Have you been thinking about sorting your life admin but don’t know where to start?
You know, all those things you never get around to, but can make your life function so much smoother and less stressful? Like organising your tax, sorting important documents, understanding superannuation and the list goes on…
Here’s what you can do today to get your financial foundations right. Trust me, sorting out your life admin will make everyday life so much easier.
1. Organise your tax
I can’t believe the number of times people ask whether the ATO really cares if you’ve not done a tax return for a few years… hell yeah, they do.
Saying you’ve lost receipts or group certificates will not cut it. At the very least, you’ll get slugged with huge fines if they find you out. So put the effort in now.
That means chasing, sorting and filing deductible receipts and group certificates. Make sure you know your Tax File Number and keep it in a safe place. Gather documents for any investments and get banking records sorted.
Link your MyGov account to the ATO to fill in simple tax returns and use the tax office’s resource centre for specific information. It’s also worth hiring a tax agent to sort everything once and for all… their fees are tax deductible.
2. Sort your important documents
Have you ever thought if something happened to you would your loved ones be able to quickly find all the important documents? Investment details, insurance policies, will, house deeds, banking info, etc.
If your answer is “they couldn’t”, then do something about it… now.
Buy one of those handy expandable file from Officeworks and get collecting. Then, once you’re finished, tell your loved ones where to find it. You’ll feel a huge sense of relief and maybe your partner will sleep better at night.
3. Get on top of your financial position
Family finances don’t quite add up? Increasingly hard to make ends meet?
Go grab a budget template or download a mobile app and start filling it in. Separate fixed expenses to survive with variables like entertainment, travel, subscriptions, etc. Work out where the financial leakages you didn’t know about are and plug them. More on this here: How to plug financial leaks in your budget
Start with recording (on paper or on your phone) all your incidental expenses for a week… takeaway coffees, takeaway lunches, etc. Then look to see where you can improve.
Once the household budget is under control then start reviewing your investments or, if you haven’t any, maybe a plan to start building some wealth outside of just the equity in your house. Look at making an appointment with a financial adviser to review your portfolio or design a plan to start investing.
Get some referrals from friends, most banks have their own financial planners, or contact the Association of Financial Advisers for a recommendation.
4. Assess your insurances
Start with whether the level of cover is right because your circumstances could have changed.
Then ring up your provider and ask them to review your policy. Ask to see whether they’ve launched a policy that could provide better value for the same cover.
After getting a recommendation, contact a couple of competitors and ask for quotes from them. If you get a better offer go back to your provider and ask them to match, or, better it… it’s less hassle to stay put, but only if the value is there.
5. Slash bank fees and interest
Exactly how much do you pay in interest and fees to your bank in total. Add them up… loans, credit cards, transaction accounts… everything.
I reckon you’ll be amazed. No wonder the banks make big profits! Now start culling.
6. Read your will… or get one done
No-one likes thinking about dying… but guess what? It will happen. This is definitely a life admin task you can’t skip, even in death.
Making sure you have a proper will to reflect your financial circumstances and protecting loved ones is part of being a responsible adult who cares for others. And it has to be reviewed regularly to reflect your changed life circumstances.
It you don’t have a will… get one done. From a simple one bought online, through to sitting down with a lawyer for more complicated situations, just do it.
If you have a will but haven’t read it for a while, get it out and review whether it still complies with your wishes.
7. Understand your superannuation
Do you really understand your superannuation fund… how many you have, fees, performance, what investments options you’re in and how they compare? Remember your superannuation fund could turn into the most valuable investment you have so it’s worth looking at it closely.
Start by logging into your MyGov account see if you have any past super funds you’ve forgotten about. If so, consolidate them into one. Then get out your last superannuation statement and compare fees and returns using a comparative data site like Canstar or YourSuper.
Flip over your statement and find which investment options you’ve chosen. Are they still appropriate for your circumstances? If not, change them.
Once you’ve sorted through these seven life admin tasks, I guarantee you’ll feel so much more at ease.