At the turn of each year, we all have our dreams and we possess new energy levels to achieve them. This individual expectation is like a cycle. Everybody wants to succeed, at least in their minds but not everybody will. Below is a list of 25 actions you should take if you want to improve your personal finance this year.
1. REVIEW THE PAST YEAR: The first thing you should do is to analyze the past year. Research has shown that of the lots that make ‘new financial resolutions’ every year, less than 10% actually get to follow those resolutions through the year. Does it not bother you that at the beginning of last year, you also made resolutions that you failed at? Why turn around in cycles every year? Take a pen and paper, sit down and review your financial activities for the past year; from your income earnings to spending. Break everything down into tiny bits and you will have a clearer picture of why some of your financial desires didn’t come to pass. It could be that your total expenditure outweighs your income.
Simple Guide: Create a ledger of credit and debit. Every of your income, no matter how little, should come to the credit side while expenditures come to the debit. Sum each side up. If your debit is over 30% of your credit, do you still wonder why that financial dream of yours was out of reach in the past year?
2. CREATE A CHECKLIST OF ALL YOUR FINANCIAL MATTERS: The second step is to create a checklist of all your financial matters, while including ‘Emergency’ as the last in the checklist. This is because emergency situations will always arise and can dent your plans, if you are not adequately prepared.
The best way to create this checklist is to break each financial matter down into months. Many people go through the year with false belief that they have everything sorted out in their heads. The more reason they fail because human beings are susceptible to memory loss. Sort them out in black and white instead, and a new level of motivation will come on you each time you look at the checklist. Alternatively, tools such as PocketGuard and Spendee can help you do this.
3. SET SPECIFIC FINANCIAL GOALS: After creating the checklist, the next step is to set your financial goals complete with specific dates. That is only when your wishes become goals since the dates act as deadlines thereby putting you on delightful pressure to beat them. Any goal without a specific date of achievement is not a goal. You are merely wishing. Sadly, this is what many people do.
By specific, I don’t mean you saying you will make a million naira in August 2018. Be more specific with date. Rather, say ‘August 30, 2018′ for instance. Then it becomes a goal that you can wake up every morning and chase around.
4. KEEP A FAITHFUL BUDGET: The failing of many people is that they are never faithful to their budget. This shows indiscipline. Learn to set and work within budget. That way, you can meet most of your financial plans and obligations. Going beyond budget will only put you in bad debt and make you miserable. If you cannot plan your budget in black and white, there are wonderful digital tools such as Wallet and Personal Capital that enables you to do this and carry your budget around in your phone. Some others like PocketGuard even alert you that you are already spending beyond budget. Take advantage of these tools for better living. One thing you must never do is to simply budget in your head.
5. SPEND WHAT IS LEFT AFTER YOU HAVE SAVED: Learn to live by this rule today. For every dime you earn, save at least 10% of it. Now, this is the difficult part: many people aren’t disciplined enough to do this. The key to achieving this is to separate your business income from your personal finance.
6. LEVERAGE ON GOOD DEBTS AND AVOID BAD DEBTS: Everybody should like debt. This is a principle of the wealthiest people in the world. They like good debt and abhor bad debt. Good debt brings you more cash flow and if well managed, sets you towards financial freedom. Bad debt on the other hand, brings you unneeded luxuries, put serious pressure on you and can make you miserable. If you must boost your personal finance in 2018, try to avoid bad debts.
Good debts are incurred towards fulfilling rewarding financial obligations like the purchase of businesses, investment and stocks or real estate; these are things that will compound your financial interests over time and make you independent. Bad debts are taken out to buy non-essential luxuries such as cars, holiday trips and best proposal dinner. These luxuries don’t compound wealth. Rather, they take what you already have. Decide which one you want.
7. PAY OFF YOUR SMALLER DEBTS FIRST: By now, you must be saying ‘but I am in debt already. My debtors are breathing down my neck’. All well and good. Make it a point of focus to liquidate your bad debts. Start by making a list of your bad debts in order of their sizes. Then settle the smaller debts first. Any debt that is fully settled should be cancelled out before moving to the next.
The logic behind this is simple. The smaller the debt, the easier it is to pay off. With each debt cancelled out, the more confident you will become of liquidating the bigger ones. This confidence brings with it desire not to keep going through the show of cancelling out debts every year. In other words, you’ll become a better manager of your finances.
8. LIVE YOUR MEANS: This must be a strange one. I have heard many people advocating that people should live below their means in order to have reasonable savings. Well, I actually believe people should live their means. If you can afford to conveniently buy out a business, why not? The key to living your means is convenience.
In measuring your convenience level at taking on situations, you must be truthful to self about your financial situation. You might be on a 100, 000.00 Naira per month wage and feel you can live in a two bedroom apartment in town. You should calculated the other supervening expenses like monthly feeding, clothing, welfare and transportation to know how much you are left with to contribute towards the means you want to live.
A simple rule I advocate is this: if a personal financial project is more than 10% of your actual income, then you might be better off living below your means.
9. AVOID HAVING ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY: As a major, nobody owes you anything in life. So quit that lazy mindset. In business as in your personal finance, you are solely responsible for the decisions you make; for your successes and failures. Once this is firmly ingrained in your mind, the zeal not to fail will become a greater motivation that pushes you towards making smart financial choices. You will learn the act of taking responsibility. The most successful entrepreneurs don’t sit down and wait for goodwill from some family members or friends. They struggle their ways through web of failure until the elusive success is captured. Then they work harder to keep the success. You should also have that mindset.
10. AVOID THE LOTTERY: This might not go down well with some lottery lovers but if you don’t have firm control of your personal finance, then stay off the lottery. People ask and I tell them lottery is business of luck based on correct punditry or guessing of a given situation. You expend money time and time again in the hope of becoming lucky and hitting the jackpot. But what if you don’t? Let us even assume you win. Have you taken stock of how much you have contributed to the lottery over the months and years and if what you won is up to your contribution? A few will be lucky to hit it big. However, a vast majority of people won’t. The wealthiest people know that waiting for some big manna from heaven is a lazy way of understanding the concept of luck. They know that luck is a deliberate effort of an individual therefore they diversify their portfolio before engaging in lottery.