Kiwis urged to pay off debts, commit to savings plan

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Cutting up your credit card might be the best financial resolution you make this year.

While most New Year resolutions involved health and fitness goals, Chartered Accountants ANZ recommended taking the scissors to credit cards.

Organisation financial services leader John Cuthbertson said the past couple of years had been challenging and weird from a financial perspective.

"Some people lost their jobs. Others were fortunate enough to build a healthy pool of savings or pay down their mortgage," he said, adding household debt increased considerably over the past two years.

"Many of us chalked up some debt over the past two years to make ends meet, so it's time to hit reset and bring that debt under control.

"We suggest you focus on small debts to begin with, as little achievements keep you motivated, and prioritise those debts with high interest rates, as those are hurting you the most.

"Also be sure to pay off non-deductible debt first."

Households also needed to commit to a savings plan with at least three months income to be held as an emergency fund, Cuthbertson said.

"Many of us have the best intentions to save, but when pay day hits, we can get carried away and quickly spend what's in our account - prompting us to think 'ah well, I'll try again next month'."

The easiest way to meet the commitment was to set up an an automatic transfer to savings, he said.

"If you've successfully hit your savings goal, or paid off your credit card debt, celebrate with a nice meal or a special leisure activity. You'll be helping local business and feel like you've earned the reward."

Investment was also critical for longer-term savings, in such asset classes as shares, bonds, managed funds and real estate.

"While it can be overwhelming to explore, it is worth doing your homework and assessing what potential investment options are right for you."

However, Cutherbertson said investors needed to be careful of get rich quick schemes.

"But be wary of investment opportunities promising quick and significant returns - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!"

One of the ways to reduce risk was to seek professional advice from a financial adviser before making any decisions, as well as an accountant.

"Chartered Accountants have done years of study and professional development, to get to the point that they can advise you on the best way to structure your finances.

"For example, you may be able to make voluntary superannuation contributions and enjoy a tax break on them, when to pay down debt and in which order, and the taxation implications of different investments.

"We can also help navigate a complex tax situation if you've just moved countries, which is certainly on the cards for a lot of people post-pandemic."

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter