This year, it’s interesting to see MoneySmart Week falling in the same time as the lead-up to the Federal Election. Both major parties are under scrutiny for their ‘smarts’ when it comes to budgets, as are Aussies.
Launched in 2012, MoneySmart Week is a government initiative encouraging Australians to knock their finances into shape. It starts September 1 to coincide with spring – a time when many of us start thinking about getting into shape for summer. We can shape up our finances as well.
But do governments have the smarts needed to advise on the habits of everyday Australians? It seems they just might.
Structure and cash flow
How many times have you heard the advice “keep a household budget” or “write down everything you spend”? This can’t be stressed enough and it seems MoneySmart Week is all over this point. The family budget is like a business and may even have the highest turnover of which you’re ever in charge.
Even something like MoneySmart Week is more thought out than a few clever flyers and some sage advice. The Australian Financial Literacy Board oversees the project followed by a campaign director with CEO responsibilities. They provide strategic advice on the direction and delivery for MoneySmart Week.
All this for one week? Ongoing family budgets could take some inspiration from that.
Reporting on your changes
The importance of monitoring how money changes affect your financial position can also be highlighted during MoneySmart Week. The initiative is an example of how to follow up on the success of your ideas. In 2012, this showed some interesting results for Australians.
One of the most surprising insights from the 2012 results was the fact that 7 per cent of people admit they have no idea where their money goes. And the proportion is the same across all income groups.
Meanwhile, 58 per cent of people have a financial goal and 48 per cent of people who aren’t yet retired save on a regular basis. That’s not bad, but it means half of us could be doing better.
What’s scary is that around 15 per cent of people in debt are struggling or in trouble, and those under 25 who have debt are most likely to make only minimum repayments. If you discover yourself to be in this group, start changing and monitoring your habits this year.
Find out about your own health
Australians are again being encouraged to give themselves a money health check during MoneySmart Week, using the online tool available on the website.
Financial advice personality Paul Clitheroe says, “Understanding money helps individuals, families and businesses work towards their goals and secure their financial wellbeing, as well as managing financial stress should it arise.
“MoneySmart Week is a week when we can take stock and take the first steps towards a better financial life! It is designed to raise awareness of the programs and support already available and motivate people to take positive action.”
As we march toward the election, we’ll be hearing more about budgets and money and how to make our dollar go further. These issues can win favour, votes and hearts. Yet the budgets we can control should be our first priority – all within our own households.
Visit MoneySmart Week for more information and to complete a money health check.
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