It's time to sort your finances out. You're not human if there's something somewhere in your financial life that isn't 100 per cent up to date and/or sorted.
Many of us still have dollops of extra time in level 2, and if your finances still look like spaghetti or your head is deep in a hole, it's time to get stuck into a DIY financial makeover.
It's especially important for anyone on less than full income and those who face an uncertain financial future from ongoing economic fallout from Covid-19.
But how? Start by taking a stocktake of what's working and what is tangled and tortuous about your finances?
Next list the top 10 tasks to take on. These could be things like a deep analysis of your spending, refinancing your mortgage, writing a will, switching insurance or creating a budget.
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Employed people on low incomes and those on wage subsidy should create a task to look into any supplementary benefits, Working for Families, Best Start, in-work tax credits and others.
I think sorting/organising/filing real and digital paperwork should be on everyone's top 10. It makes all the other tasks easier.
Next take your list of 10 and order them from most difficult to easiest. Then invert the list and start working from the easiest task. That way you get some early wins that motivate you to keep it up. Putting the most difficult first could result in failure.
Having said that, easiest to hardest is not the only way. It could be according to the greatest or fastest financial payback.
On the subject of payback, the big bad budget offers one of the best returns on investment for many people. It's a rare household that can't save by setting spending limits in various aspects of their lives.
A big one is food. Lockdown directed much of our food spending on the supermarket, which helped concentrate the mind on what we really needed. Thanks to lockdown I've started analysing my "eating out" spend, including coffees, lunches and so on, in two ways: overall food spending and overall entertainment spending. Previously it was under entertainment only.
I've said it before, but selling excess stuff on Trade Me and other market places, can bring in a good chunk of cash if you're organised, which makes it a good task to include for some people. Trade Me's parcel service using CourierPost and Fastway is reasonably easy to use, as is the Pass the Parcel service.
Whatever you choose to put on your to-do list, don't tick it off too fast. If you break your tasks down into bite-sized actions and work through them methodically, the outcome is almost always better because you've had the time to think and work through each one thoroughly.
I don't mean slow to the point of falling asleep on the job. Alongside your detailed to-do list, include dates to begin each step, and review your progress at the end of each week. Some of these jobs can seem overwhelming when you first start them. If you keep up small steps, you will make progress.
Slowly and methodically also allows for working through the pros and cons. We hear all too often that re-mortgaging or switching insurance are sure-fire wins. They may not be for you once you've analysed them.
You may, for example, get a cheaper interest rate on your mortgage, but less flexibility. A flexible mortgage enables you to pay your mortgage faster if you get bonuses or small but regular extra money. Switching mortgage could also mean higher bank fees.
A final note. Be especially careful when switching insurance providers or policies. Sometimes a "cheaper" policy is simply less cover. With any policies related to your health such as mortgage/income protection and critical illness/disability policies you will usually not be covered for conditions developed during the time you held the old policy. That includes conditions that haven't been diagnosed, but you have symptoms for.