Happy New Year! I wish you are having a safe and joyful holiday! Since we are at the start of the year, it is a good time to plan ahead your financial goals for 2014. Below are some tips you may want to focus your planning on.
Keep Track of Your Cash Flow and Networth:
To be able to analysis your financial situation, you’ll definitely need to put some effort in keeping track of your cash flow and networth. For the cash flow, keep a detailed record of your monthly income, and all your expenses (i.e.: Mortgage, rental, car payment, insurance, property tax, utilities, travel, entertainment, meals, groceries, etc.). As for your networth, keep track of all your assets such as property, investments, value within life insurance policies, bank accounts, etc. You should also record your liabilities such as mortgage, line of credits, investment loans, credit cards, and others.
Set a goal to review the above data on a regularly basis. This could be done monthly, quarterly or even semi-annually. The key point is to be consistent. From the above data, you’ll be able to see where it’s your money is flowing to, and whether your networth is increasing over time. To make your life easier, if you’re using smartphones, there are many apps that are designed to keep track of this. Else, you may also save your records by using Excel in your computer.
Key idea: “There’s really nothing fancy about this, the point is to be consistent. Keep track of all your financial details and review regularly. With the advanced technology we have today, use tools that could assist your record keeping in an easier way. ”
Savings and Investment Goals:
When setting your savings and investments goals, I would advice to divide them into short-term and long-term. Short term such as savings for emergency, down payments for a property, traveling trip, etc. While long-term goals may include savings for retirement, child education, and others.
I usually classified anything within the 5 years time frame as short-term, while anything beyond as long-term. Some may have different definition when it comes to what is the duration of short-term and long-term. However, this is not the key, it is how you allocate your savings and investments according to your goals and risk tolerance. I usually suggest to my clients that the shorter the investment duration, the more conservative they should be. Furthermore, there are different strategies that may enhance your savings such as through the use of RRSP, RESP, TFSA, RDSP. Some of the above would provide government grants and bonds, while some could lead to taxation benefits. Make sure you understand the different rules and plan accordingly.
Key idea: “Save before you spend. If you save only when there’s money left after your spending, usually, there isn’t much. Find out how much you need to save for each individual goal this year, and setup an automatic contribution plan so you would not be off track.”
Plan for the ‘What if’ scenario:
Even your current financial situation could be very healthy, there are many unexpected scenarios that could damage your financial well-beings. Check below whether your family is prepared to face the following:
- What if I’m sick, is my family prepared to pay for unexpected medical expenses?
- What if I lose my ability to work due to sickness or injury, is my family prepared to maintain the same living standard without my income?
- What if I’m critically ill, is my family prepared to take time off work or hire someone to take care of me?
- What if I were passed away today, is my family prepared to pay for all the ongoing expenses without me?
If you have abundant savings for your family to face the above scenarios, that would be great. If not, there are different insurance strategies which would help to protect your family from these unexpected risks.
Key idea: “Don’t gamble your family’s future with the what-if scenarios. If you really are not prepared to face all these what-if scenarios, find ways to protect it”
Meaningful Ways to Spend Your Money
Last but not least, money is only useful if you spend them in a meaningful way. How would having more money makes you a become better person? Perhaps, consider setting some goals to spend in ways that would create a long-lasting value. For instance, plan for a memorable trip and spend some quality time with your family, learn and explore new things that could enhance your vision, sponsor a child or donate to a charity that you would like to support.
Key idea: “Always ask yourself: How would having more money bring values to the people around me?”
Once again, I wish you have a prosperous 2014! Good health and good wealth.
[note] For even more financial ideas, feel free to subscribe to my e-newsletter. (The signup form is on the upper right hand side). If you wish to discuss further about your financial planning, I also welcome you to contact me. [/note]
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