Have you ever accomplished anything big with your money or are you waiting until you have enough? The hard truth is that there is rarely enough to accomplish a big goal right from the start; it takes time, consistency, discipline and focus. Don’t have too many goals or you may never achieve them.
So, what is that big goal that you’ve been putting off? Are you saving for a down payment for your first home? Building an emergency fund, an education fund, a retirement fund? Do you plan to start your own business? Whatever your goals are, short, medium or long term, make sure that they are “SMART”; you need to be specific about the amount you need and with clear time lines.
If your goal is short-term, for just 12 months, to save a certain sum by the end of 2020, simply divide that sum by 12 and get started. Set up a dedicated account that you hardly use for this purpose, so that you aren’t tempted to dip into it. Automating your savings will make the task much easier to achieve.
The barrier to entry is low, so you don’t need a large lump sum to get started. Even if you only have a tiny sum to spare right now, deposit it into that account. A deliberate action will be a boost to help you build the confidence that you can do it. If you spend N30,000 a month on takeaway meals, you definitely have got money to invest. It all comes down to your priorities and choices.
For the bigger goals such as educating children or your retirement, there are numerous financial planning calculators online to help you estimate your monthly savings target to achieve long-term goals. Investing is a non-negotiable part of the long-term wealth creation equation; don’t neglect it.
Reduce your Debt
It will be very difficult to achieve financial goals if you are drowning in high-interest debt. Bad debt such as out-of-control credit card debts and personal loans with exorbitant interest charges are the opposite of good investments. They decrease your net-worth at a compounding rate, rather than grow it. Make paying off or at least significantly reducing your expensive debt a priority.
What’s your credit score? Are you one of those people that swear never to borrow? Are you one of those that borrow and don’t pay back? It’s time to build some credit. The credit system is a reliable source of information for future lenders and creditors about potential borrowers. Armed with this information, lenders can make informed decisions about whether or not to lend to lend money to you.
We should all make it a point of building our credit so that when we do wish to borrow, we will have access to credit. Your borrowing behaviour matters and your credit score will matter more and more in future so put that in place early and begin to monitor it. Take your credit seriously; visit a credit agency or check online for how to go about this.
Uncover your Talent
Is your talent buried? What is that thing that everyone says you are so good at and that you do effortlessly? This is your year to uncover your gift; that extraordinary God-given talent, and put it to work. Perhaps you’ve written some outstanding short stories; is it time to publish? You take the best photographs at family events or you are highly sought-after to sing at functions. You make the most beautiful clothes. Maybe you are a tech genius and are keeping it to yourself?
Is your side-hustle just to bring in some extra money or is it something that can grow to eventually even replace your full-time job? We all need multiple streams of income. This may be the time to monetise that talent to help you achieve your goals.
Wills don’t Kill
No one wants to think about death at the start of a new year. In our society, preparing a will is sometimes seen as a death sentence. See it, rather, as a courtesy to your family; you owe it to them to put something in place should something untoward happen to you. We love our families; indeed much of what we do, the struggle and the stress, is for them. So, surely, we should want to protect what we have to ensure that our loved ones are taken care of.
A will is the easiest form of estate planning and doesn’t take long to do. Make an appointment with an estate-planning attorney who will put you through the relatively simple process. You probably won’t need it for a long time to come, but having one in place provides some peace of mind for you and your family. If you already have a will, review and update it to make sure you have included any new assets or beneficiaries.
Estate planning isn’t just about death though; there are other ways to tidy up your affairs and to acquire new assets in a more structured way, such as a trust. A new year is a good time to sit down with a professional to plan for your assets. Estate planning need not be expensive; yet the peace of mind and protection it can provide for your family is priceless.
Invest in Yourself
You are your greatest asset, so do all you can to invest in and protect yourself. What do you visualise for yourself? Are you expecting to move up in your current job, change careers, start a side-hustle, go back to school, start your own business? It is hard to achieve success without the drive and the physical and emotional strength to make things happen.
Choose to be healthy. Health is wealth; it’s not just a cliché. Choosing a healthy lifestyle means that you must be deliberate about the choices you make for both your physical health and your mental health that we often ignore.
Find a physical activity that you enjoy that gives you enough exercise and build it into your routine. Watch what you eat and choose a diet that makes you feel your best self. Don’t neglect your health insurance; it gives you access to decent medical care.
People matter; surround yourself with people that encourage and build you up and do the same for them. Practice a hobby that helps you relieve stress and makes you feel happy and fulfilled. No one owes you happiness or fulfilment; it’s a choice that comes from you and your faith in God.
To make 2020 truly count, be deliberate in making an impact both in your personal and professional life. The fulfilment that comes from touching lives, changing lives, and even saving lives is more fulfilling than all the money in the world.
Happy New Year.