Managing finances does not have to be a nightmare! Then, let’s face it; creating your own financial plan may be tedious when done alone. You could find the entire math and numbers stuff tedious and difficult at times. You might avoid it, but your finances would suffer as a result. Many of us plan events ahead of time, yet we don’t bother to organise our finances. This creates uncertainty and can lead to disastrous consequences when left unattended.
The key is to manage your finances one step at a time. A personal finance calendar is one tool that can help with this as it allows you manage your finances using a structured approach. It also aids in the setting of financial goals for a specific period (on a yearly, monthly, quarterly or weekly basis).
What is the purpose of a personal finance calendar?
A personal finance calendar can help you see the big picture for the year ahead when it comes to money matters. If you wouldn’t go to combat without any sort of protection, you shouldn’t start the year or live your life without understanding your personal finances. A personal finance calendar helps you to keep track of your planned or estimated expenses. This makes it easy for you to keep your finances in check during difficult times. If you are concerned about your money and finances, you should definitely consider having one.
Follow these simple steps to make your personal finance calendar a success:
Assess your present financial situation
You must first be aware of your existing financial situation before creating your personal finance calendar. Make a list of your assets and liabilities in a journal or spreadsheet.
Create a spending plan or an income and expense statement to help you manage your cash flow. Review past expenses or take a trip down memory lane to examine your spending habits from the preceding month or year. Identify any money mistakes you have made previously and make a note of those you wish to avoid.
There are several apps available to assist you in managing your finances and keeping track of your spending patterns.
Look to the future
A year down the line, something has got to have changed, progress must have been made. Think ahead to the end of the year, what would you like your financial situation to look like? What financial goals would you like to achieve? Often, people don’t stick to their plans or avoid planning for 5 or 10 years in the future (which incidentally is one of the reasons why retirement savings is delayed). You will need to know this information to unpack the next steps.
Make a list of your action steps
A plan can only be achieved when you have identified and implemented the steps that will get you there. Work your way backwards to determine which steps you need to take. For example, if you plan on taking a holiday in December that will cost you R20 000, you will need to save x amount each month. In order to do so, you may need to cut down on certain expenses. Your goal will determine the actions you need to take. No goal can be achieved without the required effort, and all goals need a plan.
Use these action steps to plan ahead
The action steps you have identified will inform your timelines. Use this information to plan your personal finance calendar so that your financial goals are met timeously. If you know you need to save x amount from January till December for your dream holiday, then delaying saving towards this will mean you will need to either save more in the remaining months to get to your R20 000 goal or adjust your holiday plans. Remember, only you have the power to achieve your goals, and sticking to your plan will help you to get there.
Money Messages offers a personal finance calendar and monthly tips to help you have a financially successful year.