We use money to buy what we need and want, to pay back debt for needs and wants bought in advance as well as saving and investing. Budgets, knowing what we spend and being accountable for our spending, is critical to staying in control. This knowledge may not stop that next impulse purchase, but understanding where the money goes is a good step towards making a positive change for your finances. Small changes to your regular spending habits can make a big difference over time. Adding an extra $5 – $20 a week or fortnight to your savings, or repaying extra on your mortgage could save thousands over a few years. If you need help planning a budget then there is often advice on hand. Local banks are often happy to talk to their clients, working through the options that might work for you. They can show you ways to make the most of any surplus funds and can often help to consolidate any debts to lessen monthly financial commitments. Many banks also help with advice during financial hardship times, and can offer confidential guidance to their customers in difficult times such as deaths, divorces, disasters, unexpected expenses, and cash flow. And for tax advice you can turn to an accountant, tax agent, tax office or Financial Planner. Talking to your bank or asking for assistance from a financial advisor could help you plan for the future and lessen the financial strain if tough times arise.
Michelle Fairweather is the local Westpac Bank Manager, in Lithgow. With 25 years working in banking and 15 years in management roles she has literally helped thousands of people to achieve their financial goals. Please note that any advice she provides is general in nature and does not take your individual circumstances into account. You will need to decide if it meets your needs.