While most people’s new years goals are focused around getting fit, learning a new language or unleashing their inner green thumb, there’s one more thing we encourage people to think about this time of year, and that’s doing a financial health check.
We know it doesn’t sound like much fun, but we promise this won’t be the usual “top up your savings and get your life insurance in order” kind of financial health check… This is a basic one that will help you find the gaps in your current financial situation or plan, and help you make changes to make your money work towards what you want in life.
For us, there are four pillars of financial wellbeing and they are:
- Knowing your goals and values
- Having a financial plan that revolves around your goals and values
- Knowing your key financial concerns
- Having a balanced cash flow and making meaningful purchases
So how does this all translate into a financial health check? These are our steps below:
1. Revisit your personal goals and values and know what’s important to you.
Any time we meet with a new client, this is the first thing we want to know. Your goals can be immediate or long term, and your values are your ethics, principals and beliefs and the way you’d like to live your life.
If you haven’t set any goals yet, that’s fine! It’s never too late to do this. When you define your goals and values, you discover what's truly important to you. Get out your pen and paper and start writing them down.
If you’re struggling to figure out your goals, whether that be financial or just life goals in general, a great place to start is to write down a list of all the things you need in life to make you feel happy, secure and fulfilled and, most importantly, write a little bit about why these things are important. This could be anything from paying off debt to writing a cookbook!
Once you have this list, you have your goals and some great motivation to help you reach them.
2. Financial Plan
Whether you’re in pension or wealth accumulation phase, it’s important to have a financial plan working hard for you in the background so that your nest egg can grow while you’re busy focusing on the important stuff. And this financial plan MUST be centred around your life goals and what you want to use your money for now, and when you retire.
Some points your financial plan should touch on: Is your current cash flow enough to support your current goals and hobbies, or do you need to make some adjustments to accommodate? Does your superannuation balance need to grow so that you have enough money to live off when you have finished working? Will your investments generate enough income for you to live off when you retire?
If things aren’t hitting the mark, readjust your plan, and start fresh. It’s so important to try and stick to your plan, but sometimes the stars just don’t align. Remember to focus on your daily actions and give yourself credit for hitting the small goals that will ultimately lead you to long-term financial success. As long as you keep the bigger picture in mind, stay flexible and review your situation regularly, you should get to where you need to be.
3. Know your key concerns
It’s not the most exciting part of our financial health check, but knowing your key concerns and your money worries is crucial to getting on top of them. They will be much easier to tackle when they’re written down and not pushed to the back of your mind. Whether it’s not having the healthy lifestyle you want or always running out of money at the end of the week, it’s so important to tackle these things head on.
We know sometimes it’s easier said than done, so it’s important to try and keep chipping away at your key concerns until they’re not so much of a concern anymore. To make it easier for yourself, be realistic and focus only on the things you can change, not things that are out of yourcontrol.
4. Having a balanced cash flow and making meaningful purchases
If you’ve made a list of your goals, use it to remind you what’s important. So, when you’re out shopping, or see something on the internet that you really want, ask yourself one question - "If I buy this will it help me achieve what I really want?" Asking this question will help you make more meaningful buying decisions, provide focus and bring more purpose to your spending.
Understanding your emotional connection to money is something that can make a huge difference to your budget or cash flow plan. If you can map out your priorities and become aware of your spending habits, it will be easier to recognise your impulses and start making money decisions in favour of your goals.
It’s all about being honest in your cash flow planning and making sure your relationship with money is a positive one.
Be sure to include a little "guilt-free allowance" in your budget each week as well. This could be $20, $50 or $100 that you can set aside and put towards going out for dinner with friends, saving up for that new jacket you've had your eye on or just going out for a day. A good cashflow plan is one that allows you to still do the things that make you happy!
The most important thing is to go easy on yourself and keep at it. Some things take time, and once you have a financial plan that covers everything we’ve spoken about above, you have taken a huge step towards your financial wellbeing. The trick is to regularly review where you’re at with it all and to keep reviewing your goals to make sure your financial plan is still relevant to you.
Good luck, and please feel free to contact us if you need a hand with anything.