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Top 3 tips for spring cleaning your finances


Spring: the season of renewal, transformation and the promise of good things ahead. But it's not just an opportunity for the weather to make the journey from dreary winter to glowing summer. It's also an opportunity for you to throw out the old and ring in the new when it comes to your finances. 

Spring is traditionally the season when we rummage through our garages and throw out the clutter we never use anymore. This same philosophy should go for our investment portfolios.

So, what should be on your list of financial spring-cleaning duties?

1. Peek at your portfolio

Spring is traditionally the season when we rummage through our garages and throw out the clutter we never use anymore. This same philosophy should go for our investment portfolios.

Talk to your financial adviser and see where you can trim the fat. Identify which of your investments is underperforming compared to the rest, and consider selling it. Alternatively, perhaps the time is ripe to sell off some of your assets for a profit, and look at where you can reinvest the money. For instance, CoreLogic RP Data recently noted that home values in Sydney have grown by 49.5 per cent since May 2012 – if you own a property investment in the New South Wales capital, perhaps now's the time to sell.

2. Check your credit report

Each year, you're allowed to receive one free copy of your credit report from a credit reporting agency. Maybe this spring is the right time to order it and make sure everything is as it should be. Back in 2012, Head of Veda Advantage Chris Gration told Today Tonight that around 1 per cent, or 140,000 Australian credit files, contained errors. 

Even credit reporting agencies make simple errors.Even credit reporting agencies make simple errors.

Check that any defaults you've paid are listed as "settled" or "paid". Also, make doubly sure that there are no incorrect listings or other errors that are unjustifiably affecting your credit score – if you don't do anything about them, they'll be there for five to seven years. Contact the credit reporting agency first, your credit provider or, if neither of those options work, get in touch with an ombudsman scheme or the privacy commissioner. 

3. Have a squiz at your super

Did you know that Australians pay around $20 billion in fees and expenses as a whole? That's according to the Grattan Institute, which argues this number can and should be cut by at least $10 billion. Otherwise, for someone who entered the workforce at 25 years of age in 2010, they could see their retirement balance reduced by as much as 27 per cent over time. 

So have a careful look and see how you could improve your superannuation. It's not just about switching to a fund with lower fees, either. Consider if your current provider is giving you the insurance you need, too. Evaluate the investment performance and think about whether you need to change your strategy. You might even decide to change who the recipient of your super will be in case the worst should happen.

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