Don’t wait for January to start thinking about how to improve your financial fitness in 2020. We’ve compiled a list of our top 20 financial resolutions for you to consider and adopt to make next year a truly prosperous one.
- Commit to a monthly money meeting with your spouse or partner: Most money arguments are really just a result of a breakdown in communication between couples. In our permanently connected lives, we often forget to set aside time to have important money conversations with our significant other. Delaying these conversations can lead to harboured-up resentment, anger or even revenge-spending. Talk to your partner and commit to putting 30 minutes aside once a month to go through your finances. Make sure you still want the same things and that you are both working towards the same goals.
- Find ways to save money without depriving yourself: Saving money doesn’t have to mean living frugally and being miserable. Find creative ways to save money so that you can spend more time doing the things you enjoy. Simple steps such as buying in bulk, taking advantage of discounts, preparing homemade meals and outsourcing fewer services can help save money which can be re-directed to buy experiences.
- Stop buying lottery tickets: Stop gambling with your money and start telling it where you want it to go and what you want it to achieve. Very few people get rich by chance. Building wealth is a slow, intentional process. The lotto odds are stacked against you, so re-direct your hard-earned money and resist betting on your financial future.
- Take steps to protect yourself against identity theft: We’re all guilty of using our same-old passwords configured around birth dates, pet names and lucky numbers. Whether it’s a bank account, online shopping portal or Gmail account, commit to refreshing your passwords and login credentials to fortify yourself against online fraud. Check out LastPass, Dash Lane, Keeper Security, 1Password or Bitwarden, all of which are excellent apps for password management.
- Put your money where your mouth is: Most of us have good charitable intentions but fail to follow through on them. Small acts of kindness such as providing homemade sandwiches for the homeless or dropping off rape care packages at your local police station don’t cost much money but can make an enormous difference in someone’s life.
- Plug the leaks in your budget: Like Tupperware lids and socks, our money has a habit of miraculously disappearing. Where is the leak in your bucket? Perform a once-off exercise of scrutinising your bank statement to find out where your money is going. If you’re using cash, keep your slips and go through them one by one. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
- Have that difficult money conversation: If you need to have that difficult money conversation with your aged parent, over-demanding teenager, friend who owes you money, employer who promised you a bonus, or sibling that isn’t pulling their weight, commit to doing it first thing in the new year. If face-to-face is a bit daunting, type an email that explains how you feel and suggest solutions to address the problem.
- Schedule next year’s review with your financial planner: Stay one step ahead of your financial planner and book your annual review for 2020. Besides for being proactive, this will give you time to store up questions and make notes of items you want to discuss with her.
- Set yourself a savings challenge: If there’s a big-ticket item that you’re hoping to buy in 2020, commit yourself to saving up and paying cash for it. Besides for avoiding debt, it will hopefully be the start of a great new spending habit.
- Kick expensive habits: Smoking, excessive drinking, fast food, bottled water, gambling, takeaway coffee, chocolates or a weakness for shoes – if there’s a habit that’s eating away at your disposable income, be honest with yourself. Identify the problem and commit to dealing with it head-on.
- Read a personal financial planning book: Commit to reading just one book about personal financial planning in 2020. Consider starting with ‘Manage Your Money Like a F*&king Grown-Up – The Best Money Advice You Never Got’ by Sam Beckbessinger.
- Pay your bills as soon as they arrive: Begin the habit of paying your bills as they arrive. Delaying payment costs you money, causes you stress, increases your chances of forgetting to pay, and does nothing but kick the proverbial can further down the road.
- Find ways to reduce electricity consumption: Not only will you save money, but you will also reduce your carbon footprint. Consider installing a timer on your geyser, switch to infrared heaters and LED lighting, use gas, braai more often, defrost meat overnight, use a pressure cooker or Instapot, and use an iron with a thermostat.
- Plan for Christmas in January: If the pending festive season is already stressing you out, then commit to doing it differently next year. Put aside money every month starting in January earmarked for Christmas 2020. Start buying your Christmas presents in July or, even better, make them yourself as a DIY project.
- Ask for upfront discounts: Ask schools, creches, gyms and other service providers if they offer upfront discounts if you pay in advance for the year.
- Don’t incur any more debt: Prioritise paying off your consumer debt in 2020 but, most importantly, commit to not incurring any more during the course of the year.
- Get off social media: Apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger swallow an enormous part of our time. According to GlobalWebIndex, the average internet user in 2019 spends around 2 hours and 22 minutes per day socialising across these six platforms. While there’s nothing wrong with socialising online, make sure it’s not stealing valuable time that you could be using for personal development and growth.
- Change the way you talk and think about money: Stop using phrases such as ‘I’m broke’, ‘I’ll never have enough money’, ‘I don’t earn enough to save’, ‘I can’t afford it’ and ‘I’ll always be poor’. Words have power, so start using phrases like ‘How can I afford it?’, ‘I am committed to saving’, ‘I am taking control of my money’, and ‘I want to be financially free’.
- Cut back on consumption: Most marketing messages we receive encourage us to spend, buy, shop, spoil, splurge and indulge. To cut back on consumption start using words like rethink, refuse, reduce, re-use, refurbish, repair, repurpose and recycle.
- Create a 5-year plan: If long-term financial planning is overwhelming, consider jotting down a 5-year plan instead. What do you hope to achieve financially in the next 5 years? Finding a better job, setting up your own business, saving for an overseas holiday, eliminating all debt, paying a deposit on a home or doing home renovations – whatever your goals are, list them and get into gear.
Have a fabulous Friday!