Recently, a client, while reflecting on the amount of time she had wasted over the years in getting her finances under control, said that the coming year was going to be different for her. “It’s not too late in 2010!”she exclaimed, reaffirming her decision to carry out all her plans and persevere on the road to financial freedom. “Yes,” I agreed,“2010 is going to be great!“
I think that her impassioned cry, “It’s not too late in 2010!“ is an appropriate theme for all of us as we face the New Year. Looking back on 2009, I’m sure that many of us may have regrets about what we didn’t achieve financially. We might wonder- what’s the point of making New Year’s resolutions if they never get carried out? Let’s decide to forgive ourselves for all our budget-busting spending sprees, missed investing opportunities, and failure to makes plans for our financial future; and become determined to make 2010 a financial success.
Make a list of all the financial resolutions that you really should have accomplished in 2009, but didn’t get around to. Examine your desires and decide which ones you are most likely to achieve if you set your mind to it. It’s important to be realistic when setting your goals. If you don’t have a cent in your bank account and your credit card debt is out of control, then it might not be smart to resolve to own your own home by the end of the year. While it’s not impossible, if your brain thinks your goal is too far-fetched, it won’t believe it, and it won’t help you to find ways to make your dream into reality.
I’ll try to help you make up that financial resolution list by recapping some of the advice presented in this column over 2009. Here are ten ways in which you can make a big financial difference:
It’s not too late in 2010 to……
1. Make a spending and income plan (budget).
Be honest about the true state of your finances. Document how you spend your money and see if your income can really cover your expenses. If it can’t, the budget will show you exactly how much your shortfall is.
2. Cut back on unnecessary spending.
If you capture all your expenditure, you’ll probably find that there are some non-essentials that receive too much of your money. Wouldn’t it be great if you re-directed some of this money into investing towards your financial goals?
3. Pay yourself first.
Decide that the first person to benefit from your pay cheque will be you. Resolve to take out at least five to ten percent of your income and put it aside in an investment account. Make it automatic by using a salary deduction or standing order.
4. Start an emergency account.
Don’t get caught unawares in 2010 by a disaster or medical emergency. Start building up a rainy-day fund and target to save at least three to six months of your living expenses.
5. Write an action plan for your goals.
Resolve to turn your financial wish list into a reality. That house or car or business can be yours, if you just write the action plan to get it done, and carry out all the necessary steps. Get help from a financial institution that offers free advice.
6. Get rid of bad debt.
Reduce your dependence on payroll advances, credit cards and high-interest personal loans to finance everyday expenses. Use your budget to help you live within your means, and make sacrifices to pay your debt down faster. Seek professional credit help if necessary.
7. Become a savvy investor.
Educate yourself about the different investment opportunities that are available and seek expert financial advice on how best to maximize your money.
8. Start saving for your retirement.
Don’t put off planning for retirement until it’s staring you in the face. Many people will have to work until they die or depend on the goodness of relatives, because they failed to save towards retirement. Visit an advisor who can help you plan for this big lifestyle change.
9. Teach your children to be money-smart.
Show your kids (or your young relatives) how they can earn money, and encourage them to invest it instead of spending it all. Become a good role model by practicing what you preach.
10. Give thanks by giving back.
Create abundance in your life by giving regularly to the less fortunate among us. Set aside time and money to help others who truly need our assistance.
So, approach your new financial year fearlessly and positively, and resolve that 2010 is going to be great!
Copyright © Cherryl Hanson Simpson.