The 2018 theme for the International Women’s Day is Press for Progress, which means women everywhere are being asked to do their bit to press for gender parity.
But you don’t have to head to a march or start a hashtag to show your support. After all, big changes usually start in your own backyard! One of the ways in which you can #PressforProgress this International Women’s Day is by sorting out your personal finances.
And, here’s how to do it right.
5 Ways Women Can Take Control Of Their Money
Set a budget (a proper one)
Knowing how much you earn each week and how much you pay out in rent and utilities is one thing, but having a proper budget set out that tracks your spending and actually helps you plan out where your money goes each month is something different.
If you really want to start taking control of your finances, you have to start by knowing where you stand financially with an airtight budget. The good news is you don’t have to be an Excel whiz to keep track of your spending. There are so many great free money management apps like Wallet around to help you.
Take action: Set your budget or learn more about different methods of budgeting.
Pay yourself first
Once you’ve set out a budget, the next step is to start improving your money habits. One habit to start developing is to pay yourself first. This means allocating a certain amount of your paycheck to go towards your savings goals before you can even think about anything else.
This is a great way to make sure you’re prioritising your rainy day fund and giving yourself a savings cushion to fall back on in case of emergencies. The easiest way to do this is to set up automatic payments into your savings account, so you don’t even have to think about it.
Take action: Set up an automatic payment to your savings account. Don’t worry, you can surely spare 1% of your paycheck, can’t you? Or, set up a savings goal on Wallet.
Clear any lingering debt
Recent research revealed that, in Australia, where I’m based, more than 50% are nursing credit card debt. Of those, 37% shelled out for a big ticket item like a holiday or a new laptop, and 33% splurged on little luxuries like fashion and entertainment. Carrying these indulgences around as debt means you’re paying way more for them than you should be since the average credit card interest rate is up around 17.99%.
So make getting debt under control a financial priority, and start looking into strategies like a balance transfer credit card offer or debt consolidation loan if you’ve got debt to blast.
Take action: Learn how to choose the best debt payoff strategy that will work for you.
Review your finances
Staying on top of your money is not just about tracking how much is coming in and how much is going out. You should also take a look at your financial products, right from your bank account to your home loan and energy plan, and make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. Why? Because a dud interest rate or a needlessly high electricity bill can cost you big time.
For example, say you’re looking to take out a $30,000 loan to buy a new car. According to Mozo’s personal loan database, rates start at 4.74%, with an estimated monthly repayment of $563 a month over 5 years, but go up to 17.57% with a $755 monthly repayment. So by doing your homework, it’s not hard to shave a couple of hundred dollars off your bill.
Take action: Review all your bank accounts, loan accounts and subscription services. You can do this automatically by connecting your bank to Wallet or by importing your transaction history to the app.
Make plans and set goals for the future
Finally, don’t forget to look ahead to the future and ask yourself what your plans will be. Whether that means setting a savings goal or making extra contributions to your retirement fund, or even diving into the stock market to make your money work harder, now is the time to start thinking about where you want your money to be in one, five or ten years time.
Take action: Set your long-term goals on Wallet and let it help you achieve it.
Over to you
What are your tips and suggestions for women to get on track financially? What have we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Kirsty Lamont is a director and money expert at the financial comparison website Mozo. She is passionate about improving financial literacy in women, and is keen to help them whip their finances into shape by comparing financial products to find the best deals.