Set financial goals you can reach
It's that time of the year again when we put our best foot forward and make all kinds
of resolutions from losing weight, starting a new hobby, gaining new skills or qualifications or improving our personal finances.
However, more often than not, we quickly fall off the bandwagon when the reality of everyday life hits, challenging our commitments and leaving us feeling overwhelmed.
You can easily forgive yourself for missing the gym more times than you said you would or eating that extra piece of pizza on take-out night, but you should try to take your personal financial goals seriously and stick to them as they will not only help you develop positive money management habits, but will also help you reach your financial freedom goals.
Creating a financial plan
"My trick for 2019 is to make one commitment and stick to it. That's it. Just one. The criteria: it must be personal, measurable and fulfilling," entrepreneur, public speaker and venture capitalist Vusi Thembekwayo says.
According to credit reporting agency, TransUnion's third quarter Consumer Credit index, as consumers we are still facing constrained cash flows in challenging economic times, making it important to plan your finances and your goals for the future.
"A financial plan created around personal, well-considered wealth goals is a living document which will change as your circumstances change.
"It should respond to your needs and lifestyle goals," says independent financial planner Mark MacSymon, who previously won the Financial Planning Institute's (FPI) Financial Planner of the Year.
According to the FPI, the financial new year's resolutions you should stick to include:
Creating and sticking to a budget
Set realistic amounts for all your expenses and then record your spending every month to help you realise what you have to work with, and how much you can save and spend on a monthly basis.
"Holding yourself accountable for every cent you spend through the month gets you into the habit of awareness of what you are doing and how you are spending," MacSymon says.
Reducing your debt
Set specific goals on how much debt you would like, and can afford, to rid yourself of this year.
This means you should stop using your credit cards for more than what you can repay each month or taking out short-term personal loans.
It also means finding extra rands to pay towards your debt.
Saving for an emergency fund
Remember that the size of the fund really depends on your current financial situation. If you are in debt or don't have job security, it makes sense to start off small but if you do not have these challenges, then work on saving between six months to a year of your expenses.
Emergency savings need to be accessible so tying them up in a fixed or notice deposit at the bank is not a good idea and exposure to equities may also cause problems if you need the money when the markets are down. Saving in a money market account or saving additional money into your home loan which you can withdraw at short notice are the best options for emergency savings.
Upgrade your career
Set out your goals for your career for the near term (next year), the medium term (five years) and long term. Consider any skills or experience that can improve your ability to climb the ladder and improve your earning capacity as this is important in securing your financial freedom.
Set up a long-term financial plan
A long-term plan should address all aspects of your finances. The plan should outline a timetable of when you will make big purchases, spend on leisure and personal growth as well as help you develop a strategy for building your wealth. It will help you make your financial goals clear and attainable.
A manageable start
Keeping your financial goals specific makes it easier for you to stick to them and keeps you in control of the process.