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5 ways you can “adult better” with your personal finances

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Staying on top of your personal finances can seem challenging, but with some self-discipline, it doesn’t have to be hard. Whether it’s researching different financial products, setting up a reminder to pay rent, negotiating a pay rise with your employer or setting yourself a budget, there’s plenty to think about when becoming financially independent.

Basic money management skills aren’t often taught at school or university, so you could be left scratching your head when it comes to interest rates, tax returns and debt consolidation. To help you stay on top of your finances so that you can “adult better”, keep the following tips in mind.

1)      Know your credit score

Your credit score can be telling of your financial behaviour and it can reveal the way in which a bank will view you when you apply for finance. For this reason, it’s important to find out your credit score to see if you need to make any changes to your financial habits and behaviour. For example, if you’ve fallen behind on your car loan or credit card repayments and you notice your credit score has dropped, you can work on getting on top of these repayments to improve your score. Alternatively, if you’re in the market for a new loan, make sure you borrow within your means so you don’t wind up with a debt you can’t afford to repay.

2)      Take care of your personal debt

Get into the habit of reviewing your spending patterns, your savings and your debt. If you notice that you have multiple loan accounts, you often pay your bills late or you regularly increase your credit card limit, you may want to rethink the way you are managing your debt.

For instance, if you have several credit card accounts and you’re falling behind on your repayments, consider applying for a 0% balance transfer product so that all your debt is in one place, you can reduce the overall interest you pay and you can avoid interest altogether during the promotional interest-free period.

For an award-winning personal overdraft account that can help you consolidate debt as well as spend and save, click here.

3)      Request a better deal

Negotiating for a better deal on your financial accounts is an important skill to master as a young adult. Whether it’s your mobile phone plan, your electricity bill or your credit card purchase rate, you should always find out whether your provider can offer you a more competitive deal. They may waive the annual fee on your credit card, offer a more competitive rate on your personal loan or add more value to your Internet package.

When asking for a discount, you’ll need to build a case to justify why you deserve a better product. Obviously, your drawcard will vary depending on your relationship with your provider and the type of customer that you are. However, if you’ve been a loyal customer for a number of years, if you have a perfect repayment history or if you have a good credit score, you can use any of these facts as leverage during your negotiations.

4)      Be prepared when the taxman visits

Tax time can be daunting for young adults as it’s often difficult to understand what information you need, how to lodge your return and whether you should do it yourself or use the services of a tax accountant.

However, the best way to approach the end of financial year (EOFY) is to be prepared. This means researching what expenses you can claim back (eg, travel or uniform expenses that you may have incurred from work), keeping records of all your receipts and creating a tax return checklist to make sure you have everything you need (eg, PAYG slips, your tax file number and your bank details).

5)      Don’t ignore your HECS/HELP debt

If you’ve graduated from university, chances are you’ll have a HECS/HELP debt that you need to repay once you start earning a certain amount. While your tuition fees may have been a non-issue during your uni years, you shouldn’t ignore them once you’ve reached the income threshold.

Typically, you’re not required to repay your debt until your annual taxable income is $51,309 or greater. Once you reach this threshold, your employer will withhold 4% of your taxable income, which will be directed towards your HECS/HELP debt. If you start a new job, remember to tell your employer so that they can deduct it from your pay. You can do this by filling out a tax file declaration form.

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Learning to manage your personal finances responsibly can be liberating. Do your research and proactively take steps to improve your money management skills and your financial well being while you’re young so that you can reap the benefits well into your future.

This is a guest blog from Bessie Hassan, Money Expert at Finder.com.au

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