Smart money moves for financial independence

Reaching true financial independence takes commitment and patience.

You need to make smart money choices consistently; on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to see your net worth grow over time.

Set goals, budget, kill debt, save and accelerate your wealth by investing. Get these basics right and with a good dose of patience, you’ll be on your way to financial freedom.

Set your money goals

Financial independence is a great goal, but you need to break this process down into smaller goals. Decide what you’d like to achieve financially short term, mid-term and long term. A short term goal may be paying off credit cards, medium term may be saving to buy a car and long term goals for could be paying off a home and retiring comfortably.

Money goals need to be SMART and if you want to increase your chances of achieving them, write them down.

Budget

Financial success comes with a plan and your budget is that plan. With a budget, you know exactly what money is coming in and going out. You might think it’s a fun-sucking, financial ball and chain but the truth is a budget gives you a real sense of freedom and security.

Find a budgeting system that works for you. Maybe you prefer the old school envelope system or an app like YNAB — You Need A Budget; this app has a serious cult-like following!

Kill debt

Debt seriously threatens your financial security. Having debt means you don’t call the shots about your money, your lenders do. Paying it off frees up your cash, reduces stress and fewer bills makes managing your finances a lot simpler. Snowballing your debt repayments is a popular approach to tackling debt and a good place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Build an emergency fund

An emergency fund covers any unplanned financial expenses; think car repairs and medical expenses. A buffer of cash stashed away means you won’t rely on credit cards to cover unexpected emergencies, keeping you from sliding back into the debt cycle. To start, aim to save $1000 in your emergency fund. Some super savers build their fund to eventually cover 6 months of living expenses.

Begin investing early

One of the most effective ways to build wealth over time is investing. It’s a smart idea to make extra contributions to your superannuation for long term security while building a share portfolio.

Superannuation

Your superannuation is one big investment portfolio setting you up for retirement. Your super is pooled together with other members of your superannuation fund and invested on your behalf by investment managers. In most cases this money is on lockdown until you retire; riding out short-term dips in the economy. Super contributions are made by your employer and you can top this up yourself via salary sacrificing. There are also bonus government contributions available for low income earners. According to 2015 research by the ATO, 45% of working Australians have multiple super accounts; meaning multiple fees are eating into retirement savings. Sound familiar? Make it your mission to consolidate super into a single account.

Investing

Growing your own share portfolio also steps you towards financial security. Unlike superannuation, shares can be sold at any time; your money is easily accessible and investors may be eligible for dividend payments. Impact investing is also possible for those keen to use their money to support businesses aligning with their social and environmental ethics. You’ll feel the direct impact of market conditions if your investment goals are short-term but mid to long term, like super, your investments will ride out market cycles. You don’t need a bunch of money to get in the game; start with FirstStep and begin your portfolio with small investments. With the minimum investment of just $1 and non-committal contributions, you can get started while you’re clearing debt and saving for an emergency fund. When your cash frees up, you can begin to invest more.

References:

ASIC Money Smart: Salary Sacrificing

ATO: Government Super Contributions

ATO: Australians losing thousands in super fee annually

Dave Ramsey: The Envelope System Explained

Dave Ramsey: How The Debt Snowball Method Works

Disclaimer
FirstStep is licensed to operate in Australia and is owned and operated by FirstStep Investments Australia Pty Ltd (ACN 612 834 947) — Authorised Representative of Primestock Securities Ltd, AFSL 239180. Any information contained on this page is general information only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should not rely on any information contained in this page and before making any investment decision, we recommend that you consider the appropriateness of its content having regard to your needs and financial situation. The relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) should also be obtained and considered before making a decision about any financial product.