September 15, 2023 | 6 min read
Summary: Are you smart with money? We look at the eight signs that may indicate you are.
Anybody at any income or asset level can practice financial discipline and smart money habits. You just need to plan carefully for the future, invest and save regularly, and use finance professionals or tools for guidance.
In this article we look at some of the main signs that could indicate you’re smart with money.
People who are good with money are aware of their finances. They create budgets so they can be on top of their income, track their expenses and ensure they aren’t living beyond their means.
Budgeting also enables you to be in full control of your money.
If you can stick to your budget even when your earnings have increased—as opposed to spending more—you’re doing really well as this will help to build wealth.
Those who have a good relationship with money aren't waiting for a pay increase or a bonus to save or invest—they're making it part of their routine and using whatever money they have now.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to save at least 20% of your income each month for short and long-term goals, emergency funds, retirement and investments.
How much you choose to invest depends heavily on your income and investment goals, so before you invest, make sure you know how much risk you can take on and the time frame for when you’ll need the money.
For example, if you’re in your 20s or 30s and saving for retirement, you can generally take on a little more risk in exchange for higher returns because you won’t need your money for several decades.
For those in their 40s or 50s, their investment time frame for retiring is much shorter. Therefore, they won’t be able to take on as much risk.
Those who are good with money are planning ahead rather than living for today.
Whether you're saving to buy a home, pay for your children’s education or ensure you have enough saved for retirement, setting clear financial goals is important.
This means being strategic with your planning. You want to have short-term goals which can take around one to three months to achieve. This may include things like paying down credit card debt.
Then there’s long-term goals—saving for a home deposit or your retirement—which require a lot more money and regular attention.
If you and your partner have regular conversations about your financial situation and future, you're ahead of the game.
Understanding each other’s general attitude towards money, and being clear about your financial goals, can help to build a strong foundation.
If you’re planning a wedding or starting a family, you may need to agree to cut back on expenses and reduce your debts to start saving.
You may also have assets you want to protect, like property or super. Having a financial agreement which sets out how your assets and money will be divided if your relationship breaks down, is a good way to ensure you won’t lose what’s important to you.
Having a solid reserve of cash that you can tap into in an emergency goes a long way.
If you have an unexpected expense, such as an urgent car repair or medical bills, having money that is immediately available means you don’t need to charge the expense to a high-interest credit card or take out a personal loan.
Generally, you’ll need around three to six months of living expenses set aside but do what works for you and know that any amount will help.
A person with a wealth mindset knows that an accountant, money coach or financial adviser, is going to help them increase their wealth or further grow their assets, and potentially their income.
If you value the experience of experts in other aspects of your life, don't discount it when it comes to managing your life savings.
A financial coach is not just someone who helps with investments. Their job is to help you with every aspect of your financial life—savings, insurance, tax, debt—while keeping you on track to achieve your goals.
More importantly, they can answer questions like:
Having a plan in place for your retirement is a good indication you’re financially prepared for your future, even if your retirement is decades away.
Adding more into your super on a regular basis, can set you on the right path to achieving the lifestyle you want when you’re no longer working.
And even if you haven’t started putting money away for retirement, considering what you want your retirement to look like is a step in the right direction.
Many people who are good with money diversify their investment portfolios with other assets, such as rental properties to generate passive income.
Even if you aren’t able to own multiple properties, there are other rental opportunities that may provide another source of passive income. Some ideas include renting out a room in your home or renting out your garage or car spot.
Bottom line: Whether you're saving $25 or $2,500 per month, anyone who's good with money knows how to work with the wealth they have. Discipline is key and with it you can build the financial future you desire.
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This article has been prepared by NULIS Nominees (Australia) Limited ABN 80 008 515 633 AFSL 236465 (NULIS) as trustee of the MLC Super Fund ABN 70 732 426 024. NULIS is part of the Insignia Financial group of companies comprising Insignia Financial Ltd ABN 49 100 103 722 and its related bodies corporate (‘Insignia Financial Group’). The information in this article is current as at November 2023 and may be subject to change. This information may constitute general advice. The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions based on this information. It is recommended that you consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) before you make any decisions about your superannuation. You can obtain the latest copy of the PDS (or other disclosure documents) and TMD by calling us on 132 652 or by searching for the applicable product at mlc.com.au. You should not rely on this article to determine your personal tax obligations. Please consult a registered tax agent for this purpose. Opinions constitute our judgement at the time of issue. The case study examples (if any) provided in this article have been included for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied upon for decision making. Subject to terms implied by law and which cannot be excluded, neither NULIS nor any member of the Insignia Financial Group accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in the information in this communication.