It’s common to set financial goals at the beginning of the year when we are feeling refreshed and motivated. However, we are now in the sixth month of 2022, marking the mid-way point, and it could be that you have lost some momentum or things hadn’t panned out exactly the way you hoped they would.
Not only is it always a good idea to evaluate your financial situation at certain intervals, but a mid-year financial review is just what is needed to get you back on track, and we’ve compiled a checklist to make it easier.
In our 2022 Financial Goals blog earlier this year, we spoke about managing debt and setting up direct deposits for certain costs or savings. We also touched on developing habits – and if you’re a business owner, what types of financial cover to consider and plan for.
See our Mid-year Financial Checklist below:
>> Are my goals still the same?
Re-evaluating your goals form the starting point for a financial wellness checkup. Without a clear idea of where we are headed, it’s difficult to plan. However, as time goes on, our goals might shift – whether financial or otherwise – so it’s likely these will need to be updated.
An example of goals could include buying a house, or perhaps you want to grow your business by a certain percentage by the end of the year. You might only want to slightly tweak your existing goals, or perhaps you’d like to replace or add new goals entirely. In fact, setting new goals could be just what you need for renewed motivation to stick to your financial and savings plan!
Remember that the best goals follow the S.M.A.R.T system – which stands for ‘specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time specific’ – as this will prevent you from reverting back to old habits.
In turn, your savings plan should match your goals. Examples of savings goals could include:
- Save up 3 months’ expenses for an Emergency Fund
- Pay a deposit on a house in 3-5 years.
- Retire at age 65 with 75% of current income.
>> How is my credit looking?
The first step to saving is paying off any bad debt. This includes personal loans, credit card debt, clothing accounts, etc, as these types of debts charge higher interest rates.
At the beginning of 2022, we suggested making a list of everything that is owed and working your way down the list; and to start by paying off the small amounts first. Have you seen the list start to shrink yet? Have you taken out any additional debt since the start of the year?
Now is also the time to reevaluate your existing debt. While you won’t be able to avoid debt completely (and in fact shouldn’t, as good credit can be important) but it is important to notice trends – is your debt level going up, declining, or unchanged from the start of the year? If it’s on the rise, it’s imperative you identify where things might be going awry and take serious steps to correct them.
Your debt level is also an important metric in determining your “creditworthiness,” so consider pulling an up-to-date credit report. If your credit has improved, you might consider moving forward with some of the goals you set at the beginning of the year.
>> Could I be saving more?
Take stock of how your spending has been over the first half of the year. Were there any unexpected costs you didn’t take into account? Is something costing more or less than you expected? For example rising petrol and food costs could be eating into your original budget, especially in the context of post-Pandemic economic downturn and rising inflation exacerbated by the Ukraine/ Russia conflict.
Were you able to save as much as you had hoped? Did you have to dip into your savings due to an unforeseen event? Answering these questions will determine whether an adjustment to your savings approach is needed in order to achieve your goals by the end of the year.
If you need to up your savings efforts, scrutinize where you can curb unnecessary spending and change behaviors to improve. Remember that your ‘disposable income’ (aka spending money) is what’s left over AFTER you put money towards your long-term financial goals.
Saving for a rainy day means having at least 3 months of living expenses in reserve for uncalled events; at least this is what the experts advise. Your budget should at least account for 20% (ideally 30%) of your income (after tax) going towards savings or investments.
On the other hand, if you’re fortunate enough to have increased your earnings – whether through a raise, a new job that offered you a higher salary, or a streak of good luck in business – there is now an opportunity to consider increasing your savings even further!
>> How can I make my money work harder for me?
As an alternative to traditional saving, there are other ways to make your money grow that are worth exploring. If you haven’t yet considered it, investing can be an effective tactic to make your money work harder for you – even as the risks might be higher.
For those seasoned investors, do a midyear deep dive to determine if your investments are still in line with your objectives.
Fortunately, each of your financial goals can be addressed with different investment vehicles – although people are often overwhelmed by the range of investment vehicles available. This is where a professional comes in, as they can demystify your options for you and advise on the best way forward to get the most ‘bang for your buck’, best tailored to your unique situation and goals.
If you run a business, perhaps there are smart ways you can save on tax that you might have overlooked. For example, you could save on your tax bill with deductible expenses, such as office equipment. You may also qualify for certain tax exemptions that reduce your tax obligation. In this instance it is a good idea to consult with a professional, helping you save in the long run.
Once you’ve identified areas that need addressing to improve on your financials for the rest of 2022, how does one get back on track?
Achieving financial freedom is all about cultivating good habits. A good starting point is getting your budget under control. Having a clear and accurate sense of all your expenses is important, as a lot of expenditure is unconscious and could even be identified as wasteful or unnecessary.
See the remainder of the year as an opportunity! While the first six months may have been tight, thankfully, there is a silver lining as we saw a revival of South Africa’s GDP in Quarter 1.
Be clear about what you want, stay in control of your money, and always plan ahead…. Remember that a plan is only a plan if it’s implemented – by sticking to your guns you will start to see results. Hopefully this midyear review will help with the renewed discipline and determination needed to get you there.
It’s a good idea to meet with an independent financial adviser to get help on your financial goals and outline a plan to help get you there, with their guidance. If you would like to take the first step toward your financial freedom, contact us today!