Because we’re facing a new year, we are more eager to have a fresh start and improve ourselves. This is why many of us make a list of New Year’s resolutions, one of the most common of which is to start fixing and improving our personal finances. But are we doing it the right way?
Here are some smart ways to improve one’s personal finances in the year ahead.
Keep a financial diary. It’s hard to make a workable financial plan when you are not aware of your spending habits. Thus, to track and evaluate your spending habits, you must keep a yearly financial diary, recording everything you spend. As an added benefit, it helps us weigh how much we spend on each category of expenses, making us aware of any overspending on shopping, for example, or travel, etc.
Maintain an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund is very important. It can save us from unforeseen expenses. Life has a way of throwing curve balls at us and those are the times when an emergency fund proves to be a smart way of managing our contingency expenses. Imagine having no such fund when an unexpected life event occurs. Most likely, you’d look for someone who would lend you money, or borrow a loan from elsewhere. This is more costly because of the automatic interest. Thus, an emergency fund will save you from debt and interest. Moreover, it gives you a sense of financial security. It’s like your personal insurance fund for yourself. So if you don’t have one yet, the best time to start is now.
Create an investment plan. Investment is one of the most important aspects of your personal finance status. By having an investment plan, you’ll have a better chance at multiplying your money than putting it in a bank, which offers very low annual interest. You should have a strategy in mind when creating your investment plan. First, set realistic goals. Then select a strategic investment tool for your money and decide where you want to invest. Weigh each opportunity and choose the best investment you are most comfortable with by knowing the pros and cons. Evaluate your risk appetite, as well as the risks entailed by your prospective investment. If you are risk-averse, you might want to put your money in safer investments such as mutual funds or bonds.
If you spend time planning projects or deliverables at work, you may consider applying the same principle in managing your finances. There are some people who are not aware of the importance of setting aside time for personal financial management as part of their lives. Such lack of preparation for managing the future and unexpected life events could lead one to go broke, especially if the person has put all hopes on the 15th-30th paydays of the month. For an improved financial position in 2017, start spending time now on planning for life’s emergencies and preparing for the curveballs.
Luis Tan Jr. is the marketing manager of MoneyMax.ph, a financial comparison website aiming to help Filipinos save money through diligent comparisons of financial products.