It’s 2024 and that means New Year’s resolutions – your chance to change things up and make a positive difference to your life.

You might be thinking of hitting the gym to get fitter or jumping online to look for that dream job.

But many of us are focusing on money matters – a Forbes Health study shows improving finances was the second most popular resolution for 2024.1

Making resolutions is the easy bit. Sticking to them can be harder. So, to set yourself up for success and get that money mindset you need a clear plan and specific goals.

The morning after…

If you’re waking up with a bit of a New Year financial hangover, you’re not alone.

Despite the cost-of-living pressure, many of us were planning to splash the cash over the holiday season.

A Finder survey revealed the average Australian was expected to spend $1,479 over Christmas – that’s a total of $30 billion on holiday spending, 9% up from $27.3 billion in 2022.2

The result? A serious post-holiday financial hangover, with 7.7 million Australians facing holiday debt.3

And we’re not super confident about paying it back. Only one in six Aussies in debt reckon they’ll be able to pay it off in a month, with 15% expecting to take up to five months, 5% up to 11 months and 3% – that’s 600,000 people – 12 months or more.

A 9-step guide to getting on top of your finances in 2024

So, if you went a bit crazy over the silly season and indulged in a summer spending spree, here are some simple ways to get that money mindset and start getting your finances in shape.

You can take it at your own pace…it could be one day a week or even nine days in a row if you’re feeling super energetic. The tips are pretty simple and straightforward. But at the end, you could find you’re less anxious about your debt and more in control of your financial future, whatever your situation.

It’s to make this year count. So, let’s go.

TIP 1 | Get on top of your debt

OK. Take a deep breath. You can do this. Let’s start by looking at any debt you’ve racked up. Consolidating your loans into one monthly repayment could save you money on interest rates and fees and simplify your finances into the bargain.

If you’re finding it hard to keep up with your repayments, call your providers to let them know you’re experiencing financial hardship. They can assess your situation and develop alternative payment plans to help you during difficult times.

While you’re sorting out your debt, it’s worth checking out these basic tips to help you get money smart.

TIP 2 | Create a budget

A budget can help you decide what’s essential (mortgage, rent, insurance) and what you could potentially ditch (streaming services, gym membership, eating out) to reduce the strain on your household finances.

You can get a clearer view of what you can and can’t afford by using an online budget calculator. And here’s a simple 3-step guide to how to budget.

TIP 3 | Track your spending

If you want to get that money mindset this year, you need to work out what you’re spending. A good way to start is simply by recording your expenses on a daily, weekly or monthly basis using an online budget calculator or simply write it down.

Once you know where your money’s going, you can start thinking about ways to cut back. Are there any quick wins you could make – a gym membership you’re not using or even a second car that’s sitting in the driveway most of the time?

It can help to separate your spending into essentials like mortgage or rent payments and non-essentials like eating out – with these, you could either cut back completely or find more affordable options. In the end, every bit adds up. It’s your lifestyle so you don’t need to deprive yourself of fun altogether, but even cutting back a little here and there could make a difference.

TIP 4 | Review your subscriptions

Remember the pre-Internet days of four free-to-air channels? They were simpler times. Now it seems as though all your favourite TV shows are on different streaming services, all of which need subscribing…and paying for.

If you feel your spending’s getting out of control, it’s worth spending some time reviewing your regular payments, including newspaper and magazine subscriptions and gym memberships. If you’re not getting value for money, it could be time to ditch the service and cut your spending.

TIP 5 | Set realistic savings goals

What are you saving for? Write down a couple of short-term and long-term savings goals. Short-term goals could be a new outfit or upgrading the old TV. Long-term goals could be something like a new car or deposit for a home.

Make sure your short-term goals are enjoyable, and things you really want so when you reach your goal, you’ll get a little psychological boost, which will reinforce your good habits.

Then you can set aside an amount you think you can afford to save each payday after expenses and set an automated deposit to your savings account. That way, you’re prioritising saving first before extra spending creeps in.

TIP 6 | Go hunting for deals

Much like death and taxes, bills are an inescapable part of life. But you may be able to save money. Reach out to your gas, electricity, mobile phone and broadband providers, and see if they have better deals or even shop around for a new provider. You can compare energy providers at Energy made easy.

TIP 7 | Do the hustle

After you’ve sorted your budget, you could do the same for your house. Garages or spare rooms can be a treasure trove, from forgotten kids’ games to clothes you’d only ever need if you get invited to a 90s theme party.

You might be able to turn these into ready cash on Facebook marketplace, eBay, Gumtree or by taking a stall at your local market.

And if you’d rather trade your skills than your Friends boxset, you might be able to earn extra income via sites like HiPages, Airtasker or Freelancer in the gig economy.

TIP 8 | Think green and cut wastage

Going green doesn’t just help the environment — it can also be one of the best ways to save money.

If you find you’re throwing out food at the end of every week, you might be able to reduce your grocery spending and your food waste.

If you’re continually replacing household goods, you could consider repairing, reusing or upcycling.

And if you’re a two-car household, you could think about whether you can do without the second car and save money on petrol, tolls, parking, registration, insurance and maintenance.

TIP 9 | Shop around for a better savings rate

It’s time to get your savings working harder. Consider shifting your money to a high-interest savings account or term deposit, so you can earn more interest.

We’re here to help

If you’re looking at getting that money mindset this year, we can help with expert tools, calculators and resources – whether you’re saving, budgeting or planning your finances.

1 New Year’s Resolutions Statistics 2024
2
Cost of Christmas: Australians plan to fork out $30 billion
3
Dashing through the bills: 7.7 million Australians in Christmas debt