Spring is the perfect time to rejuvenate your financial habits as well as your garden!
Here are 5 ways to set you, and your garden, up for success:
1.Plan your garden: Start with deciding what type of garden you want. In other words, get clear about what goals you want to achieve and by when. Once you have your list of goals prioritise them, so you know where to focus your efforts.
Tip: If a goal is large and will take some time to achieve, set yourself some smaller goals with shorter timeframes along the way.
2. Pull out the weeds: You don’t see garden designers on TV rushing in to plant a new garden without getting rid of the weeds first. In financial terms this is the same as eliminating bad debt. Bad debt is debt used to purchase things that don’t go up in value, like cars and household goods. Financing purchases with credit card debt (where the entire balance isn’t paid off each month), personal loans and perhaps ‘buy now, pay later’ facilities mean paying very high interest rates or late fees. Your total cost ends up much more than the original purchase price. These are your weeds – pull them out and don’t let them take hold again!
3. Prepare the soil: A key element to a flourishing garden is good soil. For us this is managing our cashflow. For many people our income is fairly consistent, so the focus is on managing outflows. Think of this as a spending plan not a budget. The ‘B’ word has a strong association with denial and, much like a diet, too much restriction can be counter-productive. Be honest when completing it as you need to know exactly where your cash is going. Your adviser can be a huge help with this. It’s an opportunity to look at your spending and think again about your goals. Is the enjoyment you get from three streaming services more than what you’ll get from achieving your goal? What do you want more?
Tip: Ways to reduce spending often require some planning. Taking lunch to work can save a heap of money. Too rushed to do it in the morning? Make something the night before – and remember to take it with you the next day!
4. Plant your garden: This is where things start to take shape! Gardens often start small so think of this as your initial investment which over time becomes larger and larger. In your financial life this is the power of compounding. To help those initial plants fill out your garden quicker you can add other small plants over time. This is known as dollar cost averaging or adding regularly to your initial investment to boost the effect of compounding.
5. Protect from pests: Your garden will appreciate some help to guard against pests and disease. In the same way it’s a good idea for you to protect your biggest asset – your ability to earn income. Income protection and other types of life insurance can protect you against unexpected events and prevent all the hard work you’ve put into your financial garden from unravelling.
Success requires commitment because, just like droughts which affect your garden, there will be times when reaching your goal seems hard going. Don’t abandon your dreams! With clear goals, elimination of bad debt, a realistic cashflow plan, disciplined regular saving and protection of your biggest asset, you’ll be harvesting rewards season after season!