Firstly I would like to wish everyone a very happy New Year. 2011 looks like it could be an interesting year, the Jersey economy is still in a delicate condition and we have the GST increase to look forward to. However things could be a lot worse so let's start the year off right with some sensible financial objectives (or resolutions, if you prefer).
I know it’s 5th January but it’s not too late to identify your personal financial objectives for 2011. Here’s a list of concrete tasks you could actually accomplish. I’m not saying they’ll be easy, but all are worth while and, I believe, achievable . Pick a couple of favorites and go to town on them. Happy New Year.
1. Make or update your will. The number one reason people don’t do this is that they believe they will never die. If you are, in fact, immortal, go ahead and skip this one. Otherwise, consult a good lawyer, if you have simple estate this should not take too long and you can offset the lawyers fees against the peace of mind of knowing your affairs are in order. If your estate is more complex then, yes, it will cost more but think of the mess your affairs would have been if you died before you made a will.
2. Carry out a review of your finances. Where does your money go, can you reduce un-necessary expense? A relatively small reduction in weekly expenditure could build up to a reasonable saving at the end of the year (One less bottle of wine at £5 per week = £260 in a year). Are you paying 20% interest on outstanding credit card balances? Concentrate your efforts on paying off your credit card balances, if you have savings earning 0.50% why not consider using some of this cash to reduce your credit card balances.
3. Live within your means. This may be very boring and require some of self discipline but as has been proved by governments around the world you can only borrow more than you earn for so long before the debt situation gets so bad that drastic action is required. I am not suggesting a return to the values of old where no one bought on credit and saved for the any items that they needed but a much more enlightened approach to borrowing. Rather than paying for that expensive holiday on your credit card why not settle for a less expensive holiday and save up 50% of the cost so much less is added to your card.
3. So long as your debts are under control set up an automatic savings plan, if you don’t already have one. Even £10 a week is a fine place to start. With the very low interest rates currently available you need to shop around to find the best rate, but remember to be cautious when selecting a bank to hold your hard earned money. Pick a specific goal, check your progress periodically, and don’t mess with it—except to increase the weekly allotment.
4. Start a business. Hmm, you may think, that sounds too ambitious and anyway I already have a job. OK but why not start small doing something that you enjoy that has some commercial value to others. Jersey Enterprise are the people to see for advice and guidance and once you are up and running you could develop an interesting a profitable sideline. It’s fun to get paid (even a little) for something you enjoy. And if you become un- or underemployed, having an existing side business gives you something to focus on. Which brings us to…
5. Simulate bad news. Armies and governments and many businesses run disaster simulations. You can play the home game, the financial equivalent of testing your smoke alarm. Are you doing enough to prevent an emergency or life change from becoming a financial disaster? This year, evaluate your insurance, your savings, and your family’s plans in the event of job loss, natural disaster, death or illness, and other bad things. This will not be fun, but you know what would be less fun? Doing it during the actual emergency.
6. Plan for financial good news. Now, this is more like it! Here’s hoping you get a raise, bonus, or inheritance this year. It’s about time, right? (I mean, not that I’m actively hoping you get an inheritance. Unless it’s from a rich uncle you never met.) Furthermore, here’s hoping you spend some of it on fun and some of it on long-term goals. Decide now. It’ll take you five minutes. What percent of any unexpected income will you set aside for retirement or the emergency fund this year?
7. Review your lifestyle. Can you make some steps to improving your health and save money into the bargain? Well here’s an easy one, how about using the car less, saving petrol and doing more walking or cycling. Maybe not so attractive in the current wintery conditions but give this some serious thought once the weather warms up. As an added advantage you will become more ‘green’.
Here's wishing you a great 2011 filled with joy and happiness - and peace of mind knowing you're building your financial resources.
Member since: 9th July 2012
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