23 steps to a new financial you

The summer holidays are coming to an end and the reality of a new year is starting to set in. For many that reality means ongoing financial stress causing emotional and relationship pressure.

The answer isn’t a batch of trite new year financial resolutions, it’s a change in behaviours. Money doesn’t buy happiness but it can certainly help. And the key is building healthy financial habits.

So have a look through some of our top 23 financial thought starters to help begin the process to a new financial you.

  1. Create a financial plan and spend some time each week developing and reviewing that plan to make it happen. With every financial transaction, top of mind should be “how does this fit in with my financial goals?”
  2. Take 5 minutes to review your main accounts on-line each day. Make certain that all charges are accurate and review any purchases you may regret later.
  3. Every week, review all transactions to help maintain financial goals
  4. Review accounts monthly to make sure all bills are paid on time. If the funds aren’t there then call the institution to alert them of an expected payment date or work out a payment plan
  5. When creating an annual financial plan, create quarterly milestones that benchmark progress. For example, if the plan is to pay off $10,000 from the mortgage in 12 months then by month 3, you should have $2,500 paid off. If that doesn’t happen then readjust the plan, move the goal or play catch up.
  6. Set your finances on autopilot. Set up every recurring expense using BPay or via direct debit.
  7. Create a goal statement: My intention is to ________________ in order to achieve financial freedom.
  8. Save 10 per cent of income every payday. Make it an automated transfer into a separate investment account.
  9. Pay down non-mortgage debt to less than 15 per cent of income
  10. Read, listen or watch the financial media to keep abreast of emerging financial issues that impact your life.
  11. Be mindful of emotional impulse spending. Shopping when you’re sad, mad or depressed often leads to purchases you’ll regret later.
  12. Spend more time with those who are where you want to be financially. It helps you compare how you operate while helping you make changes along the way.
  13. Everyday, day dream about what it will be like when you reach your financial goals. Whether you are aiming to be debt free, have 6 – 12 months of emergency fund savings, or buy your first property, day about it, talk about it, write about it and make it happen.
  14. Give back. This can be with your time or money. Spend time giving back to others less fortunate than yourself to maintain a balanced life with a good sense of priorities.
  15. De-clutter your finances. What are some things that you’re paying for (magazine subscriptions, extra trips to the makeup counter, techie gadget impulse buys) that leech money you really need to hit your financial goals.
  16. Don’t stress about the past. Leave financial regrets behind as they took place in order to teach you lessons for the future. The coming year won’t be perfect, but commit to learning from mistakes to avoid making them again.
  17. Don’t compare your financial situation to others who are in a better position. Like you they had to work to get where they are and if you take anything from their situation, it should be you can one day be financially free yourself.
  18. Make some hard decisions about your spending habits. The more insight you have into this area, the better decisions you’ll make.
  19. Find ways to earn more money. Developing multiple streams of income is key to financial freedom. Things like a part time job or a home based business.
  20. Sell anything you haven’t touched in 6-8 months and use the proceeds to pay down debt or plug into savings.
  21. Discuss your financial plans for the coming year with your partner or spouse. Make sure you are both on board with goals and how you will address setbacks. (see breakout tips).
  22. Give children gifts that will last long past the next birthday. Create, or add money, to an education fund.