It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement when you’re planning something like an overseas holiday, car purchase, home renovation or wedding – after all, these are some of the biggest moments in your life.
With moments this big, preparation is key. If you do the right research, you’ll minimise the damage of any surprises and potentially save yourself a lot of money.
Buying a car
The surprise: It turns out to be a dud
It doesn’t matter if it’s used or brand new, getting a car is a big deal. The last thing you want is a surprise repair that could cost you hundreds, so follow these steps before you purchase to minimise the risk of a surprise.
- Get a trusted mechanic to do an inspection of the vehicle before you buy it. This will give you a good idea of any damage history or ongoing issues.
- Put the car through some solid testing when you take it for a test drive. Use the handbrake on a steep hill to ensure it’s correctly adjusted, turn the radio off and listen for any strange noises, and if you’re not car-savvy bring an auto-expert friend along during the drive.
- If you are buying a used car, do a check to see if the car is stolen or has any other legal issues from its previous owner. You just need to get the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and check it against this government database.
Renovating the house
The surprise: Red tape and costly repairs
When it’s time to spruce up your house it’s great to think ahead so you don’t get any surprise expenses.
- Speak to your builder and local council to ensure you have all the permits you need to avoid fees.
- When choosing a contractor, talk to a few different options and see if they have done projects similar to yours before. Visit a past renovation they have done to see if it aligns with what you want. Also check they have the right accreditations and professional indemnity insurance.
- If you’re doing your own repairs or renovations, get a professional to do a thorough inspection before you start to see if there’s any structural damage you don’t know about.
Taking a trip
The surprise: Getting caught out without enough money overseas
Your bags are packed, your itinerary is all planned out and your passport is burning a hole in your pocket. You’re excited for your trip, so the last thing you want is any surprises.
- Speak to your bank about travel payments and if you are able to use your regular card overseas. While you’re at it, tell them your travel dates so they know you’re overseas.
- Visit the Smart Traveller website for hints and tips.
- Think about how you’re going to get in touch with people. If you use your phone overseas you may be charged roaming fees, so explore options with your phone provider or look into getting a cheap phone with a new SIM card while you’re over there.
Boosting your skills
The surprise: Pricey resources and content you didn’t expect
Everyone who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is kidding themselves. A new course or qualification is a great way to get ahead in your career or find a new passion.
- If you’re tossing up between a few different courses, research the teacher and read into some of the things they’ve written in the past to see if they interest you.
- Textbooks can always be a bit of a dint in your savings. Try searching for the textbooks you need on Student VIP Textbooks to buy them secondhand.
- If you’re studying while working, flag with your manager if you have class after or before work so they can help you manage your time.
Life definitely has its unexpected moments, but there are plenty of ways to prepare so you don’t get thrown off.
Last of all, if you’re paying for any big life moments with a personal loan, find a loan that has no surprises so you know what to expect.
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