The Daily Grind

Get your house in order for 2018.

Part 1

Get your house in order now

Any time is a good time to get your metaphorical house in order, however the start of a New Year is the perfect time to get going on those things that you have been putting off for too long.  This will be a two-part series, covering nine things we should all do to get our house in order for 2018.

Why you need to get your house in order

As a lover of anything to do with organisation, I actually enjoy the rituals around budgeting, tax preparation and insurance checking.  I have even been known to do it for friends and family, when they let me. I do realise that I sit in the minority on this issue, and for most folks this type of life admin sits somewhere between boring chore and the devils work.

But, too many of us neglect, ignore or give too little energy to these very important matters.  In my mind, we all work way too hard to be tripped up by our own lack of administrative effort.  It costs us every time we fail to ensure that we have our life administration up to date.  Or worse, it could cost our loved ones.  Put aside one or two hours every weekend for the next couple of weeks, or tackle one of these issues every month until they are done.  However, you go about it, don’t put it off any longer, why would you be working just to throw away your money and time?

This list is in no particular order; however, I would suggest that if you only do one thing in January, make it point 1.

1-4 actions you must take to get your house in order for 2018
  1. Get a will or update your will. At least check your will for currency. 

One way to ensure that your loved one’s lives are made all the more difficult on your passing is to not have a will.  If you have children, are over the age of 25 and or have any assets then you have absolutely no reason to not have a will.

Families can be complex beasts, you are making it harder for everyone you leave by not ensuring that your wishes are clear.  It’s actually selfish not to take the time to guarantee that the people (or pets) you love will be taken care of when you are not there to do so.  We have all heard the horror stories, don’t let your story be one of them.

  1. Get your Health Checks in order.

I will argue till the cows come home that ensuring you are in good health is a part of career management.  In addition to looking after your career, being ill or injured and sick is miserable.

Through no fault of their own, not all folks have the privilege of being in good health, but for the rest of us, we have no excuses.  Good health is a privilege that we should all take care to preserve.  Yes, that means exercise, but more fundamentally here, I am talking about being on top of your health management.

Checks for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and any diseases that run through your family should be undertaken regularly.  Women should be having pap smears every other year and mammograms (after 40, but if it runs in the family, earlier).  Men should have prostate checks after 50.  For those of us who spent lots of time outside as youngsters without a hat or sunscreen, get a skin check.  I’m sure that there is a whole raft of others that I haven’t mentioned.  Don’t forget the dentist.

I personally have just reached the age (in my 40’s), where I am starting to see people in my age bracket suffer from life changing (sometimes life ending) diseases.  At the same time, we are entering peak earning capacity years, often raising children and sometimes caring for parents. Go and get the tests, even if you know that they will bring with them a lecture from your doctor.  Find out what your base line is and work from there.

  1. Get your Budget in order.

You work too hard to have no idea where your money is going.  Absolutely, you can log on to your banking app and see where you have spent your money, but how about a plan for where your money goes?

Now you know how I feel about plans, I absolutely fricken love them.  A budget is just a plan for your money, and if you do it well, it can get you what you want.  There is no way you are going to be able to afford a holiday if every payday you spend like a drunken sailor in port for the night.

For decades now, my family has used ASIC’s Budget Planner.  Its free, easy and brilliant.  I update ours about every two months (excessive). It really helps work out where our money is going and how to rearrange things to get more bang for our buck.  Click here and it will take you straight to it.

I would also advocate the Barefoot Investor for simple and easy money management tips.  Even if you are great with money, a budget re-forecast is always a worthwhile (and fun for some of us) exercise.

  1. Get your Superannuation house in order.

I am the kind of person who signs up for the annual webinar from my Super fund to see how it went that year.  But for most folks, Super is about as interesting as watching grass grow.  That is of course, until it becomes very interesting, because you are wanting to use it to fund your retirement.

If you haven’t already, put all of your Super in one place.  Way too many people are losing their hard-earned Super through annual fees on small amounts (you know when you worked for that business in 2009 for 10 months).  Pool it all together, the Super funds make it really easy to do so.  Also, when you log into MyGov you can go to an area that helps you look for any lost Super.  Put it this way, almost 10% of what you earn is being put in another account that you are paying fees on every year and that you aren’t managing.  That’s your money, go and get it.

If you are taking a bit more of an interest in your Super, it is worthwhile having a look at your investment mix.  Get some advice on it, you may find that you are losing out by not having the right investment strategy.  Every 12 months check that all the Super you should have earned in the last 12 months has been paid.  Sometimes payroll gets it wrong, don’t let it be on your dollar.

Finally, make sure you have elected who your Super goes to, on your passing. Failure to do so may see your Super going to someone that you had not intended. Make a death benefit election.

Still with me?  I sincerely hope that I haven’t been too shouty on this topic.  I just feel so strongly about it.  In many cases, you are literally throwing away money you have already earnt.  In other cases, you are delaying cost to yourself or your loved ones, and for what?  A couple of hours of boring admin a year?  I do think that we all work too hard to ignore these issues.

Stay tuned for the second part of how to get your house in order for the New Year.

If you are still wanting to read something interesting, why not try:

How to plan for your next year at work or 4 things you can do when your motivation goes missing.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Note, this is my opinion, not professional financial advice. 


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