The new year is upon us, and as we now enter the third week of 2020, it’s now time for many of the New Year Resolutions to be forgotten just as quickly as they were set. In an environment of record low interest rates, increasing property prices on the eastern seaboard of Australia, an historically weak Australian Dollar (AUD) and forecasts for property prices to appreciation throughout 2020, the new year could mark a great opportunity for many to get ahead.
This week we’ve outlined our top New Year Resolutions for Australian expats and residents for 2020, and the steps to take to ensure that you achieve them and can look back on 2020 as a successful year.
- Reduce your interest rate
The official cash rate in Australia, as set by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), is currently sitting at a record low rate of 0.75%, and analysts are expecting at least one further rate cut this year in 2020, which would take us down to 0.5%. We are now seeing home loan rates in the mid to high 2’s, and investor rates in the high 2’s, including those investment loans on offer to Australian expats across the globe. This could be an excellent year to be reviewing the interest rates you’re currently paying and exploring whether there could be an opportunity to refinance your loans.
Action Steps: The first step is to make a list of the interest rate/s you’re currently paying on your loans and outline the amounts of your outstanding mortgages. This will make it easier to calculate your monthly and/or annual savings that you could make by refinancing your loans. Once you’ve made a list of your loans and the associated interest rates, speak to your lender or mortgage broker to review what your refinancing options are and create a table of the annual savings that could be generated. You may be surprised at what a significant difference can be made by a slight reduction in your interest rate.
- Buy another investment property
The record low Australian Dollar (AUD) and forecasts for property prices to rise in Australia throughout 2020, is encouraging many Australian expats and other foreign buyers to look to Australia for their property investment destination of choice. If your goal is to buy your first investment property, or expand your property portfolio, be sure to set a clear goal for your purchase price, and outline exactly how much you’ll need to save to cover your deposit and your purchase costs.
Action Steps: Once you have a clear outline of how much you’d like to spend on your property, you can quickly calculate how much you’ll need to save for your deposit and the purchase costs. Once you have calculated the target figure, you can outline your monthly or weekly savings strategy to achieve this goal. We would recommend automating your regular savings strategy into a separate account to avoid unnecessary overspending, which could force you to push back achieving your goals.
- Improve your credit score
It’s vital to ensure that you not only know your credit score, but that you check it on a regular basis. We would recommend downloading your free annual report to ensure that there are no nasty surprises when you go to apply for a loan. This could be from a store card that you’ve completely forgotten about where the provider may not have your current overseas address. These unpaid debts, while seemingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, can have a substantial impact on your ability to access financing.
Action Steps: If improving your credit score is one of your goals for the new year, thankfully there are a number of steps you can take to achieve this. We’ve outlined a complete article that you can access here to check out your options.
- Reduce unnecessary expenses
For many households and individuals, there are a number of expenses that we know we could easily live without, but we just can’t seem to break the habit. This largely comes down to not having a large enough ‘why’ to get rid of these unnecessary costs once and for all. Whether it’s the morning coffee from your favourite coffee shop, or the couple of beers after work with your colleagues, or expensive gym membership that never gets used – whatever the expense may be, if you want to get rid of it once and for all, it’s important to take action.
Action Steps: The first step is to have clear in your mind why you’re trying to get rid of this expense. Once your ‘why’ is significant enough, the how becomes much easier. For example, your ‘why’ might be to afford to take your parents on a vacation to the Greek Islands. Having this clear in your mind makes it much easier to say ‘no’ to that daily coffee when the goal has more significance. Without having the goal clear, the few dollars spent on the coffee seems insignificant and the bad habit continues. Once you have the ‘why’ clear, start tracking on a weekly or daily basis how often you’re achieving your goal, and celebrate the successes along the way.
- Get rid of bad debts
Is it time to get rid of those store cards, or ridiculously expensive credit card interest that you’re only making minimum repayments towards, or that personal loan that has been slowly accruing interest in the background..? Whatever your bad debt is, it’s important to clear these as quickly as possible, as the interest expense is often significant and can leave a substantial dent in our personal finances.
Action Steps: The first step is to make a list of your bad debts, including the outstanding loan amount, the annual interest rate, and how much interest it is costing you each month and year to keep that bad debt alive. Seeing these figures clearly on a spreadsheet or note pad is much more impactful and motivating to get rid of them. Once you have a clear list of your bad debts, the next step is to automate your repayments to get rid of them quickly.
- Improve your financial literacy
It is inspiring to see the number of people across the globe looking to improve their financial literacy. Whether it be for professional reasons to move into a career in financial services, or simply to seek to improve your household finances, we commend anyone looking to enhance their own financial literacy.
Action Steps: The first step is to consider what you’re looking to get out of improving your financial literacy, which will make it far easier to map out how you’re going to achieve it. For example, if it is to learn more about how to plan for your retirement, completing on online course or attending seminars / webinars could be an excellent starting point. If it’s to learn more about the stock market and investing, perhaps speaking to a financial planner or completing a course through an education provider could be an excellent step. There is an abundance of resources available for anyone to access these days, both online and offline, so start checking these out and determine which is the best fit for you.
If you have new years’ resolutions that you’d like to add, please feel free to add these in the comments. We’d love to hear how you’re planning to make the most of your 2020.
LoanSuite Pty Ltd is your lending partner for all of your home loan, investment property, business and commercial financing needs. With our wide range of lending solutions, expertise in financial planning and investment strategies, and extensive experience in working with both Australian residents and Australian expats, we are your partners for your lending needs.
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LoanSuite Pty Ltd is an Authorised Credit Representative (Credit Representative Number – 494608) of My Local Broker (Australian Credit License – 481374). Important Disclaimer: Your complete financial situation will need to be assessed before acceptance of any proposal or product.