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New year, new financial you: Are you resolution ready?

December 20, 2016  |  #Financial planning news and insights

it's a simple process

Did you set yourself a new year’s resolution last year? Did you stick to it? If not, don’t despair, as Finder.com.au statistics showed 58 per cent of Australians failed to hit their intended goals in 2015.

A University of Scranton study in the Journal of Psychology, published at Statistic Brain, offered even bleaker estimates. The research showed just 8 per cent of people achieve their new year’s resolution each year.

A financial health check tool can give you an overview of your finances to help you guide future planning decisions.

Trying to improve your finances is a common target for many people; in fact, it was the third most popular resolution in the University of Scranton study. But why wait until the new year to start preparing yourself financially for 2017?

You need to be resolution ready as early as possible to have the best chance of staying the course, so here are a few tips to help you get a head start.

Undergo a financial health check

You need to fully understand your financial challenges before you rush headlong into a solution. If your resolution was to lose weight, you would weigh yourself. Trying to cut down on your smoking? You’d calculate how many cigarettes you get through each day.

This approach is the same for your finances; you need an idea of what your current situation is before you begin thinking about realistic goals. A financial health check tool can give you an overview of your finances to help you guide future planning decisions.

The test takes about 10 minutes and you will be asked about your income, investments, budgeting, debts and retirement plans, among other topics. Based on your answers, you’ll receive a health score and a personalised report that drills down into the areas where you need to take action.

Get SMART about your objectives

Your 2017 resolution may be to ‘spend less and save more’, but you are more likely to fail if your goals are vague or immeasurable. Having a concrete financial target should provide you with greater motivation, which is why SMART goal setting could offer a better approach.

SMART typically stands for specific, measurable, attractive, realistic and time-framed. For example, you would need to set a dollar amount you’d like to save by the end of 2017, making sure the target is both achievable and desirable given your current finances. This provides you with structure and clarity while working towards your goals. Used in combination with a financial health check, you have a powerful foundation for entering the new year with a sophisticated resolution plan.

The most common reason for breaking a new year’s pledge is not monitoring progress.

Keen to get started? Book an appointment with an adviser as soon as possible to discuss an appropriate financial target that you can commit to in the new year. If you schedule a meeting any later than January, you’ll miss out on valuable time.

Ready tech, go!

Utilise technology wherever you can to help you in your resolution journey. The Finder.com.au survey revealed the most common reason for breaking a new year’s pledge is not monitoring progress (25.23 per cent), while nearly 15 per cent claimed they simply forgot about their resolution.

Technology can shoulder some of these burdens. For instance, cash management apps such as Money Dashboard provide a central hub that shows all your expenditure so you can better track your finances. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s TrackMyGOALS app, as the name suggests, allows you to monitor and prioritise your financial goals.

More generally, you can set up mobile alerts and calendar reminders to inform you of key dates for hitting your financial targets. Social media can also be a powerful support system for keeping on top of your new year’s resolutions; tell all your friends and family your goals and keep them updated on your progress to remain motivated.

Ultimately, the earlier you plan for your financial future, the better – even for short-term goals such as a new year’s resolution. For more help, please get in touch with a member of our team.

This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information. If you decide to purchase or vary a financial product, your financial adviser, Invest Blue Pty Ltd and its subsidiaries operating as Invest Blue, 1300 346 837 and other companies within the AMP Group may receive fees and other benefits. The fees will be a dollar amount and/or a percentage of either the premium you pay or the value of your investments. Please contact us if you want more information.