By Amanda Morrall
Greetings dear readers and welcome to 2012. Here's my top five personal finance links for January 12, 2012. I welcome your feedback and/or suggestions. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1) 2012 goals
I'm not usually one for New Year's resolutions but this year is different. Having made significant strides towards all my goals (both personal and professional) in 2011, I have come to appreciate just how powerful goal setting is. I see personal finance as the intersection of one's abilities, efforts and goals, so my financial wish-list is embedded within that paradigm. Others, including moneybeagle.com, take a more bullet point approach. I expect that works too so long as you understand why you are trying to achieve those objectives and more importantly how you'll accomplish them. In other words, you need to be SMART about financial goal setting.
Here's a gentle little primer via getrichslowly.com explaining what a SMART financial goal looks like.
2) Probing questions
One of the cardinal rules in journalism is there is no such thing as a stupid question. Actually, I have heard a few in my day but it hasn't stopped me from assailing both sources and myself with an endless barrage of questions. According to wealthpilgrim.com this is a good thing as the inquiry is ultimately a profitable one and offers the carnival of personal finance ask-the-right questions edition as proof.
3) Mixing and matching
There are some strong views in personal finance about debt reduction particularly when it comes to paying off the mortgage above all other investments. Some swear this is the best value for money and quickest way to free up money to invest elsewhere. Others maintain you can achieve a similar if not better outcome by scaling back in other spending areas and redirecting that money. I tend to share moneycrush.com's view here that it's not a one size fits all approach in personal finance. It very much depends on your global circumstances and behaviours.
4) Free apps
Rather late in the game, I've discovered the wonderful world of apps. It's mind blowing just how many are out there and all the various functions. Here's an interesting piece from investopedia comparing the Android and iPhone markets for apps. I'm staring enviously at my colleague's new iPhone right now but little does he know android is more bountiful when it comes to free apps. I love the free stuff, if it serves a useful purpose.
5) Renter's angst
For the time being, I'm wedded to Auckland. As I like the city it's more or less a joyous affair although I'll admit to feelings of infidelity after 10 consecutive days of rain but also being reminded about how much higher rents are in the City of Sails. Median rents nationwide were up last month and although Auckland's median rent was down slightly, it's on average $180 a week higher still.
See for yourself how median rents across the regions differ and how they've changed over the years. Then check out our buy versus rent section to find how where it makes more financial sense to take the plunge into home ownership.