If you want a shot at a better financial future, then start now. Don't wait until January 1 to get new habits in place.
One of the smartest things you could do with your money in that time is taking a fresh approach to it. Sometimes we're stuck in a rut, but you can get out of it by this time next year.
There are plenty of ways to get out of a financial rut:
Get a budgeting app. I've tried many but currently use PocketSmith.com because I like the "safe balance" feature that tells you immediately if you've spent up to your limit in a category. Seeing that you need to stop spending can even work for groceries. There is always something in the back of the cupboards to eat. Budgeting apps really are magic, make your money go further and force you to think more deeply about what you're spending and saving.
• Premium - Diana Clement: Are your savings sinking?
• Premium - Diana Clement: 15 things I have learned about personal finance
• Premium - Diana Clement: New debt traps - Uber Eats, online gambling, 'buy now, pay later'
• Premium - Diana Clement: How to eat well without breaking the bank
Pay down your debt. Don't make excuses. Make a game out of paying down an extra $X each week. That might be $5 for some people or $50 for others.
Sort out your KiwiSaver, and your children's KiwiSaver while you're at it. If you're not saving sufficient to get the government contribution (a 50 per cent return for nothing) then increase what you save to get it. If you don't know what fund you're in, call 0800 KIWISAVER right now to find out. If you could stomach a balanced or growth fund, then switch. I did quick calculation for a 35-year-old earning $70,000, who moved their money, for example, from the ASB default fund earning 5.81 per cent per annum over the past decade to the ASB growth fund at 9.78 per cent for the same period, the difference after 15 years would be around $34,000.
Buy your first home, or dare I say it a rental property. If you're not on the property ladder then look for ways that you can be, eventually. Setting goals gets you further financially. It could mean moving to another area, giving up gratuitous spending, saving more into KiwiSaver, and probably most importantly changing your thought patterns. "How can I make this happen?" is a far better narrative to have running around your head than "it's impossible".
Learn/invest in something new. If you don't know how the share market works, or funds, find out, although first make sure you're getting your free $521 government contribution every year from KiwiSaver. Then you may want to dip your toe into shares, funds, property syndicates or even peer-to-peer lending. Take a look at platforms such as Sharesies, Hatch, and InvestNow, but don't invest if you still have consumer debt or if you need that money soon.
Crank up your career to the next level. Unless you're CEO already, then look at ways you could increase your salary from your day job. Work on your employment brand. But don't fall for lifestyle inflation and spend all the extra income. Also make sure you protect your and income by looking after your health and take out insurance to ensure that you don't lose your income and/or assets.
Simplify Christmas. Santa and his budget slayers are on their way. Keeping Christmas under control makes a lot of sense. Set spending limits and stick to them. If you don't know where to start with that go back to last year's bank statements and ruminate over whether your spending made sense.
Start the New Year with some new mantras. These are words or phrases you repeat to yourself to get in the right frame of mind. It's the power of positive thinking. They don't need to be "I'm going to make millions". They could be as simple as: "could I use that money more effectively?", "I need to look at my budget first", "this is money not a windfall" or "can I invest that for a better return"?
Now figure out which of these to start with.