As we embark on a new year, our Wealth With Sophia column considers New Year’s resolutions and how you can include achievable financial goals when making yours
As the New Year gets underway, many of us set resolutions to improve our health, career and personal life. But when it comes to finances, setting goals can be tricky. It's easy to make big, unrealistic plans that we ultimately fail to achieve, leaving us feeling guilty and defeated. Instead, let's approach financial resolutions in a more realistic and healthy way.
It's important to be fair to ourselves and our spending habits when setting financial goals. By having a healthy money mindset, we can achieve higher goals while also allowing ourselves to enjoy the little things that make us happy.
So, how can we set financial resolutions that we can actually achieve? First, think clearly about the goals you want to reach. If you know what you want, you're more likely to be motivated to pursue and achieve it. Take a moment to write down what you want to accomplish in the next year. Keep these items attainable and consider your current earnings and spending habits.
When setting goals, it's helpful to visualise the kind of life you want for yourself. What kind of house do you want? Where do you want to go on vacation? How do you want to spend your free time? These are important questions to ask yourself, as they will help you to define what is important to you and what you want to achieve.
Goals should be set systematically, and it's best to break them down based on their occurrence. There are two main types of goals you can achieve: short-term goals, which are things you'd like to achieve within a year or less, and long-term goals, which are things you'd like to achieve that will take longer than one year. Setting both types of goals will help you to stay on track, and to measure your progress in achieving your financial goals.
When it comes to actual goals, consider some of these this year:
- An emergency fund is one of the most important financial goals to set. This is a savings account that you can use in case of emergencies such as a sudden job loss, medical expenses, or unexpected home repairs. It is important to start building this fund as soon as possible, and to set it up in a separate account that you don't touch except in case of emergency. A good emergency fund should cover at least three months of your monthly salary.
- Investments are also an important part of your long-term financial wellbeing. Investing can help you to grow your wealth over time, and to achieve financial freedom. There are many different types of investments you can make, from larger commitments such as buying property to starting small by investing in ETFs, or investing in stocks or mutual funds. Before you start investing, it's important to do your research and to assess the risks. It's also essential to keep in mind that investments always come with a certain level of risk and it's key to be comfortable with that before making any decisions.
- Big material items such as a car or a house are also important goals to set. These are often large purchases that require a significant amount of money, so it's important to start budgeting and planning for them as early as possible. When setting these goals, ensure you consider your current income and expenses, and set realistic deadlines for achieving these goals. It's important to be mindful of the fact that these goals may take time to achieve and it's important to be patient and persistent.
- Don't forget to prioritise things that bring you joy in your financial goals. These can include small luxuries like travel, a daily coffee, or a shopping trip. Make sure to include these in your budget and plan for them just as seriously as you do for other expenses. By including these small pleasures in your financial planning, you can indulge in them without overspending or feeling guilty.
When setting your goals, research and determine how much money you'll need to achieve each one. Keep in mind any external factors such as family responsibilities or dependents that may impact your expenses.
Finally, remember why these goals are important to you. Your motivation will help you stay on track, especially during challenging times. Creating a vision board, placing images of your goals on it and placing it where you can see it daily, can also be a helpful tool in keeping you motivated and focused on your objectives. Remember, if you can't see it, you can't be it.
Tanya Rolfe is a co-founder of Sophia. She is also a co-founder of Harriet, which helps female founders fundraise capital, and host of The Money Makers Podcast, which interviews inspiring women in finance and female founders in Asia.
Front & Female’s Wealth With Sophia series is a collaboration with Sophia, a financial education platform built by women for women, to open up the conversation about money and help drive female financial literacy. The series covers all things money and investing to enable women to gain the confidence to take control of their wealth creation.