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POWER

10 ways to painlessly own up to your money position


You may not be good with savings or make as much money as you wish, but your money position cannot be denied as being distinctly yours. It's as much an aspect of your personality as your favourite ice cream flavour or the way you dress.

This creates difficulty in recognising that money positions can be problematic, and therefore lead you down a path of hardship or debt. In these cases, help is often rejected or put off for later. In cases of financial hardships or troubles with debt, financial advice from loved one or professionals might be all you need, but first you need to realise that a conversation needs to happen.

Harmless ways you can use to own up to (and control) your money position

1. Acceptance

Do you find that you avoid opening your bank statements? Or get stressed when it comes time to split the bill? You may have a money tendency that you haven't owned up to yet or want to verbalise. As with changing any routine behaviour, the first step is admittance. This act inspires the acceptance to change your circumstances and improve your behaviour.

2. Don't compare yourself to others

The ways we use money are incredibly personal and there are technically no wrong ways to spend it. We all have our own money personality, where some like to save while others like to treat their friends to dinner. As long as your money personality doesn't contribute to rising debt, and you can support any dependents, there's no wrong way.

3. There is a lot of free stuff out there

If you're struggling to accept cutting down on certain expenses, take a look at whether there are any free or cheaper alternatives out there. For example, if you're a fan of streaming, consider SBS On Demand or ABC iView.

Whether paid for by your tax dollars, or offered by a friendly non-for-profit, there is a lot of free advice and tools to help everyday people get ahead.

4. Overwhelmed by amount owed

Debt looks big as a single sum. But broken down weekly, monthly or yearly, debt can seem far more conquerable. Ranking debts in terms of age and importance can help you plan your budget to start to chip away at the total.

Breaking down the amounts will help you address each separate item such as eating out, groceries and snacks. This can help you identify what can be cut back (the snacks).

5. Avoiding the issue

Being overwhelmed by the amount owed, or unknowingly still spending, some people will take too long avoiding the issue of their debt, and fail to seek financial help.

Pride can be a hindrance in admitting you need help. If you're a naturally confident person, you may not see the urgency in confronting your money position or may not view it as an extension of your personality. So consider opening up a conversation with peers or family to get their feedback.

6. Reach out to new people

Poor money attitudes from peers and colleagues can easily rub off and influence your spending. Consider spending time with others to broaden your sphere of influence and possibly learn new money management tips.

7. Speak to your family and friends

By speaking to someone you trust, you're unlikely to face any scrutiny or criticism. Financial hardship can be a difficult thing to admit for the first time, so consider explaining it to someone close and seeing whether they carry any tips. Financial timidity can restrict you from seeking professional help straight, so having the support and potential tips from your family may help you on the right track. And who knows, they may have been in a similar position before.

For more information, see our separate article on how to open up to your close ones about money

8. Start reading your bank statements

As we get closer to a cashless society, money is becoming more intangible and easier to spend. It seems to disappear from bank accounts with no recollection of when the payment happened. The average consumer has six monthly direct debits, which are 6 transactions they ignore completely. No wonder an account balance can be alarming when we look at it.

By reading through each line, you can get a good idea of where your money goes. How much went to coffee, and how much went to your bills? Seeing every cost laid out in front of you will help you identify and tackle the less important ones.

9. Understand what a problem looks like

This one perhaps isn't so painless. Everyone needs to recognise the identifiers of problematic spending. To most Australians, debt is an everyday part of our lives, so how do you know when that debt has gotten to a point beyond control? If you can forecast your income for the year, try and create a budget factoring in tackling debt. If you find that this budget doesn't allow much room for you to live, consider speaking to your bank or a financial hardship organisation to discuss your options.

10. Understand that everything takes time

Realistically, you're not likely to see any significant changes to your debt for a while. Most university graduates don't pay off their HECS debt for 5 - 10 years, while houses can take 30 years to pay off.

Be careful with paying off your debt. Don't make contributions too big, as this may lead you to borrowing for everyday costs or relying on a credit card.

Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product