End Of Quarter Financial Checklist

It's hard to believe that it has been three months since some of us were caught up in a frenzy of new year resolutions. And while your pledge to embrace veganism didn't quite last beyond the first week of 2023, what about your goal to get your finances sorted once and for all?

Have your financial goals been derailed?

It isn't a stretch to say that the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic in 2020 rampaged through personal finances, derailing so many goals along the way for many. Three years on, do you find that you're struggling to get back on track so that you can meet your short- and long-term financial goals?

If it seems you're only living to pay bills and repay debt, chances are your long-term financial goals — like home ownership, building an emergency fund, or even investing for retirement — are also being deferred.

Getting back on track

Any goal you set for yourself needs to start with a well-thought-out plan. New year's resolutions often fail because there are no concrete plans with steps as to how these resolutions will be achieved. Deciding to go vegan shouldn't be done on a whim. Is this just some fad or is it a lifestyle that is best suited for how you live? In the same way, getting your financial affairs in order should also not be an ad hoc decision. Let's say you want to dig yourself out of debt in order to start saving towards buying a house. Ask yourself how, exactly, will you accomplish this. What are the specific steps that you will take? What is the time frame within which you want to achieve this goal? Careful planning is key. As the adage goes: If you fail to plan, plan to fail. The good news is, however, you can use this end of quarter to do a reset.

Make or review your financial mission statement

Don't simply have a vague notion of what you want. There are so many things you might want to do, money-wise. Listing your priorities will help you focus and then formulate a mission statement that reflects your priority goals. This financial mission statement should briefly outline your goals, values, and as a constant reminder of the things that are important to you financially.

A personal financial mission statement could look something like this:

"My goal is to build wealth (purpose) by eliminating frivolous spending and instead focusing on accumulating the deposit to acquire my first property in five years by regularly contributing 15% of my income to my investment account, as well as taking on additional part-time employment and retaining only one credit card (plan) in order to stop renting and in doing so doing break generational curses and create a solid foundation for myself and my future children (values)."

Be sure to write it down and include it in your conversation with your financial advisor.

Make mindful

Once you've articulated what you want in the medium to long term it will free you up to make shorter-term financial decisions. So, although your aim, for example, is to purchase property in five years, what shorter-term financial decisions will you make in the intervening years to ensure your plan stays on track? To do this you must contemplate how you will increase your income, while decreasing or better managing your expenses.

One way to increase your income is to ensure you maximise the returns from your current income streams. In your next discussion with your financial advisor, you should be discussing the range of investment products available to you, the timeline to realise returns on investments, and their respective rates of returns. Secondly, you could also begin to explore how to package your skills and expertise for interested parties who might be willing to pay for them. For example, are you a good writer or content creator? Could you be packaging this skill for a part-time income opportunity?

In addition, you want to get your short-term expenditures under control. If you have credit card or other debt, look at things like getting a debt consolidation loan, which should allow you to pay back smaller amounts at an agreed rate over a predetermined period. Furthermore, you may want to unfollow your favourite influencer whose "unboxing" videos often find you rushing to a clothing retail chain and handing over your credit card for another purchase you really don't need. Sure, you'll have a closet full of beautiful clothes, but if this only helps to foster long-term debt, how will your long-term financial goals be met?

Remember, on your way to meeting your financial goals, it is important to make mindful choices with the money at your disposal.

NADINE THOMAS, assistant vice-president – Private Wealth, NCB Capital Markets Limited

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