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Make 2013 a lucky year for your family finances by putting these seven steps in place.  And don’t worry if it’s already February – the Chinese New Year has only just started!

1. Get money minded

Make 2013 the year that you improve your money knowledge.  There are free online tools and resources on sites like Mozo as well as the government’s MoneySmart website.

2. Be goal oriented

Get crystal clear about what you want this year and why? Without realistic and clear money goals, both short-term and long-term, it will be hard to make smart financial decisions for yourself and your family.

3. Pay down debt

There’s no reason to pay sky high interest rates on your credit card. If you spent heavily over the Christmas and holiday period, now is the time to nail that debt by taking up a low interest balance transfer offer. You can easily compare credit cards online to find the best rates.

4. Have a plan

Don’t think of it as a budget in terms of what you can’t spend, think of it as a spending plan and what you need to spend. By knowing where you money is coming and going you’ll be able spend your money on the things you really want, and avoid wasting cash on bank fees or late payment fees.

5. Mortgage matters

A home loan is probably your family’s biggest financial commitment, but it’s definitely not a set and forget task. Rates are at record lows and banks are competing to get your business right now. So if you’re paying more than 6% you’re paying too much. If you’re too shy to ask your bank for a better deal, talk to a home loan negotiator to find out how much switching could save you.

6. Taxing times

It’s time to start thinking about the tax implications of investments, as well as purchases that will help drive down your taxable income. The government also has Guide to tax for families website, listing the offsets you may be eligible for.

7. Be prepared

You’ll get the biggest discounts the further you plan in advance, especially for things like flights and accommodation. Pick out a few key holiday destinations and keep an eye out for when they go on sale.  If you prepare yourself for those big expenses now, and pick deals, you’ll get more for your money and much less stress.

About the author:  Kirsty Lamont is a director of Mozo.com.au which helps Australians compare credit cards and other financial products.  Kirsty was one of the launch team for Virgin Money when it started in Australia in 2003, and also held a senior role at BankWest before joining Mozo in 2007.  A consumer finance expert, she has access to Mozo’s up-to-the-minute data about different financial products on offer for Australian consumers.
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