2018 has arrived. Are you starting it off on the right foot financially?
It’s easy to get excited about the beginning of the year. January overflows with good intentions, the excitement of new year’s resolutions, and the prospects of achieving amazing feats.
Come February and all the excitement has waned. The goals for the year get shrugged off or chucked in the ‘too hard’ basket.
It’s sad but true.
Most people are not going to achieve their new year’s resolutions, especially when they are finance related.
But how about instead of focusing on a goal, we look at changing our habits. One habit at a time.
HABIT 1: AUTOMATING YOUR FINANCES
Last year, I automated my finances and it made a huge difference to my bank balance at the end of the year. The savings were small, but they were there nonetheless.
Put $20 per week into a separate account and you’ll have $1,040 to spend at Christmas time each year. For some that’s a lot, for others it’s nothing at all.
Want to go on that holiday in six months but have no clue how to pay for it? Instead of reaching for the credit card (yes, I’m guilty of this!), figure out how much you need to save each week and automate the funds to be sent to a separate account. The first few weeks may be hard, no they will be hard, but by the third or fourth installment, it will get easier. You’re not going to notice the funds leaving your account and you’re going to get excited about your savings growing.
Need $5,000 for a holiday in nine months, you’re going to have to stash away about $140 per week.
Want to buy a house in 3 years with a $50,000 deposit. Easy done. Automate $320 per week to a home saver account.
The figure is irrelevant. The habit is what matters most.
Go do it. Start on January 1, and don’t look back.
I have automated funds to go to three different accounts.
1. Christmas savings or December spendings. $50 each pay. I get paid twice per month so by year-end that’s $1200 to play with.
2. My son’s bank account gets $20 bimonthly. I’ve upped that to $25. You got to account for inflation, right?!
3. The third is my emergency fund/holiday fund which gets 12% of my income automated to it.
If you’re wondering, what about retirement?! My employer pays 9.5% of my annual income into my superannuation account. I could add more but right now that’s not a priority.
The rest of my funds go on the mortgage, bills and living expenses.
The goal for 2018 is to limit my weekly spending to $80. It’s going to be tough but I think it’s much tougher not being financially comfortable.
The amount can increase depending on my side hustle income. If I hustle hard enough, 10% of any extra income I earn can be added to my fun money stash.
HABIT 2: GETTING OUT OF DEBT
The next thing to do is work out your debt elimination.
Cut up your credit cards and stop using them. Having them in your wallet is a temptation, especially if you have zero self-control. If you think that cutting them up is a bit extreme, put them in a ziplock bag and freeze them, or give them to your best friend for safekeeping (as long as they’re not spenders!).
Start a debt elimination plan. Pay off your smallest loan first. Make extra repayments. Then move on to the next card or loan, until they are all paid off.
Pay extra on the mortgage. Even an extra $100 per month can make a significant difference to the end balance. On a $300,000 mortgage at 4% interest over 30 years, will reduce your loan term to 26.5 years and save you around $28,747 in interest!
HABIT 3: ENJOYING FREE FUN
You need to have a bit of fun. What are some of the things you love doing that don’t include money? Make a list of all the things that make you happy.
- Do the free things every week.
– Spend the day at the beach
– Enjoy a picnic in the park
– Organise a dinner party at home with friends where everyone brings a plate
– Bake cookies with your kids
– Read a book under a tree
– Dance in the rain or put the music on and get your groove on in the living room
– Go for a bike ride
– Explore a new area where you live and document it with photos
- Pick a low-cost activity that you love to look forward to each month.
– Brunch with your closest friends
– An hour at the driving range
– Going to see a new movie at the cinema
- Once a year, treat yourself to something that’s really important to you and puts a smile on your dial.
– Go on a short getaway even if it’s more local than global
– Enjoy a night at the theatre or listening to your favourite band
– Take your family out for a nice dinner
– Book yourself in for a full body massage
– Do something that is special for you
What are you doing this month to start the year off on the right foot financially? Do you automate your savings and bills? Have you come up with a debt repayment plan?