While it may be daunting to plan your finances a whole year in advance, it is possible to break it up into more manageable chunks by dealing with one area per each month.
January: Create a budget
Develop a budget template by recording both expenses and income so that you can easily identify areas of overspending and act on this before it gets out of hand.
February: Tax season
With the end of the tax year looming, you should use this month as an opportunity to maximise the tax benefits provided by products, such as retirement annuities and tax-free investment accounts.
March: Pay debts
Identify any accounts or loans with high interest rates and try to pay as much money per month as possible toward these.
April: Draft your will
Estate planning will ensure that you have enough liquidity in your estate to avoid a situation where beneficiaries end up having to sell off assets to pay estate duty or capital gains tax.
May: Income protection
Ensure that you have income protection cover in place to protect yourself against the financial risks associated with sickness or disability, which could result in you losing your ability to earn a monthly income.
June: Home maintenance
Most standard short-term insurance policies will only cover damage that is unforeseen, so if it is determined that damage is caused by lack of maintenance, the claim could be rejected. As a result, it is important to conduct basic maintenance checks and repairs to your property.
July: Savings month
July is National Savings Month and provides a timely reminder of the importance of setting specific goals for a long-term savings plan. Consider setting up a monthly a debit order that will automatically transfer funds into a savings account.
August: Check your investments
If you have an investment portfolio, you must assess it at least once a year to ensure that you are still on track to achieve your goals.
September: Retirement planning
It is imperative that you begin to set aside a sufficient monthly contribution towards your retirement to allow the investment to grow as much as possible over the years to come.
October: Medical Aid
As your medical needs may change during the course of the year, a review now will allow you to determine whether you need to upgrade or downgrade your medical benefits.
November: Saving for education
The cost of education in South Africa has soared over the past few years and parents need to start saving for their children’s education as soon as possible.
December: Changing careers?
Avoid the temptation to spend your accumulated retirement funds on Christmas presents or a holiday, this money should only be used for its original intended purpose – retirement.
The good news is that you do not have to undertake this journey alone. A lifestyle financial planner can help you to make the right decision for you throughout your life. A good planner will coach you to do the things you do not necessarily want to do, in order to live the life you want to live. You should not wait until you are contacted by a planner before you start working on your financial plan, but rather collaborate with a planner who understands your personal needs in order to achieve financial independence.
Author: Tiffany Boesch CA(SA) is Group Financial Director of PPS