In a financial environment where everything seems to be getting more and more complex, it is essential that you anchor your own financial future with some sound principles.
1. Your housing debt (mortgage repayments) should not exceed 28 percent of your gross income. Your total debt repayments should be under 36 percent.
2. Invest for your future. Use your super and max out your benefit limits if possible. If you can get increased employer contributions or tax benefits by making additional contributions, make sure that you are taking advantage of them!
3. Have a diversified investment portfolio. An old rule of thumb is to deduct your age from the number 100 ... and the result is the percentage you should have in growth-types of investments.
4. You don't want more than 5-10 percent of your portfolio in any one stock.
5. If you don't understand an investment, don't buy it. Know what you are getting into and how you are investing.
6. If you are not saving 10 percent of your income, you are not saving enough. If you are looking towards retirement, women need to save at least 12 percent and men need to save 10 percent towards retirement.
7. Have liquid money. You want to have 6-12 months of money readily accessible in a money market account as your emergency fund.
8. Buy insurance with the highest excesses so that you are paying less in premiums. But, make sure you have sufficient liquid money to afford the deductible if something happens.
9. Generally it is better to buy a car than to lease. But, don't buy a brand new car. Millionaires usually own and drive used cars.
10. Have you ever been pushed to buy an extended warranty on a product you purchased? Generally, not the best idea-usually a waste of money.
11. Keep good records. Keep your cost basis information, your taxes, know where your money is and where your accounts are.
12. Eliminate bad debt. If you have credit card debt you are generally living beyond your means. There is good debt and bad debt. Get rid of bad debt.
13. Know what you are spending. Have a budget and stick with it.
14. Put your possessions into good condition before you retire or go through a life change.
15. Stay in good health. Health insurance is the number one reason people do not retire.
16. Make sure your income exceeds what you have as expenses every month. And you should insure your income because almost everything else is dependent on it.
17. Don't let investments automatically roll over. Make sure you are making the most on your money and have a plan. It's not just always the best rate in the short term (or long term).
18. Don't have a number of different superannuation accounts. Consolidate. If you have old personal or employer super plans, roll over into a personal super plan in your own name.