Getting more exercise, going to bed earlier, cutting back on chocolate, and finally going on that overseas trip are all admirable New Year’s resolutions... What about that essential sphere of life that will be the source of your funding for 2018: your finances? Take control of your money matters and turn your finances around in 2018 with these eight achievable New Year’s resolutions!
Financial Goal #1: Build an emergency fund
Enough scraping through... the first step towards stabilizing your finances is to build an emergency fund that will keep you away from your credit cards and out of debt should your income be compromised, or you require quick access to capital. A fully-fledged emergency fund should be sufficient to sustain you and your family for at least three months in the event that you cannot work. So, the sooner you set one started, the better.
Financial Goal #2: Pay off all your short-term debts
Debt, especially short-term debt like credit cards and short-term loans, can become costly, so prioritise paying them off as soon as you can and then focus on saving.
Financial Goal #3: Develop a monthly budget habit
The most effective way to achieve financial goals #1 and #2 is to create a strict monthly budget. If you’ve been budgeting for several years, you’ve probably developed the necessary habits. However, if this is all new to you, you must be strict and account for every penny that goes out of your pocket. Remember, don’t allow your spending habits to determine your budget. Rather, your budget should determine your spending habits so sit down today and plan for 2018.
Financial Goal #4: Reduce your expenses
If you don’t have an emergency fund in place and you’re only now learning how to budget, use this opportunity to review your expenses and see where you can cut back. Writing down a detailed list of every transaction you make in one month is a great way to put things into perspective: it helps you realise just how many automatic deductions go off your account, which of them are redundant, and how frivolous much of your spending is. Could you get cheaper phone packages for your teenagers? Do you have to eat out three times a week? Most people could save upwards of R1,000 simply by cutting back on frivolous spending.
Financial Goal #5: Educate yourself and read a book on personal finance
There is a fantastic variety of recommended books on personal finance that have been written for the layperson. They’re easy to read, incredibly informative and will give you the tools to take control of your money matters. Make it your goal to read at least one of them this year. Alternatively, if you prefer your education on the go, you could always listen to a personal finance podcast. Here’s our list of top five podcasts.
Financial Goal #6: Automate your savings and investing
An excellent way to formalise your commitment to saving is to set up an automatic transfer into your savings account on payday. This way, you prioritise saving and if you forget to make the transfer yourself, you won’t find yourself tempted to spend the money.
Financial Goal #7: Plan the 2018 festive season ahead of time
One way to save potentially thousands of Rands is to plan well ahead for the 2018 festive season. Buy your gifts and stock up early, making full use of the promotions and specials that happen throughout the year. Spread the festive season expenses over the course of the year and by December next year, you’ll find yourself relaxed, prepared, and a few thousand Rands richer!
Financial Goal #8: Create a 5-year plan
Short-term goals are incredibly important for developing healthy spending and saving habits. However, you also need to focus on the long term game, especially if you’d like to own property, rather than rent it; buy a nice car, rather than constantly fix the one you have; and become financially free, rather than living in debt. Sit down with your significant other and create a 5-year plan for yourself and/or your family, which should be a patchwork quilt of smaller monthly goals and medium annual goals.