12 Resolutions that can change your financial life in 2017
Not another set of promises. Follow these 12 resolutions and sort your finances in 2017
Years come and go but only some years will go down in history for having shaken grounds. These years get talked about extensively in the years ahead. 2016 was such a year. With demonetisation that came up towards its end, money was talked about like never before by every citizen of this country.
2017 already promises to be an interesting year, money wise. With the GST bound to be implemented, the annual Budget advanced to February 1 and the fact that there will not be a separate Rail Budget this year—all this has already raised a level of curiousness as to what’s in store for the general public. Whatever the year has in store for us in 2017, here are 12 thoughts that deserve your action.
1. Get a fix on your finances
If 2016 is to go by, you will end up with a good fix on money thanks to the impact of demonetisation. Superior money management is about keeping track of micro-details of everyday financial transactions without losing sight of the big picture of your personal finances. Know where your money goes, even if it means maintaining tedious accounts of incidental expenses.
2. Stick to budget
Draw up budgets and stick to them. A little planning goes a long way: savvy shoppers make a detailed list of their shopping needs before they head out. This limits the damage from impulse purchase decisions that could overtake you in a departmental store.
3. Cut discretionary expenses
You can surely scale back on discretionary expenses without putting your life on hold or taking frugality to joyless limits. For instance, eating out just once a month instead of, say twice, will translate into immediate savings of at least Rs 1,000 a month
4. Create investible surpluses
Sticking to a budget, and just being more aware of your expenses is only half the job done. Your savings must also be invested diligently. Start a systematic investment plan in a diversified equity fund that will automatically access your savings: this will enforce the discipline of saving and investing.
5. Get professional help
So you think you don’t have the expertise or the time to invest in the capital market? Then leave your money in the trusted hands of professional managers. There’s a galaxy of mutual funds out there that will invest on your behalf—for a small fee. Choose a fund house with a good performance record.
6. Invest for the long term
To get the best out of capital market investments, you have to invest for the long term, say over five years. Only then can you ride out the short-term volatility that goes with this class of investments.
7. Milk the tax breaks
The EMI you’ll pay on a home loan will be higher than the rent you now pay. Now factor in the tax breaks, and you’ll find that for much the same annual outgo—or at worst marginally more—you’ll be creating a material asset that’s all yours. Think the same way when it comes to investing using the available tax breaks.
8. Don’t sit on idle cash
Money that’s lying idle in your account like a beached whale is money that’s not working hard enough for you. If it’s inertia that’s keeping you from systematic investment programme (SIP) that automatically debit from rupee-cost averaging: it lets you buy more of the underlying security when the market is down, and restricts your buying when the market is up.
9. Take cover
A grim reality that characterises most Indians is that they are grossly underinsured. A life insurance cover ensures that in the event of your death, your financial dependants get a monetary cushion to absorb the shock of a breadwinner. When you buy life insurance, therefore, don’t be distracted by the tax breaks and the returns: judge it principally for how much cover you get.
10. Start sooner, save more
When you’ve just begun your career and are savouring the sweet delights of financial independence, anything that interferes with your plans for Bohemian revelry sounds like a waste of money. But save you must for your financial goals, including living the last quartile of your life on a retirement corpus you build in your earning years. The sooner you start saving, the more you will accumulate.
11. Get a financial plan
Do the investments that you make—to save tax and for capital appreciation—and the extent of insurance cover you buy and the savings you make for your retirement all fit into a grand pattern? Or are they knee-jerk responses to momentary panic attacks, made in a rush to beat the taxman’s deadline? Get a financial plan in place to chart out the money course of your life.
12. Give and let live
And as you go about getting a life this year, you might feel the urge to spread some good cheer for others less privileged than you. It is, of course, noble to give to charity, but it’s nobler to give to one that submits itself to acceptable accountability standards on its fund use. There are several credible platforms that can do it for you. So this holiday season, be charity—smart.