‘Tis the season where children around the world are judged on whether they are “naughty” or “nice”… and their reward from Santa is based on the result.
The threat of Santa’s retribution is always a great stick for parents in the months leading up to Christmas to demand better behaviour from their children.
But are you game to be judged by the same rules when it comes to managing your money? Have you been financially “naughty” or “nice” over the last year, and what sort of behaviour do you need to change to get a better reward? If you’re game, take our 14 question quiz to find out.
Q1) When it comes to my credit card, I…
- Can’t seem to pay off the balance each month.
- Heavy user but always pay it off by due date
- Switched to using a debit card so use my own money
2) My savings routine…
- Is non-existent
- I put something away when I can afford it.
- Every pay day I transfer part of my salary to a separate savings account.
3) When I go shopping…
- I buy what I need
- Go with a plan in my head
- Make a list and stick to it
4) If there is a financial emergency…
- I borrow to cover it
- Will do without other things to get over it
- Dip into my emergency fund which I’ve built and is equivalent to 6 months salary
5) In terms of estate planning…
- Who cares, I’ll be dead anyway
- I have a will which I made years ago
- Have a will which I review every 1-2 years
6) Insurance is…
- Way too expensive and I can’t afford it
- Necessary on important assets like house and car
- Essential to protect assets plus income and life
7) I think about my money…
- Rarely. It’s too scary and I have better things to do
- Whenever I pay any bills or am asked for information
- Every month for about 20 minutes to make sure I’m meeting my budget and goals.
8) When it comes to investing…
- I’d rather spend it as you only live once
- Like taking risks because I want to be rich quick
- Trying to build a diverse portfolio of quality assets
9) My financial goals are…
- What are you talking bout?
- Trying to make ends meet with what we’ve got
- Set every year for the short and long term with clear steps on how to get there.
10) My job…
- Sucks and the boss is a bit dodgy but I’ll stick with it
- Is okay but I’m looking around for something better
- Offers great opportunities and I’m trying to improve my skills to assist my potential.
11) My superannuation is…
- Limited to the compulsory contributions from the boss
- Growing fine because I’m in the right fund option
- Boosted by extra age based contributions
12) My property holdings…
- Don’t exist because I only like shares
- Currently just my house and I’m paying down the loan
- Are a good balance in my overall portfolio.
13) My share holdings…
- Don’t exist because I only like bricks and mortar
- Consist of a handful of speculative companies
- Are a good balance of quality stocks in my portfolio
- Starts and ends with me
- Is basically a World Vision sponsor child
- I donate a fixed percentage of my income each year.
How did you go? Hopefully it made you think. If your answers were;
Mostly 1s … YOU’VE BEEN NAUGHTY
Why are reading this section of the newspaper? We’ve failed you miserably.
If you’re new to this section then you need to keep coming back because we reckon we could help a lot.
You are a financial mess and you need to get your act together in 2012. It isn’t hard. It’s just common sense and a bit of discipline.
Start by doing a boring old household budget because you need to understand where your money is coming from and where it’s going too. That budget will point out obvious areas to cut back and focus you on maybe earning extra income through a second job or turning a hobby in to a money spinner.
The next step is get that debt under control. You should have no savings if you can’t meet credit card repayments on the due date. All savings should go in to getting that debt under control because it’s just too expensive to keep.
Then do some basic financial housekeeping. If you have a family or partner, you need a will and you need insurance to protect your income and cover any financial obligations if you die.
Also spend some time each month (it only needs to be 15 minutes) thinking about your money and financial situation.
That’s enough to start off. Look at answer C to each question above for hints on how to change financial behaviour.
Hope to see you back here each week and we’ll work together for Santa’s approval next year.
Mostly 3s… YOU’VE BEEN NICE
Santa is very pleased with you… great work. You look as though you’ve got most of the essential financial bases covered and should be fairly comfortable.
But such a good score doesn’t mean you can sit on your laurels. None of us can.
The world is changing pretty rapidly so the biggest challenge for you is to keep abreast of the investment cycle and that means continuing to build your knowledge.
The thought of learning about money should scare you anymore so broaden your knowledge base.
Start buying investment books, reading websites like Bloomberg and CNN Money or subscribing to investment newsletters.
Maybe touch bases with your financial planner, broker or accountant to check on how things are going.
Hopefully Santa’s gift to you this each is financial peace of mind
Mostly 2s… YOU NEED WORK
Hey that’s not a bad result. You’re a sort of financial Goldilocks… things aren’t too bad but you’re certainly not cruising.
The danger is you could be content with that position when a few minor changes could improve your financial situation considerably.
You’ve done all the hard work on the basics but that extra couple of steps could put you on easy street.
Everyone’s different, and it’s hard to generalise, but you’re probably the type of person who gets the basics right but are bit scared to go to the next level from money management to investing and building wealth.
It’s probably time to sit with a financial planner and map out a wealth building plan. Nothing flash, nothing risky. Just a plan to building a strong investment portfolio to secure your future.
Make sure you keep control of any decision making only commit to what you understand and are comfortable with.