No one wants to reign in 2015 with a newly-minted hatchback load of debt. But it’s easy to get carried away buying little trinkets for all your pals and new nieces and nephews that were born.
I mean, have you seen the baby section at Indigo?
And let’s not forget all the lavish parties, baking, boxes of wine and ugly sweaters we bought along the way.
Let’s assume your wallet is already hurting because – come on, it is. Meet with a financial advisor
On your 2015 to-do list, meeting with your financial advisor should be at the top. If you haven’t already developed a full financial plan, January is the perfect time to do so, so you can gear up for the tax season that will inevitably sneak up around the corner. Plan to save more than ever
Next on your list is to save more than you did last year. Talk to your advisor about setting aside a small amount per paycheque. Remember, paying yourself is just as important a bill as paying for that data plan. Set up a retirement plan
And if you haven’t done so yet, initiate a retirement plan. “But Vanessa! I’m not retiring, for like, another 30 years!”
That’s OK. Do it now, and thank me later. There is so much changing in our economic world right now regarding pensions and government support that it is up to you to take care of number one.
What will you do if you’re relying on your government to take care of you, only to find out that all benefits have been disintegrated by the time you’re 65?
Tough break. Welcome to being a grown up. Get insured
Segue into chatting about an insurance plan – because when you actually do need the insurance, chances are you won’t be able to get it. Trust me on this one. As a person who had cancer as a teenager, my insurance needs will never be met, which makes it extremely hard for me to plan for my spouse and future children – or any charities I’d like to leave money to.
If you think you’re covered through work – it’s not enough. Most people I’ve met don’t have a clue what is included in their work plan. And what do you think happens to that insurance when you leave your job, get fired, or transfer into a new position?
That’s right. Bye bye, insurance plan.
The real advantage right now is that you’re young. Being young allows you to save more money, since money grows bigger over time, and to harness your good health that will likely wane as you age. Your biggest asset right now is to earn an income, and you should do everything in your power to protect that asset, and utilize it.
You wouldn’t think about driving an uninsured car would you? Why meander in an uninsured body? Think of all those times your feet betray you, sending you tumbling down the icy sidewalk.
This is one of the most stressful times of the year, but it doesn’t need to be. When you feel in control, stress falls away, and you give yourself the real opportunity to thrive. Vanessa Kunderman writes every month on money issues facing millennials. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my favorite sayings from a John Lennon song goes, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
If those life things start to take your attention away from what is really important to you, then before you know it, you begin to shrink your dreams to fit into that life. Make plans early on to achieve the life you want – especially as it pertains to your money.
As we move through life, there will be many events that occur, which more than likely will always have a dollar value attached. Events like furthering your education, travelling, starting a business, getting married, starting a family, or buying a home.
According to the Canadian Council on Learning, Canadians’ well-being depends partially on their ability to understand, analyze, and use financial information that will help them make good decisions in their day-to-day lives, plus plan for the future.
A plan, or setting goals, increases the probability of achieving the desired outcome. In addition, that plan can help minimize obstacles along the way because it keeps us focused on the result. Of the “9 Financial Blindspots” that many of us have experienced, one is not having written goals, which prevents us from attaining the future we desire. S.M.A.R.T.
One method of goal setting is setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal. This is defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant or results-focused, and timely. A quick way to get started is by asking and answering the 5 Ws:
What do I want to achieve?
Who can help me achieve this? Where can I go for advice?
When am I going to achieve this? (You most likely will have multiple goals, some you’ll achieve sooner than others. For example, buying a car will be achieved before reaching your retirement savings goal. For each goal, be specific in the timeframe.)
Where do I need to be in my life to make it happen? (Ask yourself: “Am I currently in a position to attain my goal?” If the answer is “no,” then how will the goal be achieved? By knowing what you want to achieve, move backwards through the steps until you are at the beginning. If this includes saving more than what you have, then how will you get the extra income?)
Most importantly is your WHY. Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important enough that if an obstacle is met, you can overcome it?
In our financial world this looks a lot like a budget. Unfortunately, a lot of us feel that a budget is somehow an outside force making us do something we don’t want to, and we’ll find every excuse under the sun to avoid it. Does that sound familiar?
If it does, try changing your perspective to “I’m making a plan to invest in my future,” or “I’m saving for what really matters to me.”
By making achievable goals and reviewing them regularly, this affords us the opportunity to meet the many changes in our lives with less stress and more satisfaction. It’s never too early to work on getting the life of your dreams! Janice Desautels has been working with families and individuals for the last seven years helping educate in the field of financial literacy. She is a Certified Financial Educator with over 15 years experience in teaching and training adults.