As we enter a new financial year, it can be tempting to try and tackle all of our goals and plans for the new year right out of the gates.
To change everything all at once, and be that brand new and shiny person we’re striving to be across all areas of our lives right from the get go!
The problem with this is we’re setting ourselves up for failure. As soon as we drop the ball on one thing, forget something else, or slip back into an old habit, we can lose focus on the bigger picture all together and give up on our plans.
A more sustainable approach is to make incremental changes and work through things little by little with an attitude of self-compassion, acknowledging that the changes and improvements we are making take practice and time. We may mess up one day, but that’s okay.
If we take it slowly, we’ll be more inclined to stay focused on the bigger picture, and keep going.
When it comes to our money, it can be exactly the same.
Instead of trying to change everything all at once, we’ve put together three smaller changes you can make during the year that’ll make a big impact on your future.
Rather, choose one to start working on now, and work through each item over the coming few weeks or months.
The three habits that can change your financial future:
1. Segregate your weekly personal spending
When we have all of our money in one account, or even several accounts with the same bank, it’s super easy to overspend.
Take a little time to work out how much you need as an allowance each week to cover off all of those daily expenses (like food, drinks, petrol, groceries, gifts and public transport) and then set up a separate bank account (with a separate bank) and have that weekly personal spending allowance amount transferred automatically into your new personal spending account.
From here on in, all you need to worry about each week is sticking to your allocated amount.
You can then use the rest of your money for savings, investing and to pay your bills. (It’s a great idea to set these all onto automatic transfer and direct debit too.) To help you establish your weekly personal spending allowance, we’ve put together a free personal budget planner.
2. Stop using credit cards
This one you could likely start with today.
There are two main ways we use credit cards:
- One, we have them maxed out (or almost maxed out), pay a little off here and there and then spend on them again maintaining a level of personal credit card debt, often for years, and accumulating monthly interest at exorbitant rates.
- Two, we use them ‘responsibly’ to access the rewards points (this is the most common rationale we hear) paying off the balance in full at the end of each month.
The problem with using credit cards in the first way is fairly obvious. You’re accumulating additional expenses in interest and carrying around unnecessary and expensive debt.
The problem with using credit cards in the second way is not so obvious.
Even if you’re really disciplined with making your credit card repayments, the chances are you are overspending. We refer to this as ‘leakage‘.
Because you’re less conscious of your weekly spending limits than you are when using the weekly personal spending method described in the point above, it’s very easy to lose track of exactly what you’ve spent each week and end up going over.
Our data shows overspending of around 30% on average compared with those who use a debit card with a weekly personal spending allowance.
This is where the points argument comes unstuck.
The amount of points you’re likely able to accumulate in a year probably equates to one domestic flight. Let’s say a value of around $300 – $500. Although it may feel great to get that free flight, you’ve probably leaked several thousand dollars on your credits cards (on small things you don’t really value or care about) just to get that one free flight. It’s not worth it. Stick with your allocated weekly spending, and just pay for the flight when the time comes.
3. Start (or increase) investing
So many of our high-achieving Gen Y members join WE in a reasonable financial position, with plenty of cash, but a fear of (or at least a hesitation toward) investing. WE know it can be scary, and we know having your money in the bank feels super safe, however over the long term you’ll be going broke slowly with this approach, and simply won’t be able to build the level of wealth you need to achieve financial freedom.
Thankfully technology (like Acorns and Stockspot) has meant we can now start investing online with as little as cents. It’s much less scary when its simply rounding up to the nearest dollar your everyday purchases, or chucking a few hundred dollars a month into a diversified portfolio.
Obviously, we’d rather you book in for a Financial Possibilities Consultation (no cost) and ultimately receive professional financial advice around investing and your overall financial plan, but it’s great these simple to use online options exist, and enable us to dip our toes in the water and get used to investment markets before making bigger moves with our money.
Disclaimer: all information contained within this article is of a general nature. Do not rely upon it when making financial decisions. Please consult a professional financial advisor or planner (like us!) before acting. We do not endorse or recommend Acorns or Stockspot, they are simply examples of investment technology currently available. We have not been paid or compensated in any way for mentioning these products.