. 

  1. How can I improve my credit card debt?

Debt is one of those things that nobody likes to talk about, despite the fact that just about everyone has it. Australia has some of the highest household debt per-capita in the world; with 2021 stats reporting that Australians owe over $45 billion in credit card debt alone. If you’re struggling with your repayments, there are some simple methods that you can start applying to help you get on top of your repayments.   

First, start working out how many credit cards you have and how much debt you are owing on each card. From here, you can pinpoint which cards require the most urgent repayments and work towards paying these off first. The sooner you get on top of your credit card debt, the quicker your credit rating will start to improve and the more confident you’ll feel continuing on. 

Top tip: Always keep percentages in mind. Once you feel like you have your credit card repayments under control, try to avoid using over 30% of your credit card limit. A cash savings buffer is always a preferable alternative to putting emergency funds on credit. 

  1. What does a realistic personal budget actually look like? 

Budgeting is one of the best ways to take immediate control of your finances, yet creating a budget is something that many people struggle to build and commit to consistently. The secret to effective and realistic budgeting lies in setting up reachable budgeting goals, and not giving up after small mistakes or set-backs.  

When outlining your finances for the first time, it’s important to first recognise whether you’re spending less or more than you can afford – and living below your means. This will allow you to direct your income to the areas where it matters most (like your bills and home repayments) and evaluate where you can cut costs. 

When allocating and prioritising your money flow, you can check if you have extra money to spare after your monthly expenses. If you do have the extra funds left over, you can choose to put that into a savings account, make extra superannuation payments or even look into investing. If you’re spending more than you can afford, analyse your budget and figure out any unnecessary costs that you can reduce.  

If you’re struggling, you can always contact a professional financial advisor for advice and support. 

  1. Can I take money out of my super before I retire?

If you’ve been actively contributing money to your superannuation on a regular basis — you probably have a fairly hefty figure building up in your superannuation account. You’ve probably also been tempted in times of financial strife to dip into that cash pool before your retirement age. While it may seem like an embarrassing question to ask, it’s a very viable one.  

Can you actually take money out of your superannuation fund before you retire? In most cases, the answer is no. Your super is designed to stay secure until your reach your preservation age — currently between the ages of 55 to 60, depending on when you were born.  

However, under current Australian law — provided that you meet strict eligibility criteria and if your super fund allows it — you might be able to access your superannuation money if you are faced with severe financial hardship, have to pay for medical treatment or if you suffer permanent or temporary injury that prevents you from working. If you do choose to access your super prior to turning 60, you may also have to pay additional tax on the payments you receive. 

 

Disclaimer: 

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.