I used to be a financial mess. I have monthly salary and money from my side hustles but I end up living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t have debt but I wasn’t achieving anything in the financial side.
And so I made a New Year’s resolution this year to get my finances in order. This post I will share to how I’m going to make it happen. Most of this I’ve already implemented in the past, only not as hardcore about it as I could like budgeting, tracking my expenses, etc.
I hope reading this post will help you keep a more organized and balanced financial life.
Start with a year-end review
I cannot stress how important a year-end review is. If you have not yet created one for yourself, please do this first. All it takes is a couple of minutes, a blank sheet of paper and a pen.
What is a year-end review?
A year-end review is a good way to set yourself on a better pace for the New Year. In this activity you recall and record what happened in the past year and assess what could be better out for the next year.
To recap this is how a year-end review works:
First, re-evaluate your goals.
If you set your goals at the start of the year then you can revisit each and review the status. What goal/s is/are done or accomplished already? Is there any goal that’s not relevant anymore?
Second, review your spending habits.
Find out who and how you are when it comes to spending your money lately. Are you saver or spender? Do you spend more on your needs or your wants?
Third, start your side hustle.
Think of a passion project you can do on the side next year. Or any activity that could help increase your income.
Fourth, calculate your net-worth.
To give you a concrete road map you need to calculate your current net-worth. I provided a simple template for you to use.
Lastly, list down your next actions.
Once you’re done with steps 1-4, you can now make an action list. Commit yourself in doing the items written in your next action list to start the New Year strong!
Know your current net worth
Once you are done with recap of the past year, you have to determine your net worth.
Why is this step crucial in taking control over your finances this 2019?
Because it serves as a reference point on what you need to control.
Knowing our current financial net worth is like a map that could lead you to a specific destination. It can also be point out that financial net worth is the total net wealth. It can be daunting at first imagining that you are computing for your total assets and your total liabilities but you owe it to yourself to have a marking point. Once you know your Financial Net Worth it will be easier to plan your goals and so on.
So how do we calculate it?
Make a list of all your assets and estimated market value (how much they worth when sold)
Make a list of all your liabilities and the real amount (credit card debts, loans, personal debts, etc.). If you are paying your credit card on time and with the maximum amount needed, no need to put it as a liability.
Once you have the sum computed, subtract them with each other.
That’s your net worth.
Total Assets – Total Liabilities = Current Net Worth.
There are two results that could happen when you calculate your net worth.
1. Positive meaning your assets and way bigger than your liabilities! (A-MAZ-ING! Keep doing your best to stay positive)
2. Negative meaning your liabilities/debts are way bigger than your assets! (Time to work this out and end 2019 with positive net worth).
Again the main point why you are calculating your net worth is to know your numbers. Simply put, this is your age, how much assets do you have?
Write down your goals for 2019
Now that you have cleared the past year (year-end review) and calculated your net worth (current financial status) you are all set and ready to set some goals.
Setting goals is highly important too. I think setting goals is actually a good indication that you are finally taking control over your finances. It is now you hoping again, challenging yourself again, and moving forward for a better year ahead.
I’ve never been so good in achieving all of my goals. But for this year I am committing 100% in doing my best to achieve almost everything. Here are some of the best tips I found about goal-setting:
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
S.M.A.R.T. refers to Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
When you follow this format, you will definitely find it easier to achieve goals.
Here is an example:
Instead of saying – save more.
Say – Save Php 1000 a month as emergency fund this 2019.
The goal now is specific – the amount you want to save is available plus the reason why you are saving up is there.
The goal now is attainable – if you base the Php 1000 in the current salary you get, I don’t see any reason why you can’t attain the said goal.
The goal now is measurable – you will save every single month. You know exactly that that Php 1000 should accumulate every month.
The goal now is relevant – it is a must to build an emergency fund. Having a buffer money for emergencies is a must do for everyone.
The goal now is time-bound – again there is a deadline available, this 2019.
Breakdown your goals into quarterly milestones or monthly tasks.
Do not stop with just a list of goals for the year. You need to breakdown your goals further to quarterly and monthly milestones.
Again taking from the smart goal – Save Php 1000 a month as emergency fund this 2019.
Your 1ST Quarter Milestone will be – Have Php 3000 saved as emergency fund by March 30, 2019.
Your Monthly Tasks will look like this:
January – Transfer Php 1000 to Emergency Fund on January 25.
February – Transfer Php 1000 to Emergency Fund on February 25.
March – Transfer Php 1000 to Emergency Fund on March 25.
The key here is to breakdown your yearly goals into bite size pieces so it is easier to achieve.
Share your goal to someone
I believe in accountability partners. I prefer sharing my goals online because it helps me stay accountable of my actions. If you are married, this could be your spouse. If you are single, you may have your sibling or parents. Just share it to someone so you can be committed in taking actions.
Make a budget
Budgeting is one of the 10 most important lessons in personal finance. Here you do one thing and one thing alone – allocate the money you have.
A budget is an estimate of your income and expenses over a set period of time. Normally done on a monthly basis, budgets work to:
1. Allocate your salary/income/money wisely
2. Know how much is coming in and going out in your cash flow
3. Identify the areas where you can spend less to save more
How to create a budget?
First, choose a system you want to follow. There are plenty of systems you can use to budget. Some prefer apps, others Excel File or old school pen and paper. I used to budget using apps and Excel but now I use a separate bullet journal to manage my money. I also recommend cash envelope system if you want to really see where your money is going.
Now that you have a system sorted out the next step to enter your details. How much income you have. The dates when that income can be spent before a new income comes. All the budget categories or expenses you have. This includes Tithe, bill, house rent, food grocery, etc. It is important to have a set of budget category that works for you. Don’t put car if you don’t have a car, put transportation allowance or commute allowance instead. Keep it as simple as possible so you won’t go crazy budgeting every start or end of the month.
Next determine your spending percentage. The most common followed spending percentage is the 50-20-30 Rule meaning 50% of your income goes to essential expenses like bills, food and transportation allowance, etc. 20% goes to financial goals like savings and investments. And 30% goes to lifestyle expenses or your wants.
Currently my spending percentage is 61-30-9 wherein 61% of my income goes to essential expenses, 30% to savings and investments wile I keep a 9% for any wants like a new book, bonding with friends/family, etc.
You are free to choose which spending percentage is right for you. Tracking your expenses can greatly help you find the correct percentage that will not leave you feeling broke all the time.
Just budget. Use the system you want to use, grab a calculator and start allocating the real values. This will seem daunting at first but once you get a hang of it, budgeting will get easier. Trust me.
If you do a year-end review, calculate your net worth, write down your goals and budget you have pretty much achieve major improvements in your finances. Now it’s time to take the control of your finances to the next level.
Automate your finances
This is a life changing trick I’ve learned and will never depart from it.
Do not let yourself have too many options on where your money go. Automate your finances wherever you can.
You can clearly see how I’ve implemented this on my money map. How I organize my finances is that I just automate everything. I know 10% of my take home pay should be transferred to my savings account, 10% to my retirement accounts (mutual fund and index fund) and 10% more to my wealth fund (stocks).
As soon as possible (like the moment I see money on my paycheck account) I automatically transfer the funds to where they should be.
Once all my financial goals – 30% are transferred, that’s the only time I pay for the essentials like tithes, bills and allowance. For tithes I already pre-calculated the money I need to bring every month so it’s way easier too.
If you have questions about automation please leave them at the comment section below and I will try to answer.
Track your expenses
Budget is step one, tracking your expenses is step two. I never understood the value of tracking your expenses until I made one for myself.
- It helps identify your spending habits. Where your money usually goes, is it vices? Is it food? Is it on important items?
- You are less likely to make impulsive purchases or spend beyond your budget. Because you have been keeping an eye of how much you spend on specific things, you can notice firsthand when you spend more than the amount you intended to spend.
- Helps you build a better budget next time. This is where a lot miss when it comes to budgeting – it is a constant trial and error. There is always a room for improvement every single time. If you track your expenses and find that you are overspending on food/lunch at work from a budget of Php 100 a day, you 15 out 20 times spend Php 120, you can now adjust this on your next month’s budget. You can either allocate more money on food and cut back on the “wants” category or you can set a goal of bring lunch to work instead or finding food within the budget. This is something a budget alone cannot do because you don’t have a record of where your money goes.
I can over with more benefits of tracking your expenses but I like to reserve them on another post. What I want you to know is that, tracking helps take control your finances. It helps create a budget that works.
Do you have unpaid debt from last year?
Getting out of debt is one of the best financial move you can do in your life. It promotes financial peace and security, more money to spend without guilt and improves your ability to save and invest.
Eliminating debt is a good way finally take control over your finances. But how do you pay off debt?
Here are ways:
1. Add debt payment in your budget
Add debt in the amount you need to pay. If you remember the 50-20-30 Rule of Budgeting you can use this and alter the 30% on Lifestyle Fund to your Debt-Payment Fund. With 12,000 income you can use 50% for essential expenses, 20% for saving and investment and 30% for paying debt.
2. Pay the Most Expensive Debt First
According to Dave Ramsey’s Money Makeover a great strategy to get out of debt fast is to pay the most expensive debt first. Arrange your debt from highest to lowest interest rate (or even amount) and alongside write down the maximum amount you can pay monthly.
3. Don’t Get into More Debt
Pay first your current debt before accumulating a new debt. This maybe a hard one but just please, refrain yourself from getting into more debt.
4. Find out means to decrease your expenses
There may be items and habits you do that cause you to spend more than your means. Kyle’s guest post will teach you how to really live below your means.
5. Increase your income
If your goal is to really pay your debt then you might need to look for extra income.
I opened my first investment vehicle in 2014 and now I have Php 100,000 saved and invested already.
The amount may be too low for some, but as an average working girl with an average salary, this is a big accomplishment already.
Investing may seem daunting at first but the sooner you do it, the better. I highly suggest investing whatever spare money you have after you eliminated your debt. Instead of wasting that money on lifestyle purchases that does not accumulate in value, try opening an account in an investment vehicle that suits your risk appetite.
You can start with Php 5,000 even lower.
Read next: How to Invest Your Money for the First Time
Increase your current income
Paula of Afford Anything has explained this explicitly saying:
In between “what you earn” and “what you spend,” there is a gap.
Your job is to make this gap as wide as possible. Mind the gap.
There are two ways to increase this gap:
- Earn More
- Spend Less
Both are critical. But the more you make, the easier it is to save – and the more substantial those savings become.
Okay, let me share to you a crucial application of this minding the gap, at least from my own financial perspective.
But I don’t have the money to ace the goal.
I can save money, yes, but my day job salary is limited. It can only allow me a 10% saving rate without sacrificing the essential bills I have to pay.
So I have to mind the gap.
This is the part where side hustles come in. Without blogging and hosting weddings and events on the side I will not be able fund a trip abroad and still have money to pay my bills.
Increasing your income is important too. And it makes taking control of your finances easier.
Ways you can increase your income this year:
- Ask for a raise or promotion (if applicable)
- Get a side hustle
- Start blog or YouTube channel
Final Notes from SavingsPinay
There is still chance to take control of your finances this 2019. Here are 9 ways you can do so:
1. Start with a year-end review
2. Know your current net worth
3. Write down your goals for the year
4. Make a budget
5. Automate your finances
6. Track your expenses
7. Eliminate debt
8. Start investing
9. Increase your income
The New Year comes with a promise of a new beginning. If you like your financial life to be finally be in order the above things might help.
I believe the way we handle our finances affect a lot of areas in our life. Start 2019 fresh start and get on the road to financial success.
Hope this post helps.
Are you ready to take control of your finances this 2019?
Izza of SavingsPinay promotes financial literacy for the young and young at heart by providing insights and tips on budgeting, saving, investing and online entrepreneurship. Aside from this blog she also writes at www.izzaglinofull.com, a beauty and lifestyle blog for frugal Pinays and manages, www.izzagevents.com, a wedding and event business since 2011. For inquiries, topic suggestions or future collaborations email her at firstname.lastname@example.org