Yes, the pandemic has dragged on, but surprisingly, 2021 has left a lot of Australians better off financially.
COVID-19 may have dominated much of our lives, but the property market grabbed its fair share of headlines this year.
No surprises there, with home values soaring 22 per cent nationally over the last 12 months.
According to CoreLogic, that's added an extra $126,700 to the median Australian home value.
The boost in home equity has gone hand-in-hand with a dramatic rise in household savings.
Australians have collectively amassed a $250 billion war chest during the pandemic - at a time when interest rates on deposits are next-to-nothing.
While you're taking a well-earned break this summer, have a think about how much of your savings you want to leave in bank deposits.
Buying into other investments can mean taking on more risk. But inflation has climbed to 3 per cent up from 1 per cent at the start of the year, so money sitting in a savings account is starting to lose its purchasing power at a faster rate.
Despite the disruption of lockdowns and closed borders, 2021 has been a good year for Aussie shares.
As I write, the ASX 200 saw gains of 12 per cent for the year. Add in dividends, and investors have pocketed total returns of 15 per cent.
If you'd like to invest in shares in 2022, but you're not sure which stocks to pick, exchange traded funds can be a simple, low cost solution.
Sharemarket gains have driven healthy returns on super.
SuperRatings says the median balanced option, which is how the majority of us have our nest egg invested, dished up returns of 11.2 per cent for the calendar year to November 2021.
That's nearly 3.5 times the results recorded in 2020, and almost double the yearly average for the past 20 years. Not bad at all.
On the other side of the ledger, rising property prices mean home buyers are taking out bigger mortgages, and there's plenty of buzz around the prospect of rates rising later in 2022.
The latest analysis from RateCity shows we've seen a fair bit of movement in home loan interest rates this year despite the cash rate holding firm at 0.1 per cent.
As we head into Christmas, there is still a good selection of variable rate home loans - and some fixed rate loans, with rates below 2 per cent.
That said, the best home loan deals are going to new customers.
So, it's worth using some holiday down-time to see how your mortgage interest rate stacks up. Or ask a mortgage broker to do the comparison for you.
Refinancing to a new loan does come with costs but it has the potential to put extra cash back in your pocket in 2022.
To all my readers, I'd like extend my best wishes for a wonderful festive season and a very prosperous New Year. I'll catch up with you again in 2022.
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