The year has all but come to an end and the lazy afternoons of summer holidays are calling. But it can be hard to put your feet up if your financial affairs aren’t in order, or if you know that there are matters that still need your attention.
To help you address this and ensure some peace of mind over the holidays, have a look at these ten steps to New Year’s reconciliation and see if they can benefit you.
1. Consolidate your super
If you have more than one super account, consider whether it’s worth your while consolidating your accounts once and for all, and take the opportunity to find out if you have any lost super by using the Australian Taxation Office’s online services. (Note, be careful not to cancel any insurance in the process).
2. Check your insurances
Do you have the appropriate insurance cover in place? It may be time to reassess your personal arrangements including cover for death, disability and, income protection and check other insurances including for your home and contents and other assets. Especially if you have had a recent change in circumstances.
3. Review your Will
What significant things have happened in your family this year? It could be that you have a new child or grandchild, or a new life partner, or maybe a family member got married or divorced. Whatever the case, think about whether your Will still reflects your intentions and is still valid.
4. Check the beneficiaries of your super
Superannuation is not automatically included in your estate and so it is important to ensure that your nominated beneficiaries are up to date. If your superfund offers binding nominations, consider whether this may be an appropriate option for you or whether you need to renew this or seek advice.
5. Review your Powers of Attorney
Make sure that you are still comfortable with the person or persons appointed as your Power of Attorney and that you keep them updated on your wishes. If you don’t have a Power of Attorney in place, and would like more information about this talk to your adviser.
6. Lodge your tax return
Have you lodged your 2015 tax return and, if applicable, are your BAS statements up to date? A quick call to the Australian Taxation Office can help confirm information about your tax history if you aren’t sure whether your affairs are in order or speak with your accountant.
7. Track down outstanding bills and accounts
Search through your email inbox or sift through your mail to check that you are up to date with your service payments. It’s easy for notices to get lost amidst all the incomings and outgoings throughout the year, but chasing up even the smallest outstanding amount could save you money on overdue notices and make a difference to your credit rating. Where you have bank or credit card accounts that you are no longer using, consider whether they are still necessary and take action if appropriate.
8. Update your contact details and get your filing in order
Making sure that your car registration, drivers licence, Medicare, Centrelink, the Australian Electoral Commission and the Tax Office all have the right contact details for you ensures that you can be easily contacted in the case of obligations or benefits falling due. Also make sure the details on your Senior Card are accurate if you have one. You can also take this opportunity to get organised and file away these records, financial documents and other important information that you may need, including any tax information that you are required to keep.
9. Destroy unused credit and debit cards
Credit card fraud and identity theft are common place. Ensuring that your cards are destroyed properly is one way to protect you and your family from these risks. Cutting up or shredding a card is a common way to dispose of it, whilst running a strong magnet over the magnetic strip scrambles the data on the strip, making it difficult to extract information. If your card has a chip in it, a hammer or pair of scissors can help. It also helps to dispose the different pieces of the cards into different waste bags. The same applies for any documents that contain personal information.
10. Redeem your reward points
After using your credit card all year, it is likely that you’ve accumulated some reward points. This goes for your frequent flyer points too. Check what benefits are being offered and see if you may qualify for a cash back or gift card reward. This could be a great way to save on holiday shopping or get some discounts whilst travelling over the summer. And where you don’t plan on flying, perhaps your frequent flyer points can be converted into other rewards that are more useful.
By tying up your financial loose ends in 2015, you can start the New Year stress-free and more organised. Where you need a hand to understand or clarify any of your financial affairs, your financial adviser is available to help.