2019 has begun—have you gotten your finances in order?
To improve your quality of life and avoid the common money issues among Filipinos, come up with a game plan, stick to it, and track your progress from time to time.
A financial roadmap is what you need to know where you are right now financially, where you should be heading to, and what you need to do to smoothly navigate the road to financial success. This way, you’ll be able to make sound decisions about money that can help you achieve your life goals.
Don’t know where and how to get started? Here are 10 essentials to consider when preparing your financial roadmap for this year.
1. Set Your Financial Goals
Goal setting is the first step in your 2019 financial roadmap. What do you want to accomplish by the end of the year and in the long term? As you write down your financial goals, filter out those that will not support what you want to achieve in life.
Do you have a big expense coming up this year? Whatever that is—getting married, overseas travel, moving out of home to start independent living, buying a new car, or the arrival of a baby—your financial goals must be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). How much can you realistically set aside each week or month to have enough money for funding such life milestone?
Make sure to set short-term goals that are aligned with your long-term goals. For example, committing to pay off your credit card debt in 2019 will help you attain your long-term goal of financial independence.
It’s also important to organize your goals according to your priorities. Your goals may not be achieved all at the same time. This is why you need to prioritize those that matter most and tackle the lesser-important ones afterward.
2. Know Your Financial Position
Once you have your financial goals for 2019, the next logical step is to take a long hard look at your present financial status.
Consider this as some sort of an annual financial check-up. Just as you undergo an annual physical examination every year to detect any serious health problem, knowing the state of your financial health can help you nip a potential issue in the bid before it gets full blown.
To do this systematically, find out your personal net worth. List down all your total assets (including cash savings, properties, emergency fund, etc.) minus your liabilities (including taxes, personal loans, home or car loans, credit card bills, etc.) for the whole year and their corresponding value.
Computing your net worth helps you know how much you own and owe, as well as if you need to adjust your goals and budget. If its value is positive, you’re on the right track with your finances. But if it’s negative, you’ve got to work harder this year to raise your net worth.
3. Secure Your Emergency Fund and Insurance
Are you, your family, and your assets protected against any emergency that can put your finances in peril? Before trying to increase your wealth and get out of debts, you have to build a solid foundation for your financial plan in the form of an emergency fund and life, home, and car insurance.
At least 6 months’ worth of income can cover any unexpected event that can lead to income loss such as unemployment, serious illness or injury, and calamity. It’s best to have it automated so that your funds go to a separate savings account at regular intervals.
As you go about your financial planning for 2019, check all your insurance policies to see which ones need updating, such as when you recently bought a car or had a child. If you have no insurance yet, don’t delay getting one for your financial protection.
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4. Pay Off Your Debts
Having too much debt is a huge stumbling block to achieving your goals. Not to mention that it causes sleepless nights and other forms of anxiety. Your financial planning roadmap for 2019 must include actionable strategies on how you’ll at least minimize your debts. Putting off debt repayments will make it even harder for you to get your personal finance in order. So as much as you can, cut down any unnecessary expense to save extra for paying off your debts.
5. Identify the Areas Where You Can Cut Expenses
Did you just get a raise or an additional source of income? It’s tempting to upgrade to a more upscale lifestyle. After all, you feel you deserve it after putting in hard work and effort to get to where you are now. But no matter how much you’re making, you’ll easily find yourself in a messy financial situation if you’re not strategic about the way you handle your expenses.
Especially now with the TRAIN or tax reform law implementation, the new tax system and price increases will certainly affect your income and expenses. It’s time to examine your expenses and check for those that you can let go. For instance, do you really need to keep that cable TV subscription when you rarely watch TV in the first place?
6. Have an Investment Strategy in Place
Of course, you also have to consider how you’ll grow your money and earn passive income when you do your financial planning for 2018. No single investment vehicle works best for everyone. So study your options well to find out which one fits your risk appetite and financial capability.
It doesn’t cost much to start investing in mutual funds, stocks, or UTIFs (unit investment trust finds). If you can start building or diversifying your investment portfolio this year, the better you can build funds for your long-term goals, such as having a retirement fund or opening a business.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. This saying could not be truer when it comes to managing your personal finance. Without a thorough financial plan for the year, you won’t be as disciplined and organized with your money as any responsible adult should. Develop your financial roadmap as early as now to ensure that you’re on track with your finances in 2019 and beyond.