Five steps to reach your money goals in 2017


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"Where has the year gone?" is a familiar cry around Christmas as we look back at the past 12 months and all we accomplished. Or didn't.

Chances are you may not have achieved all the financial and lifestyle goals you set for yourself at the start of 2016.

One in four Australians have not made a financial plan and two in five have made only vague objectives.

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So what can you do in 2017 to make sure you achieve your financial and lifestyle goals?

Here are five tips to get you off to a good start:

1. List your achievements for 2016

Many people find it daunting to set goals.

But try writing down your achievements for the past year: things such as receiving a pay rise, laying new carpet in the bedrooms, going on a long-awaited holiday, teaching your child to play tennis, spending more time with your spouse over coffee/tea with no TV, and so on.

Write down every goal, whether financial, lifestyle or relational, because it may show that you have achieved much more than you initially thought.

The positive mindset this creates can then help with setting new goals or tweaking old ones.

2. Set financial goals and seek professional advice

About 20% of Australians seek financial advice. A fee-for-service, strategy-focused planner can help to set realistic and achievable goals.

There is an absolute correlation between having a list of goals and the success in achieving them.

It is a good idea to break them down into the short term (two years), the medium term (three to five years) and the long term (six or more years).

3. Put in places a real savings plan

Around 47% of Australians wish they had saved more.

Most people manage their cash flow like this: a) earn an income; b) buy the things you need; c) buy the things you want; d) if you are lucky there is some cash left over to put into savings.

This is not "savings", though; this is merely a surplus after needs and wants are satisfied. Be deliberate with your savings.

Set a budget of how much of each pay packet you will deliberately save and siphon this money off to a separate account.

It may be $50, $200, $500 of each pay that is deliberately put aside. Then spend the remaining money on the things you need and want.

However, still ensure you have a small surplus to give you some wriggle room with your cash flow. Deliberate saving will achieve real results.

4. Know what your next investment will be

About 27% of Australians say they did not invest as much as they had hoped in 2016.

I find that when people know what their next investment will be, it incentivises them to save more to make it happen.

Understanding what deposit you need for an investment property or how much you wish to add to your share/bond portfolio is a good way to be deliberate with your savings and investing.

5. Find someone else to be accountable to

There is a problem with setting goals if no one else knows about them. If you don't achieve them then there is no one to answer to but yourself.

Having a mentor or adviser can be the difference between achieving your goals or not.

Accountability is best when you can meet face-to-face with someone to review your goals. A good adviser will book their next review with their client six months in advance.

If your mentor or adviser does not do this, find a new one!

Implementing this five-point plan will help you avoid another year when you feel you should have, or could have, done something to help bring your financial and lifestyle goals a step closer.

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