With a focus on the New Year, this article consists of a short guide to planning ahead for the year to come. It highlights financial activities each quarter of the year and recommends professional guidance.
Another year is over – how was it for you? Did you achieve everything you’d hoped?
Are you better or worse off financially than you were this time last year?
With a new year in front of you, what can you do to make the most of every moment?
We’ve put together a short guide to get you started and plan for the year ahead, a quarter at a time.
January to March
Make a start by turning wishes into goals. Some might be long-term like becoming debt-free, saving a home deposit, or retiring in a few years’ time. What can you do this year to support those goals? Write it all down and give it a name – something you can own.
At the same time, don’t forget living for now. Prepare a month-by-month budget that makes room for the fun times – holidays and celebrations – as well as covering the necessities.
Anticipate spikes in your spending. Do your car, home and life insurance premiums all seem to fall due at the same time putting pressure on your cash flow? Investigate monthly premium payments or spreading renewal dates across the year.
Use this first quarter to bed down the budgeting habit and track your actual spending against your plan.
At the end of March, do a quick review of your progress so far and make adjustments if necessary.
April to June
It’s time to prepare for the end of financial year (EOFY). By June 30 you will want to have made any intended additional superannuation contributions (make sure you stay within relevant limits) and finalised donations to your favourite charities.
Is there any other tax-deductible expenditure you can bring forward?
June is also the month for EOFY sales – an opportunity to grab some bargains on early Christmas shopping and birthday gift purchases. Don’t forget to include these in your budget.
July to September
If you’re expecting a tax refund for the financial year just finished, lodge your tax return early.
What are you going to do with the windfall? Whether you put it towards one of your goals or blow it on a big night out is up to you. Just make sure it’s part of The Plan.
With your tax return out of the way, the third quarter is a good time to start a bit of financial spring-cleaning. Review your super and savings, insurance and Will, loans and credit cards, Power of Attorney, and overall financial strategy. Is everything up to date?
How’s your super doing? Would salary-sacrificing help?
Can you consolidate debt or refinance at a lower rate?
October to December
Into the final strait and how are you tracking? Are you ‘on plan’?
Maybe The Plan you came up with back in January wasn’t realistic. It’s not too late to adjust both your strategy and your expectations.
If things are looking good, it’s important to stay focused. Christmas is looming with its temptations to over-spend.
Once the turkey and plum pudding have settled, it’s time to review the year just gone and to give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve achieved. Then take a deep breath, check your goals, and update The Plan for the coming year.
Your financial adviser is an expert in working out the financial details of how you can achieve your goals. Just as important is the regular encouragement he or she can provide along the way.
Ready to start planning? Give your adviser a call and make a date to nut out your plan for the coming year.