New Year’s resolution to tackle finances? Here’s a guide to get you started

Co-author: Michelle Norton 

Delaying personal financial planning is often a side effect of living a busy modern lifestyle. But a little extra time spent on your finances this year will be worth its weight in gold.

Hopefully, we didn’t lose you at personal financial planning, but there’s no denying hanging out at the beach or the pub will float your boat much more than reviewing your bills. But by creating a financial plan in 2020, you might gain fresh insight into how much procrastination is costing you and find easy steps to help save you money over the coming year.

Financial planning tip 1: Review personal loans

Chances are you’ve had the same bank account products for quite a while now. However, if you aren’t regularly checking rates and offers available in the market, you risk missing out on taking advantage of good deals. Personal loans are just one example of this. Part of smart financial planning stems from the old adage that knowledge is power. Researching personal loan rates available on the market means you can swap to a better rate. Or, you might even be able to negotiate a better deal from your current provider. After all, your business is valuable to financial providers, so they won’t want to lose you if they can help it. If the thought of negotiating makes your stomach churn, have a look at Canstar’s tips on asking banks for better deals.

Financial planning tip 2: Review your credit cards

Instead of turning your credit card statements into paper planes, here’s a novel idea: check what’s actually written on them – including checking your fees and rates. Or, if you’re doing everything online, why not download your bank’s app, so you can regularly check in with your spending?

Compare Credit Cards

Don’t forget about annual fees on your credit card, too, which can range from nothing to over $1,000 a year. For many people, a key part of creating a financial plan is reviewing the financial products they already have, such as credit cards, and checking if there’s a better value option available. Consider account features, as well as fees and rates, when deciding on a credit card.

Compare credit cards with Canstar

Financial planning tip 3: Compare insurance premiums

Just as with credit cards, price should not be the only motivating factor for switching insurance providers – features and policy inclusions are also important. To help you choose an insurance provider – whether that’s for car insurance, home and contents or health insurance – Canstar asks New Zealanders to rate their level of satisfaction with the provider they use. Using Canstar’s customer satisfaction ratings will help you to choose a provider that suits your needs. This, on top of doing your own homework on insurance product prices, will help you get on track with your financial plan.

Financial planning tip 4: Review KiwiSaver investments

KiwiSaver is a long-term investment, but that doesn’t mean it should be set and forget. Make sure you’re happy with your choice of KiwiSaver product in terms of fees and investment performance.

Compare KiwiSaver products

After all, an extra 1% a year on your KiwiSaver could enable you to have a much more comfortable retirement – or a greater pot of money to tap into for your first home! Reviewing your KiwiSaver provider and fund should definitely be added to your financial planning list this year!

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