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Welcome to 2013!

You know, without deadlines most of us procrastinate and put off thinks we need to get some. That's why 30 June and 31 December are so important each year - these dates prompt us to take certain actions (e.g. pay money into Super to get a tax deduction) that we otherwise might not get around to doing.

But instead of rushing to do things a few days out from a deadline, why not PLAN AHEAD for the next 12 months to ensure your financial future will be one of better wealth and happiness?

Here are some key areas that you may need to focus on:

1. A Super Plan
The most you can salary sacrifice is now only $25,000 per year. How is your super invested? Is the investment mix right for you? Should you have a Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF)? Should you save cash and have your life insurances paid from your super?

2. Repay Debt
It's great that you're getting your debt down, but there's no point paying more off your mortgage only yo run up a credit card balance. In the debt stakes, always pay off whatever has the highest interest rate, and that probably won't be your mortgage. And once the credit cards are under control, why not use an Offset Account attached to your mortgage? Money parked there is like paying off the mortgage, and is tax free, but you can get it back to use in an emergency.

3. Savings
As interest rates drop, you need to squeeze the most out of your savings. Online at-call accounts often have lower features but offer the best rates. If you have reasonable savings, perhaps put some in a term deposit as a hedge against falling rates. But don't forget, the best way to save is the mortgage offset account - it's a higher rate, tax free.

4. Shares
You should review your shareholdings every year, and you may as well do it now so you don't forget. Re-balancing is what advisors call selling out of one share and buying more of another is they've moved out of kilter, So if one share has shot up, you take some profits by selling some of your holding and buying more of one that hasn't moved or even dropped, as long as you're still happy it will be a good investment. With brokerage so low, you can afford to buy or sell in smaller amounts and you're not trying to time the market, which is impossible.

5. Pay Yourself
Expenses expand to fit the income available. Or exceed it. So the best hope you have of saving is to treat is as an expense as well. Then you have no choice, do you? A rule of thumb is to immediately put close to 10% as you can of each pay into a savings account or mortgage offset account - without starving r reverting to your credit card. Just to be sure, set up a direct debit so you never have to think about it.

6. Check the Mortgage
Unless you're paying less than 0.5% less than a bank's advertised home loan rate, you're being ripped off. The banks are offering discounts just for asking and there are many loans out there less than 6%. Should you fix your interest rate? Yes, some of it, especially is you can fix at or below what you're already paying. To have more certainty of fixing it all, you'll needs to weigh up the likelihood of more interest rate cuts in 2013 and the loss of flexibility against the fact this is about as low as fixed rates go.

7. Tax
Start collecting those receipts and thinking about the tax implications of your investments. Hiding in bank savings accounts or term deposits isn't getting you ahead in real terms. What inflation doesn't take out, tax will. The two best Government sanctioned ways of avoiding tax are super and franked dividends from shares.

8. Get Started with your LifePlanTM
To Ensure you can take the best actions NOW to create a better financial future, you need a LIFEPLAN. A LifePlan helps guide you to the answers to these 2 questions:
1. Why do you work/run a business?
2. Where will you be in 10 year's time?
A LifePlan will visually demonstrate to you how much you can afford or should spend or invest today in order to provide for a better financial future.