Financial decisions you'll regret later

Financial decisions you'll regret later

For most people in their 20s and 30s, life is about enjoyment, flexibility and abundant experiences – and that’s a good thing.

Financial decisions aren’t often given much consideration, however, and that’s where things can come unstuck later. That’s because the decisions we make early on can have a lasting impact on the rest of our lives.

Here are the biggest financial decisions – or indecisions – you will regret later.

Spending more than you earn

In this age of readily available credit, it’s easy to spend more than you earn. Using your credit card for major purchases can allow you to own things now, even when you don’t have the cash to pay for them. Sure, that’s convenient, but it’s also a surefire way to land into uncontrollable debt.

“You should always spend less than you earn,” advises financial adviser Steve Crawford, director of Experience Wealth.

“To make it easier, break it down into timeframes that make sense to you. For example, save for 10 months of the year by spending less than you earn and you can spend more in the other two months – one month might be a holiday, the other might be Christmas. If 10 months out of 12 you’re winning, it will compensate for the other two.”

Not saving early enough

It’s easy to put off saving in favour of another expensive dinner out or that must-have pair of shoes, perhaps reasoning that you can always start saving next month – or the month after. But the younger you start saving, the more money you’ll have to invest or to achieve your financial goals thanks to the power of compound interest.

Compound interest is earning interest on your interest income, and the longer you allow your savings to compound, the better off you will be. Starting a savings plan at age 25 rather than 35 can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your savings by retirement age. The longer you wait to start saving, the more you miss out on the benefits of compound interest.

Not being prepared

It’s not something most of us like to think about, but its pays to be financially prepared for unexpected events, such as losing your job or becoming ill and unable to work.

That’s where income protection insurance can be a life saver. It is a monthly payment, up to 75 percent of your previous income, paid in the event that you cannot return to work after an accident, illness or major trauma.

“Your lifestyle is based on your salary, and that’s worth protecting,” says Marc Bineham, director at Noall & Co and vice president of the Association of Financial Advisers. “You need income protection at any age, as accidents can happen at any time.”

Not keeping track of your spending

Knowing where and how you spend your money is a powerful thing – it gives you a heightened awareness of your money and as a result you are less likely to spend frivolously.

“The main thing is to have an idea of your cash flow,” says Bineham. “It’s amazing how much that does for your long-term savings. It makes you think twice about your spending, so it’s a very powerful thing to have that understanding, particularly at a young age.”

Not buying your own home

While renting can give you great flexibility to move around and live in areas you may not be able to afford to buy in, owning your home is a wiser financial decision in the long run.

“From a financial planning perspective, it makes good financial sense to own your own home,” said Deborah Kent, owner of Integra Financial Services.

“While you may be young now and not worried about it, you don’t want to be in the precarious situation of not owning your own home in retirement – it adds an extra layer of financial stress. Rents are high if you don’t have enough to retire on.”

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Learn more about credit cards

How does credit card interest work?

Generally, when we talk about credit card interest, we mean the purchase interest rate, which is the interest charged on purchases you make with your credit card.

If you don’t pay your full balance each month (or even if you pay the minimum amount), you are charged interest on all the outstanding transactions and the remaining balance. However, interest is also charged on cash advances, balance transfers, special rate offers and, in some cases, even the fees charged by the company.

The interest rate can vary, depending on the credit card. Some have an interest-free period, otherwise you start paying interest from the day you make a purchase or from the day your monthly statement is issued. So avoid interest by paying the full amount promptly.

How to get money from a credit card

You can get money from a credit card, but generally it will cost you.

Withdrawing money from a credit card is called a cash advance, as it operates more as a loan than a simple cash withdrawal. Because it is a loan, you may be charged interest on your cash advance as soon as you make the withdrawal. Interest rates are also usually much higher for cash advances than standard credit card purchases.

In addition to the interest rate, you may also be charged a cash advance fee. This could be a flat rate, or a percentage of your total cash advance. If you are considering a cash advance, make sure to add up how much it will cost you before committing.

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a payment method which lets you pay for goods and services without using your own money. It’s essentially a short-term loan which lets you borrow the bank’s money to pay for things which you can pay back – potentially with interest – at a later date. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, which is known as a cash advance. Because you’re borrowing money from a bank, credit cards charge you interest on the money you use (unless you repay the entire debt during the interest-free period). When you apply for a credit card, the bank gives you a credit limit which sets the maximum amount you can borrow using your card. Credit cards are one of the most popular methods of payments and can be a convenient way of paying for goods and services in store, online and all around the globe.

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

How to get a free credit card

There's no such thing as a free lunch. All credit cards come with associated costs when used to make purchases, even if it’s simply the cost of making repayments.

However, many lenders offer incentives for customers such as a $0 annual fee or 0 per cent interest on purchases during an introductory period. Additionally, paying off your balance in full during an interest-free period means you could only have to pay back the cost of purchases without interest. You could also be eligible for additional rewards such as cashback during that time, saving you more money.

How do I apply for a BOQ credit card limit increase?

If you’re an existing BOQ customer, you can request a BOQ credit card limit increase over a phone call. However, you should remember that owning and using a credit card is a matter of financial responsibility, so it might be worth thinking this decision through. 

When requesting a credit card limit increase, you’ll need to be just as responsible in terms of how much you earn and can set aside to repay the outstanding card balance. A credit card company may approve a credit limit increase only if you can show that you have either the income or the disposable income, which is the amount you have left after all expenses have been paid out.

For this purpose, you may need to submit your latest income documents and bank statements for an increase. You may want to estimate how much you usually have left after deducting your expenses, and then use this amount to try and convince the credit card company. Also, you may prefer to pay off the card balance in full each month and thus avoid paying interest on the card, helping you back up any claims of financial responsibility, as well. 

Remember that you may not be able to apply for a credit card limit increase beyond any limitations on the type of card you own. For instance, if you own a card whose ceiling is $10,000, and your current limit is $5,000, you won't likely be able to apply for a $10,000 credit card limit increase.

How to calculate credit card interest

Credit card interest can quickly turn a manageable balance into unmovable debt. So being able to understand how interest rates translate into dollars is an important skill to acquire.

The common mistake people make is focusing on the credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR), which often sits between 15 and 20 per cent. While the APR does provide a rough idea of how much interest you’ll pay, it’s not entirely accurate.

This is because you actually accrue interest on your balance daily, not annually. So, you need to work out your daily periodic rate (DPR). To do this, divide your card’s APR by the number of days in a year (e.g. 16.9 per cent divided by 365, or 0.05 per cent). You can then apply this figure to the daily balance on your credit card.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

Why should I check my credit rating?

There are two reasons you should check your credit rating: so you have a better understanding of your financial position, and so you can take action (if necessary) to improve your credit rating.

Lenders use credit ratings or credit scores to assess loan applications. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged lower interest rates and lower fees. Conversely, the lower your credit score, the less likely you are to get approved, and the more likely you are to be charged higher interest rates and higher fees.

How does the Citibank credit card instalment plan work?

The Citibank credit card instalment plan is designed to help you make repayments on purchases over a predetermined period of time.It is similar to buy now, pay later services, and you can choose a plan that suits your financial situation.

You can set up a fixed payment option for up to five recent purchases each worth at least $500. Alternatively, there’s a cash-out option, where the issuer pays you between $500 and the maximum credit limit via a cheque, which can then be repaid in fixed instalments over your chosen duration.

How is credit card interest charged?

Your credit card will be charged interest when you don’t pay off the balance on your credit card. Your card provider or bank charges you the individual interest rate that is associated with your card, which is usually between 10 and 20 per cent. 

The interest will be added onto your bill each month or billing period if you don’t pay off the balance, unless you are in an interest-free period.

You will be charged interest on anything that hasn’t been paid for inside the interest-free period. Usually you will receive a notice on your bill or statement saying you will be charged interest so you have some form of notice before you’re charged.

How do you pay off credit cards?

The best way to pay off a credit card bill is to set a realistic spending budget and stick to it. Each month, you’ll get a credit card statement detailing how much you owe and how long it will take to pay off the balance by making minimum repayments. If you only make the minimum repayments, it will take you years to pay off your outstanding balance and add extra costs in interest charges. To avoid any extra charges, you should pay the entire bill. 

How do credit cards work?

Think of credit cards as a short-term loan where you use the bank’s money to buy something up front and then pay for it later. Unlike a debit card which uses your own money to pay, a credit card essentially borrows the bank’s money to fund the purchase. When you apply for a credit card, the bank assesses your income and assigns you a credit limit based on what you can afford to pay back. At the end of each billing cycle, which is usually monthly, the bank will send you a statement showing the minimum amount you have to pay back, including any interest payable on the balance.

Where can I get a credit card?

Looking to get your first credit card? You might be confused as to exactly where to go to apply for one. Here’s where to go when you are ready to put in that application.

The bank: Your bank is a great place to start, provided that you have a good banking history. Since you already have a financial history, you have more chance of your application being approved.

Credit card provider: Another option is to apply for a credit card directly from the issuer, such as Visa, Mastercard or Amex. This will most likely be an online application, so do your research and apply for a suitable card for your circumstances.

Major retailers: Coles, Woolworths, Myer and David Jones all have credit cards available. But watch out for the interest rate and annual fees – these cards are designed to help you spend more in store.