The Daily Grind

Get your House in Order for 2018.

Part 2.
Let’s get your house in order

In part one of this series I got a bit shouty about Health Care, Wills, Superannuation and Budgeting.  I have had a couple of questions as to how these life matters relate to work, or more specifically your career.

What does getting my house in order have to do with work?

To my mind, most of us work to support our lifestyle.  Irrespective of where that places you on the wealth scale, for the majority of us our work supports us to live.  If you don’t have your life admin in order, then potentially you can compromise your lifestyle, or worse, compromise your ability to attain your lifestyle.  Additionally, I don’t know a single person who has ever said, “I am really glad I pay more for insurance than I need to”.  It just makes no sense to work hard for our pay only to not make the most of it.

So, get your house in order and then get on with living the life you choose.

Points 1-4 are in the previous post.  You can read Get your house in Order for 2018 part 1 here.

5-9 Actions you must take to get your house in order for 2018
  1. Get your Insurance house in order.

daniel garcia 422210 - Get your House in Order for 2018.Photo by Daniel Garcia on Unsplash

Check that you have insurance for all of the important things that matter to you.  I am not going to begin to tell you what insurance you should have, that is entirely up to you.  I think about it this way, if it was taken away from me (house, contents, income), would I be able to replace it or would I be able to do without it.  If the answer is no I would not be able to replace it or do without it then I probably need insurance to cover its loss.  Take some time to check that your current insurance covers all that you want it to.  The details are boring, but it’s important to know whether or not you are covered for flood insurance if you live in a flood zone, for example.

Insurance companies rely on us being lazy or loyal when it comes to who we insure with.  This costs us money.  Most years, our insurance premiums go up.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Try calling your insurer and telling them that you don’t want to pay more than you did last year, that you have been a great customer.  Ask them what they can do for you, see what happens.  If staying with your current insurer is not important, then spend an hour getting alternate quotes.  I guarantee you will find something at a better rate or with better terms.  Don’t let them take you for granted.  We did this a couple of years ago, and saved about $600 a year on our insurance.  I don’t know about you, but that is money that I’d rather in my pocket than elsewhere.

  1. Get your Holiday plans in order.

maldives ile beach sun 37921 - Get your House in Order for 2018.

I have spoken about how important it is to have a holiday plan as a part of your work plan here.  Very few of us are lucky enough to point to a place on a map, buy a ticket and go.  Work, children, money, health, school holidays and other obligations all prevent us from simply taking a holiday on a whim.  Holidays are an important part of our work routine and great for our mental health, so ensuring that you get one is a great goal to have.

However, just hoping that you have the time and money to spend a week or two on the Coast is not going to make it happen.  You want to take a vacation in September, start putting away money from your next pay.  If you are in a team where only one of you can be away at any one time, submit your leave application early.  I can guarantee that Glenda, two cubicles down will already be putting in her leave.  Don’t miss out because you couldn’t be bothered doing the admin.  There is no way that you will be taking a holiday in September if you start thinking about it in July, so put the foundations in place to make it happen this year.

  1. Mortgages and Banks.

g crescoli 365898 - Get your House in Order for 2018.Photo by G. Crescoli on Unsplash

In line with the point on Insurance, don’t let your bank take you for granted.  If you have a mortgage and haven’t spoken to your bank in the last 12 months, jump on the phone.  Ask them if there is any better mortgage package you could be on, or if they can reduce your interest rate.  I have actually been astounded when this has worked for me, and I have ended up paying less for my home loan.  You could put the difference to a holiday this year.

Do the same for your credit cards, and if you have any money in savings ask for a higher rate.  What are they going to do, say no?  If they do, then why not give another bank a call? Your house doesn’t get better because you are paying a higher interest rate, so don’t pay a cent more than you need to.  I have always liked to read Money Magazine (link here) for help with some of this stuff, it may help you to.

  1. Get your Taxation in order.

OK, I know that the title of this is about as stimulating as a runny nose, but like a runny nose, taxes need to be attended to.  For most folks, we start seriously thinking about our tax about an hour before the appointment.  Whereby we run around shouting at our partner or cat that we can’t find our Group Certificate.  Often this is accompanied by swearing and much gnashing of teeth with periodic statements such as “where is that receipt, you know from the cancer mob, we gave them $15 sometime last year”.  Once we have accumulated as many of said receipts as we are able to find, we head off to our annual appointment.

It is really simple to fix this.  Get a tax drawer.  Everything that may or may not be tax related throughout the year goes in the tax drawer.  It need not be tidy or in any order, just in one place.  I also never fully delete emails until after my tax is done, you would be surprised how many tricky receipts end up in your email.  If you can, get a relationship going with your accountant (or learn it all yourself), so that they begin to know everything that you can claim.  You don’t want to pay any more than you have to.

  1. Get your general financial house in order

Earlier this year I did a review of the amount of subscription type items that were automatically coming out of our accounts.  I was staggered to find that we had money coming out all over the place for things we didn’t use, or barely used.  Some examples include:

  • Netflix (never giving up, totally worth it)
  • Amazon Prime (absolutely giving up, never watch it)
  • Choice subscription
  • Amazon Unlimited
  • The Motley Fool Dividend’s Investor
  • Money Morning
  • Apple, iCloud storage

And the list went on.  I literally had money leaking out for things I was either not using or barely using.  Do the same for yourself.  If you save yourself $20 a month, that is money back in your pocket.  Maybe you can buy some fish and chips with it on your planned holiday?

Have a look at how you buy groceries.  Recently I had the opportunity to tour a factory that produced sugar.  I watched as the sugar was processed, then we went across to the packaging plant.  They literally had rows of wrappers, from no name, Aldi, Coles, Woolworths to big named brands.  Once they had completed a run of one brand, they began the next, with a different brand wrapping.  EXACTLY the same product.  In the supermarket, you can pay up to $2.50 difference for the same kilo of sugar.  Why would you? Work out where you get quality and difference in the grocery isle, spend your money there.  Don’t waste it on aesthetics that don’t matter to anyone.

Getting your house in order for 2018

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many other things that you can do to get your house in order.  If you do these nine things, then you will be well on your way to ensuring that the foundations of your lifestyle are protected and supported.

I am sure that 2018 will be great for you.  Can you think of any other items that should be on the “get your house in order” list?


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