Kochie’s challenge for couples: 15 minutes a month

Here’s a challenge. This year we want you to set aside 15 minutes every month to talk about your money with your partner.

Doesn’t sound much, but think about it, when was the last time you sat down with your partner to talk about your finances?

Financial worries are a leading cause of relationship breakdown, and so often relationships are put under strain for the simple reason that partners do not talk about what they each want from their money or understand where it goes.

So what happens in your 15 minutes a month?

We’re not talking about paying bills, checking the credit card statement or doing the banking. That’s managing your money and not the objective of these sessions.

Instead, we want you to start thinking about the big picture… together.

Start the first month’s 15 minute session by just getting organised and making sure you both know where all your financial documents are kept and whether they’re actually up-to-date.

Collect all the insurance policies (life, disability, health, home and contents etc), check the cover is still right for you (if not shop around for alternatives) and put them in the one place where both of you can easily access them.

The same with mortgage documents, superannuation accounts and reports, bank documents, investment records as well as tax returns and receipts.

Then there’s the will. No-one likes talking about the possibility of death but the prospect of leaving your family in the financial lurch is just plain stupid. Read each other’s wills and make sure they’re current and relevant.

Just knowing where your financial safety nets are stored and what’s in them is a great start.

One of the most common questions we receive is ‘what can I do with my money?’ Our immediate reply is ‘what do you want your money to do for you?’ In other words you have to decide first.

So for your second session use the time to think about the future, what you each want from it and how to afford it.

Write down your needs and wants. Do this individually first, and then share them with each other.

Surprised? Shock horror? Or were you both on the same track? Sharing the ‘want’ lists is usually the eye-opener. It’s highly likely there will be some surprises there.

These lists will form part of your regular budgeting and, like all good budgets, they are not written in stone. Budgets should be reviewed at very regular intervals and change as your wants and needs change.

Another session should look at your investments and super. Have you accumulated too many super funds? Are you in the right superannuation investment option which matches your risk profile and stage of life? Is it time for both of you to visit a financial planner to talk about a long-term plan?

These are just examples, everyone is different and you can use the sessions to discuss whatever is most important for you. So here’s another challenge. Start tonight. 15 minutes a month is not a lot to ask to think about your financial future.

5 easy ways to change your money mindset forever

Humans are creatures of habit, and unfortunately when it comes to money many of us have picked up a few bad traits over the years.

However, we all have the power to change, and if you make an effort to ingrain positive financial habits into your life chances are they will end up sticking.

Here are five easy ways to change your money mindset forever.

1. Save 10 per cent of your income… without fail

Every time you get paid, send at least 10 per cent of your income to a high interest savings account that you simply don’t touch. If you receive a salary, set up an automatic debit from your transaction account to a separate investment account to make sure this always happens. This may not be enough to achieve all your financial goals, but it’s a great start.

2. Become a year-round negotiator

From bank fees to televisions, gym memberships to insurance, you’d be amazed at how many things are negotiable. You’ll be even more amazed how much you can save when you commit to negotiating on every transaction you make.

To do this, you need to be informed about the product or service you’re buying, leave any emotions at the door and always be prepared to walk away. Yes, it takes up a bit of time and confidence, but the savings will be more than worth it.

3. 15 Minute Monthly “Money Love”

We understand that learning about money isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you’re doing yourself no favours by staying in the dark about finances. Take the time to think about your financial goals and how you will achieve them, then build a basic budget and make sure you’re living within your means.

If you have amassed big credit card and other bad debts, put a strategy in place to pay them off as quickly as possible. My Money Makeover can help you do this.

Every month set aside just 15 minutes to THINK about your money and give it some love. Not to pay bills or do financial admin, but to set goals, assess how you’re doing financially, or adjust behaviour. In other words, working on your finances rather than in them.

Kochie’s advice on how to ask for a pay rise

4. Take super and insurance seriously

When it comes to money, superannuation and insurance are often put in the too hard basket. They seem complicated and you don’t benefit in your regular day to day life today. However, superannuation and insurance are vital to your long-term financial well-being.

For many people, their superannuation account is their single biggest asset. It will determine your lifestyle for 20 or 30 years of retirement. How much thought have you given to how it’s invested and the fees you’re paying. The Money Makeover will show you how to get informed and take an interest in your superannuation to maximise your nest egg.

Meanwhile, insurance could be the only thing standing between you and financial ruin. Make sure you understand your policies and read the fine print. Are you adequately covered?

5. Set-aside an ‘opportunity’ fund

An emergency fund is money you set aside and don’t touch unless you really, really need to, and we think this is a great idea. But instead of thinking about this as money for an emergency, we prefer to think about it in terms of the opportunity it affords you.

We recently heard a story about an American named Matt Becker who lost his job, but used the financial flexibility that his “opportunity” fund gave him to take a chance and start his dream business… a financial advice firm for new parents.

It’s a good story, and goes to show that improving your money mindset isn’t just about having a bulging bank balance.

It’s also about giving yourself the opportunity and flexibility to make good decisions in your life.