By Chinazom Chidolue
Whatever life you want to lead will cost you! The only way to lead the life you want is to save more or increase your earnings. This 7 step checklist will show you a few simple steps you can take to accomplish your money goals for 2017!
Be On Top Of Your Money
Where Does Your Money Go?
In order to live the life you want and take control of your finances you must first figure out where all your money goes! The easiest way to do this is to get an app like Mint which shows you a weekly summary outlining all that you’ve spent money on. An old-fashioned but effective way to do this is to scan your bank statements each month or week this would show you all the places/ things you have spent your money on.
Doing this quick exercise will show you the areas where you spend the most money, which can be quite telling! If you realize that you spend way too much money on take-out or taxis (things that you can definitely live without with some planning), this might be a sign that you have to adjust your habits!
What Can I Cut Back On?
After figuring out where all your money goes, try to find areas that you can cut back on while still maintaining your desired quality of life (or not, whatever works for you!) If you find that you spend way too much on take out you can decide to start packing your lunch once or twice a week to start. If you notice that you spend way too much on grooming, say weekly nail appointments, you could consider buying quality tools for your nails which will allow you to do your own manicures and save the nail store visits for special occasions (whatever special means to you!)
Build A Budget That Works For You
Now you’ve identified where all your money goes and also noted areas that you can cut back on. The next step for you is to build a budget that aligns with your financial goals. If you plan on saving more in 2017 you can increase your savings/investment amount in the budget. If you plan on taking a trip to Thailand in the New Year you can start saving for this (this is called planned spending). By writing down all the things you are saving for and building a budget that allows you to save for all these things, you will give yourself some freedom to ensure that you do the things that make you happy!
Related: Build A Budget That Works For You!
Set SMART Goals To Help You Save More
For your goals to be effective, they must be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely). “I want to save more in 2017” is not a goal! You must point out how much you want to save and also figure out the time span. A S.M.A.R.T goal is: “I want to save $500 (that is, 30% of my paycheck) every month in 2017, to have a total of $5,000 in savings at the end of the year.” Now go back to your journals and make sure that all the goals you have set are SMART.
5. In Your 9 To 5
You can earn more in your 9 to 5 job by: successfully negotiating your salary or working more (overtime) hours. If you don’t work in a company where you can do either, you can decide to get a new job if you truly feel underpaid. (This is a big decision so think about it!)
Have A Side-Hustle
If you cannot earn more in your 9 to 5 job; you should look into using side hustles to earn more. Figure out things that you are naturally good at and can do during your free time and try to do research about ways to make money from them. Because we are in a sharing economy this is a bit easier as you can easily start driving on Uber or put up a room at your place on Airbnb, but if these options are not for you, you can always use your skills to earn more! This is easier said than done and you might have to change your lifestyle to be able to have a side-hustle, but it is usually worth it in the end.
7. Set Yourself Up For Success
Most people do not accomplish their savings goals, not because they are lazy or indisciplined but because they do not have the systems in place to help them accomplish their goals. In order to set yourself up for success make sure you:
i) Automate when you can: From automatic money transfers from your paycheque to your savings account, to automatic portfolio rebalancing, if there is anyway that you can automate any aspect of your earnings or savings goals, try your best to! This will save you the stress down the line and will ensure that you get this done even when you’re busy.
ii) Remember your goals: Remembering your goals and the reason why you’re saving or earning more in the first place will keep you in check if you get unmotivated/ discouraged (because, let’s face it – It’s hard work!) Making a vision board could also help with this.
iii) Plan for the worst: Sh*t happens – so be sure to hope for the best and plan for the worst. You have to make sure you’re ready for the unexpected, as emergencies can totally derail your savings plans. The best ways to do this: get insurance (life, car, renters’ insurance etc) and have an emergency fund!
Wishing you a financially successful 2017!