The new year means you can create a new you, or keep building on the foundation you already have. To help you on your way, here are eight steps to ensure you have the best financial year of your life.
1. Get inspired
Without inspiration none of the steps below will work.
You need great goals, dreams with a deadline, to spur you (and perhaps your family too) on towards success. Depending on your personality and situation, you might be inspired by:
security and safety,
meaningful experiences such as perhaps travel or early retirement,
dreams of achievement,
- rather than dreams of possession and consumption. Too many goals of this nature will often fall by the wayside.
As no two people are the same, you should seek and find inspiration in a way that suits you. Once you've got it, be sure to write your goals down.
2. Review your finances
Once you're backed by inspiration and know where you want to be, the next step is to do a run-through of your finances and get an idea of where you're currently at.
A few essential questions to ask yourself:
If you changed nothing, would you be on track to meet your financial goals in 12 months time?
Were there any personal changes over the last year, such as your family, personal circumstances, location, living arrangements and goals?
Were there any financial changes over the last year, such as your income, bills, expenses, insurance, investments, debt and savings?
What areas need more focus and improvement?
3. Earn more
Who wouldn't want to earn more this year? By simply earning more money, it can allow you to achieve so many other goals. There are many ways to earn more money:
Focus on advancement at your full-time employer.
Grab a part-time gig to make the most of your free time.
Sell spare household and pastime items.
If you've retired already, then earning more may mean investing rather than having funds sit idle in bank savings accounts and term deposits.
4. Spend less
This is a no-brainer, but we thought we'd mention it anyway!
5. Invest in yourself
Investing in yourself is essential to growing and almost always pays off. It may include obtaining a new qualification, gaining a new skill, or improving your time efficiency.
6. Remember to give
While your budget may be stretched at this time of year, giving to worthwhile causes should always be kept in mind and offers many benefits, including:
Makes a positive impact in the world.
Makes you feel good.
Can strengthen your personal values.
Can help your family members, including children, practice gratitude and see the benefits of generosity.
7. Protect your family and yourself
How you protect yourself will vary on your circumstances, for example:
Everybody needs an emergency fund that can be accessed at short notice without disturbing long-term investments. The usual guideline for this is to ensure the contingency fund equals three to six months worth of household expenses.
If you have reason to preserve wealth, family trusts are still the best way to protect assets, though they don't work in all instances and do have drawbacks.
If you have anyone who depends on your income you probably need insurance policies such as life and income protection.
If you're self-employed or running a small business, you probably need a range of risk management measures.
8. Act immediately
Reviewing all the points above means nothing if it's not backed with action. To get things underway you need to act right now.
Just remember that you don't need to be too strict on yourself, either - it will only create unnecessary stress and disappointment. Instead, start with some little steps now and start making better daily choices which will snowball over time.