The New Year has been and gone and those wonderful resolutions have been forgotten about by the tail end of January.

I have started putting milk back in my coffee and eating cheese.

If you've fallen back into the same financial pattern as usual, here are eight steps to a better 2018. Doing nothing is not the answer.

1. Make a list of what's wrong with your finances


Take your list and put it in order of importance, money saving/making, or ease. Then choose which end to work from.

If you're someone who gives up easily, start ticking off the simplest-to-complete items first. If you're struggling financially, start on the items that will save or earn you the most money.

2. Track your income and expenses

Work out what you spend now, break it down into categories and work out where realistic savings can be made.

Compare each month's spending against your template. Game yourself into changing your spending and saving patterns.

3. Re-organise your bank accounts

If your income is being deposited into one pot and you dip into it whenever you desire something, there will be leakage.

Take your budget and organise it according to categories such as mortgage/rent, utilities and spending.


Create separate bank accounts for the major categories and arrange for your income to be divvied up automatically on day one of your pay cycle. The emphasis is on the word "automatic". If you have to do it manually the system breaks down eventually.

4. Reduce the interest you pay on your credit card

The best way to reduce the interest you pay on your credit card is to cut it up. Get rid of it and go debit.

Otherwise, use a balance transfer to reduce your interest for sufficient time to nix the balance once and for all.

ASB is offering no fee and zero per cent interest for six months on its Visa Light card and the BNZ has a $40 fee and zero interest for 12 months on its Visa and Mastercard Advantage Classic accounts.

5. Change your personal habits

All too often, intelligent people self-sabotage thanks to financially unhealthy habits.
We all score small — and sometimes not so small — own goals on our personal finances, such as blowing our savings on travel and cars.

Consider what habits you have that send your money into a black hole. Everyone is different. It could be buying on impulse, ignoring credit card bills, breaking your budget "just this once" every week, or confusing wants with needs.

6. Get advice

If basic financial management is your problem, see a budget adviser. It's free. If the problem is insurance, visit a fire and general or life insurance adviser.

If you know you should re-mortgage or structure your borrowing differently to save money and build up capital, consult a mortgage adviser.

Or if your investments are a dog's breakfast, get help from an authorised financial adviser.

If your problems are deeper than what to do with your money, seek help from a professional who is trained not in finance-related topics, but in psychology or psychotherapy.

Help with making lasting changes to your behaviour is worth its weight in gold or Bitcoin, or whatever it is you value.

7. Prepare for tax time

IRD has teeth and every year too many of us are fined or charged interest on unpaid tax.

If you have a rental property, Airbnb, or other part-time business, now is the time to set up systems to make tax time easier. This may be anything from expander wallets to automated accounting systems. Collect all the receipts so you can claim all your deductibles and charitable donations.

If you're self-employed, create a new sub account with your bank to keep your GST in, instead of spending it, as too many self-employed people do.

8. Do the sums on your retirement

Whether you're 25 or 55 you need to know how you're going to fund your retirement.

NZ Super doesn't buy a whole lot. If you're young, investing a modest 10 per cent of everything you earn is a good starting point that will guarantee a comfortable retirement, providing it's invested wisely.

A 55-year-old with no savings will have to work a whole lot harder. KiwiSaver should be the base starting point for all Kiwis thanks to the annual government tax credits and the out-of-sight out-of-mind approach to saving.

Other long-term investment possibilities can include shares, funds, property, or even investing in your own business.