By Peter Switzer

The respected business journalist, Elizabeth Knight, writing in the SMH posed the question: “Where are the answers to our problem banks?”

The answer is not right in front of you but not all that far away.

Of course, for a country so worried about our banks, with 68% of people wanting a Royal Commission, according to a poll by The Australia Institute, it might be a good idea if we stopped being experts on such trivial matters such as why Andrew Fifita wasn’t selected for the NRL’s Kangaroos, Kim Kardashian and the Budgie Nine at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Yep, if the country has a bank problem then let the people of the country solve it themselves by wising up, reading smart stuff and hanging out with the right crowd.

How come “caveat emptor” or let the buyer beware works in so many aspects of our retail life, but somehow we need excessive protection from our banks? In reality, we need protection from our own laziness and unprofessional ways when it comes to something really important — our money.

I’m going to list a few really sensible things that all Australians should know to pretty well bullet-proof their money life. And you don't need another big brother Government inquiry to deliver you results that will protect you from the hip-pocket threats out there.

So here goes:

  1. Create a list of all of the financial products you have from your super fund to bank accounts to insurance policies to loans.
  2. Go through each policy, noting all costs and/or returns from them.
  3. Go to comparison websites such as www.finder.com.au, www.ratecity.com.au, www.iSelect.com.au, www.superratings.com.au, and so on to make sure you have great deals on loans, term deposits, credit cards, insurance policies, energy prices, leases, etc.
  4. If you are 50 years of age plus, join the FiftyUp Club from my mates at 2GB at www.fiftyupclub.com for a range of money-saving deals.
  5. Go to a mortgage broker to see if you have the best home loan deal or simply see if you can do better than www.switzerhomeloans.com.au where our variable home loan rate is 3.89% with no fees, etc., so our advertised rate and comparison rate are exactly the same, unlike a lot of lenders. (Sorry about the plug but I’m plugging everyone else and we do have a great, damn honest deal!) Importantly, find out what your super fund costs and returns and compare it to this list: 

Source: Chant West, 19 July 2016 media release (www.chantwest.com.au)

(*Performance is net of investment fees and taxes. The returns in the table are before any administration fees or adviser commissions are deducted. The performance data is based on Chant West figures, and the table ranking is based on individual investment options offered by a superannuation fund, and the investment options involved in the ranking process look after assets worth $1 billion or more.

6. Switch your 17-20% credit card to the ME Frank Credit Card at 11.99%, or the Coles Low Rate MasterCard at 9.99%.

7. Once you have all your info together and you know what you are paying and what you could be paying, go to your bank and twist some arms for a matching or better deals.

This is just a seven-step plan to get you money smart and to protect your hip pocket from the scary world of banking, which we make scarier than it has to be by being so unprofessional about how we operate with money.

One day you might find trustworthy accountants and financial planners who will help you grow your wealth. And out of that, you can teach your children about what an adult should know and be doing about money.

A few years back, 2GB’s Alan Jones referred a listener to me who was in business and in hot water after borrowing too much for a home and business. He needed help, but said he was encouraged to over-borrow by his Dad. He reflected on his life and admitted that his old man had been a bad role model. This guy cried as he asked me to show him how he could be a good money example for his kids!

He potentially was going to lose his business, his house and wife, which can be powerful motivators to lift your money game. As I always joke, if anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing for money but as parents it’s even bigger than just the bottom line — we need to give great guidance to the ones we love.

I hope this little education piece spurs on many to lift their game but my greatest fear is that not enough people will read it. So pleas for a long, expensive and ultimately a political Royal Commission will be called for and might even happen.

Every morning I try to make the world of money, finance and getting richer easier to understand, so reading me or someone else who also does this too might be a great first step to bulletproofing your money life from all of the threats out there. That said, the greatest problem is our lack of commitment to building our wealth and only you can change that.