I recently came across a statistic which stated that only 8% of people achieve their financial goals for the year. While it might be relatively easy coming up with financial goals, the difficult part is going about achieving them.
Personally, my financial goals for the year are starting an investment for my baby’s education and investing more of my wealth offshore in order to protect myself against a volatile rand. But now what - How can I ensure that when December comes around, I will have achieved my goals for 2017? As we head into the new year, I pose that question to you - How will you make certain that you achieve your financial goals for the year?
Whether it’s purchasing property, saving for retirement, investing to build your wealth or a combination of various goals, I suggest that your focus be on practising the right discipline, structuring a suitable plan and creating the correct habits to ensure that you achieve what you set out to do this year.
Here’s how you can do this:
- TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR DOPAMINE
I have recently become very interested in dopamine and have been reading up on the subject. After all, it is the scientific explanation of why we feel pleasure. Whether it’s eating a chocolate, doing some exercise or receiving a kiss from the person we love, the spike of pleasure we feel is because our brain is releasing dopamine. Neuroscientists have found that dopamine is so powerful, it can be used to build up a strong habit of perseverance when faced with tough goals.
So, once you have decided on your financial goals for the year, break down each goal into smaller, achievable targets and celebrate when you reach each target. It can be a spa treatment, a fancy dinner or whatever else you desire but be sure to spoil yourself. This will provide you with a hit of dopamine. This cultivation of small wins will propel you to achieving your bigger goal.
Do be careful though to not set the bar too high. Setting big, ambitious goals may be admirable but it can be counterproductive because each time we fail, the brain is drained of dopamine making us less motivated to continue.
Another way to keep motivated is to day dream. Ever had a crush on someone where simply thinking about them would make you happy? It’s because thinking about that person gives you a hit of dopamine which encourages you to pursue them. The same applies for goals. Visualize yourself achieving your goal and picture the benefits. Daydream about how great it would be to own that investment property or to travel the world or to retire early and comfortably. This will encourage you to pursue your financial goals.
- STRUCTURE A SUITABLE PLAN
A common scenario I come across, and one that could be prevented by structuring a suitable plan, is where people struggle financially at the beginning of the year because they have overspent during December. Often, they end up utilizing high-interest debt to cover their monthly bills, which will only make things worse. A good plan here would involve making use of a flexible investment where you have access to the funds whenever you need it. Use this type of flexible investment plan to save up for December. If you find that you only have long-term investment plans where your money is locked-in and you are struggling financially or are forced to go into debt, there is poor planning going on. Good planning involves allocating funds accordingly to ensure goals can be achieved efficiently and successfully.
For example, wanting to purchase an investment property? Great! What’s the plan? First, determine what your affordability is in terms of monthly instalments. Then consider the attorney fees and transfer duty involved. Also consider ad-hoc costs such as maintenance/repairs or a lack of tenants and determine the emergency fund you should ideally have in place for such scenarios. Essentially, there are many factors to consider when achieving goals – it is all a matter of structuring a robust plan that gives you a clear picture of the way forward.
- DON’T PRETEND TO BE RICH
I have been a financial adviser for a few years now. Part of my job is getting to know my client well. It’s useful in that I am able to provide relevant advice. I have met various people from all stages of life and something that struck me about people who are in their forties or older, was how easy it was to distinguish between someone who is financially successful and someone who is not. This made me wonder - why are some people financially successful while others are not? Has it got to do with background, income and family commitments? Perhaps, and there could be several other factors too. One thing I noticed though, was that financially successful people are NOT the ones who earn the most but are rather the ones who are more frugal with their finances. They have financial peace of mind and rarely stress about money.
In contrast, financially unsuccessful people are those that pretend to be rich. They are the ones that place a higher importance on the things they want right now in order to live an affluent lifestyle. They live as though they have more income than they actually do and this leads to inadequate or no savings for the future or even worse, short-term debt such as credit cards and personal loans. Why do they do this? Some people may do it to impress others. Some may do it as a form of retail therapy because it helps them feel better about their situation. Some may also be influenced by the media, their friends or their neighbours. The bottom line is that oftentimes people pretend to be rich when in reality they are struggling financially.
If you are serious in achieving your financial goals this year, don’t be one of those people. It may feel good in the moment but that feeling won’t last and it will be to the detriment of your financial goals, leaving you with limited options in the future.
That’s it from me. Have a great 2017 and if you want to chat or need some financial advice, pop me a message. firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2017 Munaf Mukadam. All rights reserved.
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