How to Avoid Overspending this Christmas SeasonDecember 7, 2018
Saad Baksh 2018 – 2019 MDRT Co-Chair of Ambassador ProgrammeJanuary 15, 2019
With a new year quickly approaching, we’ll all make lofty resolutions regarding fitness or productivity or promises to finally eat better for the year. But what about your financial health? With 2019 around the corner, there’s never been a more perfect time to get into the right financial mindset so as to not repeat mistakes made in the past: and that starts with your financial resolutions.
While the saying is ‘go big or go home’, creating New Year goals that are too big is a surefire way to fall off the wagon after only a couple weeks. When it comes to financial resolutions, saying ‘pay off my debt’ is the perfect example: yes, while it’s a great goal to work towards, it’s more difficult to obtain.
You might not be able to pay off all your debt in a year, but you can strive toward financial success by making smaller, more-attainable resolutions to enter 2019 with. So how can you do better in the new year? Try including these financial New Year’s resolutions!
Identify Financial Goals and Mistakes
The first step to really being smart about money in the coming year is to stop and assess what you want to work on financially throughout the year. Maybe it’s that you want to pay off your car. Maybe you want to buy a house. Maybe you just want to make a dent in your pile of debt. Whatever it is, this should be the first resolution of the year: figure out exactly what you’d like to work on for the rest of the year.
Take the time to really consider your financial habits for the year past, as well. Do you exhibit any toxic behaviour that should be stopped now? Are you behind in any particular areas? It’s important to see where you need to improve and see what can be learnt from past financial mistakes. If you know you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, consider whether you’re living above your means, or assess where your money is going. It’s recognizing these habits that will help you when growing financially this year.
Open a Savings Account
This seems almost obvious – but you’d be surprised how many people don’t have a separate account to their everyday expenses account. While you might think you’re saving money, leaving it in the same account makes it easier to access and easier to spend.
The saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ works best when it comes to saving money; and automatically moving a percentage of your monthly income to a separate account makes it easier to forget it exists, and harder to use.
Start by contributing 10% of your monthly salary the day it’s deposited into your accounts – soon you won’t even feel the difference, and you might even be able to increase how much you’re saving month-to-month.
Track Your Expenses
You know the scene: you get paid, swipe your card a couple times, and next thing you know, you’re basically counting down the days until the next pay day. This needs to stop in 2019! Keeping track of your day-to-day and monthly expenses is an absolute must if you want a healthy money mindset in the new year.
Take a look at your expenses for one month, and break them down based on categories: food, alcohol, entertainment, bills, etc. Identify the areas you’re spending cash unnecessarily and make the effort to cut down where you can. For example, let’s say you find you’re wasting a lot of money on food, make it a habit to pack lunch for work.
One way to help keep track of your day-to-day expenses is to sign up for online banking; you can log online or through your smartphone and track as you spend, so you’re not shocked at the end of the month when your balance is low.
Introduce a No-Spend Rule
Easily one of the harder resolutions on this list, commit to one “no-spend” day a week, or even one weekend per month. Choose a period of time where no money is allowed to leave your bank account: not for food, to go to the movies or to shop. You can make exceptions, like gas for your car, but try to really stick to a no-spend period, and see how that makes a massive difference in your monthly expenditure. Even if it’s just one day a month, the small savings will add up over time.
Cut the Credit
While many of us have come to rely on our credit cards for daily purchases or things that we just can’t afford right now, careless spending on credit cards can lead to crippling debt. For 2019, make the effort to stop living on credit cards, and get out of the “swipe now, figure it out later” mindset. Relying on a debit or bank card requires you to only use the money that you have in your account at the time, so there’s no room for left-overs or owing, and there’s less debt piling up month after month.
While a savings account is a great idea, especially when you’re now learning to save money, investing in a government bond or mutual fund might actually be the better choice when it comes to long-term saving. The average interest rate for savings accounts at local banks is less than 1%, while a fixed deposit through Fidelity Finance can offer you as high as 3% in interest on your savings. If you’ve already established a sum of savings, it might be a good idea to talk with a financial advisor at Fidelity and explore these options.