Six money lessons I learnt in 2021

When I did make my first investment in May, it was in an exchange-traded fund (ETF) which tracks the returns of the top 200 companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

I fell in love with the passive nature of index fund investing, also picking up units in an international shares index ETF.

I now invest regularly each month, and I am learning to sit back and relax as the index grows over time (albeit it’s a bumpy ride sometimes).

Investing in your super is a great way to save on tax

In May, I finally started taking advantage of the generous tax concessions available on extra contributions to super.

I made a one-off large contribution of my after-tax dollars into my super account before the end of the financial year, scoring me a whopping tax refund of $13,878.

I did this after becoming aware that it is possible to tip up to $28,500 a year into super (including your employer’s contributions) and only pay the ultra-low tax rate of just 15 per cent on your money, rather than your marginal tax rate.

Due to recent changes, it is also possible to roll forward unused contribution cap amounts from previous years, provided your total super balance is less than $500,000.

Going forward, I’ve instructed my employer to start taking out extra amounts of my regular pay to ensure I am using up this year’s contribution cap (but crucially not over it).

It pays to shop around on your mortgage

In June, after an exhaustive search, I switched banks to score a new lower interest rate on my mortgage. Not only did I lock in for two years at 1.84 per cent, I also scored a $4000 non-taxable cash back for my efforts. Always worth asking for a cash-back offer! I shared my five best mortgage shopping tips here.

You will never regret tracking your spending

In July, I published the details of my spending in the 2020-21 financial year, after diligently tracking every dollar I spent.

It was a real eye-opener. Not only has it helped me to hone my future borrowing capacity, I also have a much better idea of the income I will need for a comfortable retirement. I thoroughly recommend giving it a try. You can download and use the PDF Spending Tracker I made and still use here.

It pays to investigate ways to “leverage” your investments

In July, I looked at whether I could borrow to invest in shares. I could, but soon found banks are willing to lend much more to invest in property, prompting perhaps my most talked-about column of the year titled “‘I’d hate me too’: Why I’ve decided to become a property investor”.

Amid spiralling property prices, however, the regulator soon put a dampener on my plans, intervening to decrease the amount borrowers like me can borrow to fund another property purchase. My plans are on ice and I intend to revisit the idea in the new year.

It’s important to know what’s in your super and how it is performing

In July, the government released its new YourSuper comparison tool, which I reviewed here. It sparked a mission for me to try to figure out how exactly where my super fund money is invested. I didn’t get all the answers I wanted.


Next year, I intend to run the numbers on whether I’d be better off trying to self-manage my super or use a fund’s direct investment option. Stay tuned. Until then, I wish you all a very happy Christmas and new year. Don’t go too crazy with the spending, okay? Either way, I’ll be back in the new year to help you keep whipping those finances into shape.

Take care, Jess xx

  • Advice given in this article is general in nature and is not intended to influence readers’ decisions about investing or financial products. They should always seek their own professional advice that takes into account their own personal circumstances before making any financial decisions.

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