September 23rd is an important day as it marks the 100 day countdown to the end of 2009. Another year and a decade coming to an end and the Question arises, have you fulfilled your New Year Resolutions you set out for 2009?
On the first day of the brand new year, most would have written down some New Year wish list or made some really good resolutions. Did you fulfill them or are they still lying hidden somewhere never to seen again?
With the economic repercussions of the past years still gripping many, I believe the one significant resolution that will echo through the hearts of many, will be ‘I will save more money’. Indeed, saving up for rainy days has become the utmost concern in these lean times.
Here are some ways to trim those ‘fat’ spending and learn new tips to increase the digits in your bank account and also take on the challenge to dust off the unfulfilled new year resolutions and fulfill them before the Year closes.
1. Set a Goal and Stick by it!
It is simple but not easy. You know what I am talking about! How many times have you tried to resist the urge to buy that sale item but failed. Your goal must be S.M.A.R.T.
Specific - You must put an amount to it. If you want to save $30,000 for your
wedding in three years time, it means that you have to save $10,000 a year or $833 per month.
Measurable - You can monitor your progress by a quantitative benchmark. If you saved only $600 for the 1st month, it would mean that you are short of $233 from your monthly goal.
Action - Is it within your capability to put it to action?
Realistic - If you earn $2,000 per month, can you be comfortable about saving almost 50% of your income?
Time frame - Put a deadline to it. So your goal statement should read like this - I, John Lee, will have $30,000 in my bank account on 31.12.2012 for my wedding.
The difference between a dream and a goal is: A goal is a dream with a deadline!
Start visualizing that you already have possession of that amount and imagine the happy outcomes of achieving that goal. Make it a point to read your goal statement daily and this positive repetition will keep you focused!
Try it! I have my goal fulfilled simply by using this method. Ultimately, this goal must be of importance to you and you must possess the true desire to want to achieve it. With a specific goal in mind, you are less inclined to impulse buying.
2. No discipline? Get the professionals to help you!
If you do not have the will power to save or stick to your goal, it would make sense for someone to ‘force’ you to save and remind you of your target. In the recent years, our government has introduced directives to upgrade the professionalism of the financial services sector. That means that the focus now is not to push the product down the throat of the client. It is to understand client’s concerns and ‘tailor’ the products to suit the client’s need.
From a humble Save as You Earn (or similar) account, to sophisticated unit trust investment offered by the banks and insurance companies, there are enough financial schemes out there to suit every individual’s need and risk profile.
It pays to invest a few hours of your time to talk to someone who has the expertise in this area. The person needs to be someone you are comfortable relating to and he/she should be able to explain how the program is going to help you achieve your goal. Like your routine medical check-ups to your dentist and doctor, you should meet your financial advisor at least once a year to check your financial health too!
3. Try these ideas to save your money!
a. Pay yourself first!
On your payday, write yourself a cheque of 10% to 20% of your gross salary. Pay yourself before you pay others. Create a separate bank account and do this religiously month in and month out and watch your wealth mulitiply! You also have the option to either invest it monthly or leave it as cash savings depending on your risk appetite.
b. Never spend more than you earn!
Why buy that expensive Italian sofa and you find yourself paying high monthly installments to your credit card company? There are always cost effective alternatives if you are willing to hunt for it.
c. Set up a $1-coin piggy bank.
Put 1 to 2 coins into your piggy bank daily and you will be amazed at how much you have saved by the end of the year!
d. Pay your bills on time
Why waste another $5 to $20 on interest for late payment when you can save them? Beware, sometimes you could end up paying as much as twice of what you owe! Finance companies charge as high as 24% of your outstanding credit. If you owe them $1000, you still have to pay another $240 for not paying them within a year or more!
e. Dine at home
A meal at a restaurant can cost more than a week worth of groceries! Think of the amount of money you save every time you eat at home, and save on service charges, government taxes and even GST! What more can you ask for with cheaper, healthier food and the quality time spent with family?
f. Change your leisure habits
Watch movies on Monday to Wednesday and you save at least 20% on your tickets! Sing karaoke in your bathroom- 100% savings or invest in a DVD player & a microphone.
g. Spread your risks
Take up a health insurance scheme to cover hospital bills and an accidental protection plan that pays you a weekly income when you are on M.C to nurse your broken arm or leg. This will ensure that you do not need to spend your hard earned money on such unforeseen circumstances. (Critical illness like cancer could wipe out all your assets if not insured)
h. Invest your money
Make your money hard work for you. Why let your savings lie idle in the bank for less than 1% return? Look for investments that can help you beat the inflation (about 3% p.a). Insurance saving programs offer about 4% to 6% returns per annum while some unit trust investments yield 7% to 10% returns. However, do your homework before you take the plunge! (As a general guideline, you need to set aside about 3 to 6 months of your income for emergency needs and should look into investing the rest)
i. Do all of the above NOW!
Take the 100 day challenge to fulfill your Goals this Year in 2009!
Finally, it is never easy to kick those bad habits. Why not start on some good ones and you will be pleasantly surprised when 2010 begins.
Wishing one and all Good health and Great wealth!
Category: Financial Planning | 8 Comments