As coaching professionals we know that regular self-reflection is good, to help us improve our self-awareness and look at what is great in our lives and what we may need to tweak. Approaching the end of year always seems to be a natural time for reflection; a time to ask ourselves questions such as, what went well, what didn’t go so well and how can we do better next year?
So let’s take stock. How well have you performed financially this year, and what changes or adjustments might you need to make over the next 12 months?
1. Assess your goals
A good first step in any financial review is evaluating your financial goals. Have you made progress on them this year? If not, can you figure out why? Have your goals changed during the year? If so, revise them and write them down.
Are there any new money goals you’d like to set? Do you have income targets in mind? Once you have established your clear goals it will be easier to break down the action steps you need to take monthly, quarterly or annually to reach them.
2. Evaluate changes in your personal situation
Have there been changes in your personal circumstances or do you anticipate any major changes in the near future? A job change, divorce, or adding a baby to your family can dramatically alter your income and lifestyle. You may need to adapt your budget, your spending, your savings and your investments. Be prepared to make some difficult decisions and adjustments to your spending and remember, having time to plan for these changes in advance will make any transition much smoother.
3. Assess your debts
Has your debt increased or decreased this year? Use this time to figure out where any money leaks are taking place and try to plug them. It’s difficult to save and invest when too much of your income is going to interest payments on credit cards or being frittered away on non-essential items. It is also worth knowing your credit score, especially if you are going for a mortgage or loan, as there could be something in your report that dictates you pay higher interest rates. Do also review the interest rate on your mortgage; should you consider re-mortgaging?
4. Review your outgoings / bills
See where you could save on bills by checking out switching and comparison sites. Review the way you now use your mobile, do you need to seek a better deal? Look at your bank statements, and check out any odd payments or old subscriptions that you need to look into. Maybe you need to add a subscription that will help you with your new goals and lifestyle.
5. Prepare for the unexpected and protect your assets
Finally, as a part of your financial review, take a look at your life goals, season of life and family situation. Is your life insurance coverage large enough to protect your loved ones? Does your home insurance adequately cover your belongings? Give some thought to insuring your greatest asset of all – your income-earning ability – with long-term disability insurance. This can remove the worry about paying your bills should you be unable to work or be made redundant. Also, are you prepared for retirement? Do you know where all your pensions are? There are a few apps out there which help you find and consolidate your pension pots to make them easier to manage.
Whether you celebrate Christmas in its original or alternative forms or even if you just have a month of weddings to attend or birthdays to buy for, thinking about our spending habits around these special occasions can help to prevent that ‘Boom or Bust’ mentality and establish healthy spending habits throughout the year. We can plan, save and spend with confidence, knowing that money is our friend and we can stay in control of it all, if we pay it the attention it deserves.
Karen Burke is a business owner, accountant, Power Up Coach, author and speaker. She is co-founder with her husband Devon Burke of the MindBody Therapy Centre in London, and social enterprise T4H. She can also be found on Twitter and LinkedIn
Please note I am not an IFA nor a personal advisor to your personal situation, so please do your own due diligence and research what is best for you at any given time.