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5 easy money lessons to help you get ahead


Ever feel like you're stuck in a financial rut? These simple steps from money expert Vanessa Stoykov could be just the ticket for getting back on track.

When it comes to money, most of us know we want to get ahead, but actually doing that can be challenging. With everyday bills to pay, as well as the big ticket items like holidays or a home, it can often mean there is not enough to go around.

No matter what your goals are with money, it all starts with a process that can help you move beyond these everyday challenges so that you're closer to where you want to be.

The process we're looking at today is both big-picture and detailed in its approach. It allows you to think of your financial life as part of getting the overall life you want.

Many of our sporting celebrities on Secrets of the Money Masters learned this process and began to apply it straight away to their finances. They found it made a big difference very quickly.

This process isn't just for sports stars though – it can work for anyone. So here are five tips you can get started with today.

1. Know your goals

What do you want, big-picture, from your life? You can't plan it if you don't know. Spend a couple of hours planning out your big picture plan, then you can work back from there to more immediate goals. I've made a simple, free journal here (.pdf) to help you start. This is the fun part of the process – go ahead and dream!

2. Now you need to get there

And you can't do that without knowing what your overheads are. Many of us are spending more than we earn simply because we don't know what our total monthly costs are. I suggest you use a budget tool to figure this out.

For instance, the government site MoneySmart has a budget tracker that shows you exactly what you are spending monthly and annually. You can even save and update it as things change. It's a bit of work to fill in details for expenses like your electricity bill, Internet and insurance payments, but once's it done, the power to trim (or otherwise) is yours.

3. Sort out your long term savings plan with super

Super is the most tax-effective savings pool you will ever have (outside of a family home). Some super funds include projections or a calculator that can show you, at your current age, what you should end up with in retirement. The MoneySmart website also has a super calculator you can use.

To work out if your estimated super balance will allow you to live comfortably when you retire, you can divide the final number shown on a calculator by how many years you think you would live. If you think that's not enough, then you could experiment with the calculator to see what happens if you increase your super contributions. You can really see the difference that putting more of your salary into super can make – even if it's just 12% or 15% rather than 9.5%.

4. Start saving outside of super with investing

Investing some of your money outside of super (or a savings account) can make a big difference to your wealth. If you don't know anything about it yet, then start educating yourself on all the different options. There are many different resources you can access around investing and share trading. Even the ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) has a learning centre with information for first-time investors.

5. Hustle hard to get more money in the door

In order to increase your super, and invest outside of it, you need to get as much cash in as possible. Especially if you are young and don't have the expenses that come from having kids – this is the easiest time to set aside cash to make your dreams come true. Get a side hustle and get the dollars in while you can.

Don't wait until it's too late – learn the secrets of money early, and enjoy your life.

Podcast: Vanessa Stoykov on how to sort out your super

Vanessa Stoykov is a money expert who writes books and creates TV shows to educate everyday people on how to grow their wealth. To learn more from her go to

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article (which may be subject to change without notice) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Finder and its employees. The information contained in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, investment advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort. Neither the author nor Finder have taken into account your personal circumstances. You should seek professional advice before making any further decisions based on this information.

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