What do your goals this year look like? Holiday celebrations are now over and many of us are back to work and real life. It is time to define those financial goals if you haven’t already done it. Here are some pertinent questions to ask yourself as you do so.
1. How will your income increase?
It’s nice to write down how much you will save or invest but how will this get done if you are not planning to make more money? You cannot grow financially by constantly earning the same amount of money year in year out. You may be earning a salary but believe me, this is not in your control. After all it is your employer who decides. Look at the role you are playing at work. What do you need to achieve to earn more? What targets need to be met? What value can you provide? What opportunities exist for you to go the extra mile? Have a strategy for your job so that an increase or bonus can be justified. Income can also be increased by putting a skill you have to good use. Maybe you can cook, paint, bake, write, sing etc. Perhaps it’s even things you have been doing for free for friends and family. You can also do certain investments that can give you an income.
2. What assets are you building?
Too often when we enter into a new year people give vague statements about how they will save or invest more. Look at your portfolio and decide what it will look like by the end of the year. Do you intend to invest in shares, land, business, bonds etc.? Here is the trick with assets. Start learning, doing the research, reading even before you buy it. You become an investor first by acquiring an investment mindset. More money doesn’t necessarily make you an investor. If you want to own land, spend your weekends going to various areas. If you want to start a business, learn what it takes to run a business.
3. How will you get out of debt?
Look at your loans squarely in the face and make a plan to reduce or eliminate them. There’s only one way to get out of debt. By paying it back. So the more important thing to figure out is where to get the money to pay it back. Avoid borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Make a mental note to not borrow especially for consumption purposes. Leave that credit card at home. Cut back your expenses and use that to pay off your loans or as I have already mentioned figure out how to make more money. Some of us may not be feeling much strain over our debt. You may be in what I call comfortable debt. You may have a car loan, business loan or mortgage that you are servicing without much headache. However, if you lost your source of income it would be a problem. So while you are in a fairly stress-free place, commit to reducing this debt as much as possible.
4. Do you have an emergency fund?
If you lost your source of income, can you survive three to six months as you look for another job or figure out your next plan? If not create one. This can be as simple as a separate savings account. Over time build it to have enough funds to sustain you for that time period or even more. So if your life costs you Kshs 100, 000 per month, aim to have three to six hundred thousand shillings in that account. Apart from sustaining your life, there are other emergencies this fund can be used for. Your car can get hit or a medical situation in the family not covered by insurance may arise. This fund will stop you from borrowing to cover these expenses. Any time you dip into it for these emergencies make sure to replenish it.
5. What key life events do you need to be prepared for?
Everybody will retire at some point. It may not mean that you will stop working completely but you may slow down. What pays for the college education? Decide which investments will intentionally go towards these events. You may need to take care of your parents at some point or have a medical situation. A life event that we will also all face is death. Can your financial information be accessed by family members? Maybe it’s time to write that will.
As you write down the answers to these five questions keep note of the actions that need to happen. Let your finances become an intentional part of your life this year. Waceke runs programs on Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship. Get in touch with her on email@example.com|Facebook/WacekeNduati| Twitter@cekenduati