The start of a new year sees many people setting new year's resolutions such as starting that new hobby or learning that new skill.
Similarly, the beginning of a new year is the ideal time for setting financial goals to get yourself ahead, help save for something special, or to simply get rid of some debt. Here are four practical ways you can ensure those resolutions and goals make it past January and through to the end of the year.
1. Decide what you want to achieve.
January is perfect for taking stock of where you're at financially, particularly as many of us recover from the additional expenses that come with Christmas and school holidays. Perhaps you'd like to start by paying off any lingering debt or commence a savings plan for whatever stage of life you might be at - a new car, a new member of the family, or a family holiday. The main thing is to be decisive with your goal.
2. Set a realistic household budget
This will provide understanding of your finances and identify areas of unnecessary spending. A budget will not only assist in balancing your income and expenses, but will help you clear debt and allocate money to other financial goals like setting up an emergency cash fund.
Try our online budget planner tool, or if you'd prefer to start off with something more simple to get yourself into a budgeting and saving habit check out our article What is bucketing and how can it help you save? which explains the easy method of splitting your income into sub accounts (or 'buckets') to help you save.
3. Tidy up your filing cabinet.
According to the Australian Taxation Office, you should keep financial records for five years. Shred financial paperwork older than five years and file everything else, including bills, invoices and bank statements. Remember that any filing system you implement, whether digital or paper, should be quickly and easily maintained so you're motivated to keep your records in order.
Check out our article Sorting your financial paperwork: what to keep and how long for to get even more helpful tips.
4. Review your paperwork
Start with insurances – life insurance, house, car etc. Are they current and are you adequately covered? Are your premiums appropriate for your level of cover?
Assess your superannuation and nomination of beneficiary. Is your will up to date or have your circumstances changed?
While the idea of setting a new year's resolution is common, sticking to resolutions and accomplishing them are less so. A couple tips of tips to consider are:
- Write down your goal or have or have it somewhere accessible as a reminder. The year can often start our strong with all our good intentions, but in moments where it gets hard or you feel like you're missing out its time to remind yourself of that goal and why you initially set it.
- Set small achievable goals for each month. Rather than stating you want to save $15,000 by the end of the year, work out how much you need to save each month or each time you get paid and if there are any small changes to your current spending you need to make to reach that goal.
- Be consistent and accountable. If you did splurge on something that has thrown out your savings goal for the month acknowledge it and keep on going. The worst thing you can do is to stop working towards your goal altogether because you feel as through you made a mistake. Remember, saving shouldn't feel like a complete sacrifice to everything you enjoy.
- Enjoy the small wins along the way. Milestones are important so each time you reach your monthly goal or a number that feels significant to you, whether it be $500 or $5,000, take a moment to soak up that good feeling.
With a little planning and organisation, being clear about what you want to achieve, and mapping out how and by when you expect to achieve it, you'll be giving yourself the best possible start to a successful year.
This information provides general advice only. We do not provide advice based on any consideration of your personal objectives, needs or circumstances. If you require personal financial advice about your situation, we can refer you to Alliance Wealth Pty Ltd AFSL 449221 ABN 93 161 647 007 ('Alliance Wealth') for financial advice. For full details of our relationship with Alliance Wealth and its Corporate Authorised Representative, Financial Advice Matters Group Pty Ltd, please visit www.auswidebank.com.au/financialadvice