Happy (debt free) new year!

For many of my clients 2015 is the year they've professed to rid themselves of credit card and personal debt. A worthy but challenging goal. If you have made similar resolutions, here are my top three tips to take control of your finances this year.

1. Get clarity with a budget

This one didn't surprise you did it? Predictable it may be, but taking the time to document debts and other essential expenses against income is necessary to truly understand the opportunities to save (or make more) money.

A clear understanding of your disposable income will allow you to allocate a regular amount to pay off debts. My biggest tip - don't set yourself up to fail by expecting to use all of your disposable income to paying off debt. It's important you're still able to enjoy 2015 or you'll likely quit early on and feel bad about it later. Make your monthly goal realistic and set up automatic debt repayments on pay day.

2. Save on your outgoings

One of the easiest ways to save can be to review your expenses (in your newly created budget) and find better deals on insurance premiums. You can often save money by shopping around freeing up more cash to redirect onto your credit card.

I can help by reviewing your home loan and, if you have multiple credit card debts or personal loans, consolidation may be possible to reduce interest and simplify your repayments.

3. Take back control of your credit card

The interest rate on credit cards can be high so look into how you can save money by switching or transferring balances. Some lenders offer a 12 month interest free period which saves you money and provides a goal date to pay it off by. You can also speak to your bank about the credit cards they offer with lower interest rates. You may be able to simply transfer your balance to another product and save.

While you're working hard to pay off credit card debt try to minimise using it for additional purchases. It's important to start practising conscious spending where you consider each purchase and are mindful of tallying the debt you'll need to pay back. Work towards being able to pay off the total amount owing on your card every month to avoid paying interest.