2020 forced us to move out of our comfort zones. Major shifts in our lifestyles had to occur as our work environments changed: children had to be homeschooled, shopping habits changed and basic activities like having dinner at a restaurant, going to the gym or even going to the hairdresser/ barber called for creativity.
Speaking of adapting, it is time to rethink the way you save, invest and plan for your financial future. Here are six tips to get you started:
1. START TODAY!
- Make a financial plan. Determine what your expenses and revenues are. Derive an amount that you can save every day/week/month and put that money in your savings account. Come in and talk to us and let us make your savings happen.
- Make a budget. Make a list of all your regular expenses, then analyse that list to determine your needs and your wants. Unfortunately, in the short term, some of those wants will have to be sacrificed to ensure your future needs can be met.
- Don’t just save, invest. To grow wealth, you have to invest, not just save. We all know how low interest rates are on savings accounts, which means it would be in your best interest to invest your savings and earn a potentially higher return. Investing may seem scary, especially to novice investors, but there are several options out there to meet your risk appetite. The two things that will be key to selecting the right investments for you will be:
- Time horizon – how long do you have before you will use the money you have to invest today. This might be the most important factor in how much risk you can take on in your portfolio.
- Risk tolerance – are you risk-averse or a risk taker? Based on your risk tolerance, your investments will vary; more stocks equal higher risk, whereas more fixed income securities are less risky. If you are intolerant of risk, there are always certificates of deposits and savings accounts. Remember, the further out your time horizon, the more risk you can afford to take on in your investment portfolio.
2. DETERMINE YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS
Figure out what you want in life and when you would like to achieve these goals. Think about what you want to do in the short term (within the next 12 months), the medium term (within the next 3 to 5 years) and in the long term. Without a plan or a clear picture of what you’re saving for, it’s easy to underestimate how much money you will need and when. Do yourself a favor, determine your financial goals and write them down. After you have your list, do some research and determine an average cost for each of these. This will help you determine how much you need to save. Keep in mind, your goals should be SMART: Specific • Measurable • Achievable • Realistic • Time-bound.
3. MANAGE YOUR DEBT
Debt is sometimes easy to get into but difficult to manage and pay off. Debt is not limited to loans but also extends to credit cards. Always be mindful of how much credit card debt you are accumulating. It may be easy to just swipe if you see something you like, but remember you have goals and that means knowing your budget. Always remember the difference between needs and wants and stick to your budget. Try to pay off your credit cards on time every month as the interest rates on that debt is usually over 20% annually. When accessing debt, be careful when using cash as security. Keep in mind that cash doesn’t necessarily need to be held at the bank; sometimes your collateral can be held in an investment account. Find out from your banker where your collateral can be held and use the option with the highest return.
4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TECHNOLOGY – AUTOMATE!
As much as possible, have your salary and other income directly deposited to your bank account, then use your online banking to transfer funds to your savings plan and your investment accounts. You can even set up automatic recurring transfers. Automation can take something that can be overwhelming and make it easy.
5. ASK FOR HELP
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re not a financial expert, ask for help. At UTC, we are your Partners for Life and we will help you navigate any financial uncertainty you may have. Financial advisors can help you select the best mix of mutual funds for your portfolio.
6. PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED
It is always good practice to set aside emergency funds for when unexpected life events happen. Aside from an emergency fund, consider whether you need to invest in insurance. Health, home, car, disability, critical illness insurance, for instance. Risk protection insurance for home and other assets is key to managing and mitigating future unexpected losses. Disability and health insurance may seem unnecessary, but as we all get older, it may be more of a necessity than you think. Consider having a conversation with a professional to determine what you need and what you can afford.
To sum things up, we all have an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learnt from last year. Take the time to make some positive changes for your future. It may seem like a daunting task at first, but you might actually enjoy making a plan and working towards it. As time goes by and you get closer to achieving your goals, that feeling of accomplishment will be priceless.