Staying on track

With Lisa-Minto- Powell

Sunday, January 21, 2018

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This is the time when your friends may ask you if you have made any New Year's resolutions, presuming that you completed your review of last year.

Oftentimes you would have made a list and possibly compared your resolutions with that of your friends or colleagues.

The new year typically brings a lot of optimism and in fact enthusiasm for executing the items on the list in the month of January after a wonderful Christmas. Yes, I know that each year we write a long list to guide our readers on the path to realistic and meaningful advice for the new year. Heading the list is always health and wealth, with many people renewing gym memberships, looking forward to their yearly check-ups and making appointments to meet their financial advisors/managers.

However, resolutions almost always never change and many people quit long before the first quarter of the year has ended. Nevertheless, let's look at some simple and practical actions we can take for this year.

Health generally heads the list, with the usual declarations of: “I am going to lose 20 pounds by carnival in March, quit smoking, quit drinking and start the gym.”

However, don't go spending money on memberships you will not use, or investing in exercise gear and equipment thinking that by paying for this you will indeed be utilising them.

Yes, you may enjoy watching them each day sitting right in front of you, but are you really motivated to use them after feeling good purchasing them? Let's be more realistic, do your yearly check-ups and based on the results and advice from your physician, make realistic goals that are achievable.

Investing for wealth follows the same process. We all know what needs to be done, so let's look at the simple steps we can take to make a difference in our bank accounts, etc, for this new financial year and any future aspirations.

Before we start setting these goals always keep them simple, ensure they are measurable, specific and most of all smart. Set a time frame, preferably medium to long term. Unfortunately, many short-term goals, once set, temporarily go awry and tempt us to get discouraged and lose sight of our goals.

Determine how much you can save each month, write everything down or input it in an excel sheet that can help you determine your expenses versus savings. Look realistically at how you can cut costs.

Stop looking at the discount on items being purchased as savings – if you don't need it, don't buy it!

Develop an attitude to save for the short term, while still investing for the long term. Nothing is wrong with having some emergency short-term funds, just stop watching it as you may end up spending it on some random item you don't need because you are not having a good day. Buyer's remorse is the worst feeling.

Decide how much you will need financially for each goal. After all, it takes money to get things moving. Work out the cost, the time, and decide if it's worth it financially. This is where you separate your short-term goals from your long-term goals. Always remember that nothing happens overnight.

You may wish to place your short-term funds on a one-year instrument, while your long-term funds may be placed on bonds or stocks.

Last, but not least, automate your deductions. Experts say this is the best way to save. Remember, a comprehensive review with your advisor on the financial performance of your portfolio last year, can help to set the stage for better performance in the new year.

Happy investing!

Lisa Minto-Powell is the manager, financial planning at Sterling Asset Management. Sterling provides financial advice and instruments in US dollars and other hard currencies to the corporate, individual and institutional investor. Visit our website at Feedback: If you wish to have Sterling address your investment questions in upcoming articles, e-mail us at: .




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