The end of the year is an opportune time to reflect on all your achievements over the last 12 months, and is the perfect time to start looking ahead to your goals for the new year.
You don’t have to be a certain age, or in a certain life stage or income bracket, for financial planning. However, it does take a plan to get you to your goals. Whether it’s managing your money to accommodate the rising cost of energy bills, saving for a house deposit, or just wanting a little extra cash for a rainy day (or for play), we’ve got some tips to get you financially fit in 2018.
Define your goals
What do you want to achieve financially in the new year? A really good way to set your objectives and focus your efforts is to set yourself SMART Goals: Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound. For example:
In 2018, I want to automatically transfer $1,000 each month into a separate savings account, so I have an extra $12,000 to go towards my deposit to purchase a 400m2 block of land at Thornhill Park.
Prioritise your long-term and short-term goals
You may have big goals, and smaller goals, and they can each be prioritised for the long or short term. For example, in the long-term you might aim to save for a deposit for a house and land package. However, in the short-term you may want to take out income protection. By having goals with different deadlines, you can feel more accomplished by achieving your goals more regularly.
Think more like Sherlock Holmes
Have a look at your current financial situation and identify possible areas of improvement. Are you buying too many groceries only to throw out rotten fruit and vegetables by the end of the week? Is your credit card interest higher than what another bank offers? Are you renewing your energy providers and insurances without shopping around? Doing this exercise will help you recognise areas where you’re overspending, giving you an instant opportunity to save.
Set a budget
If you want to set yourself a budget but don’t know where to start, consider the 50/20/30 financial rule of thumb:
- 50% of your income should be spent on the essential living expenses like mortgage, rent, bills, transportation costs and groceries
- 20% of your income should be used for your long-term financial goals such as putting money into savings, and some debt repayment like paying off your credit cards
- 30% of your income should be for personal expenses that you want but don’t necessarily need like your Netflix subscription, smashed avo breakfasts, and gym membership
Revisit your goals
The key to accomplishing your goals is to revisit them regularly. Set yourself a 90-day plan and make a habit to check your progress frequently so you can reassess and realign any action items. It’s also a good opportunity to acknowledge the progress you’ve made, to inspire you to stay focused and on track.