Financial planning can be a little daunting, so we’ve broken it down into 12 monthly tasks. Focus on completing one task a month to keep your financial planning and management on track in 2019.
January: Know your financial status - analyse your assets, income, debt and expenses and draw up a budgetStart off the year by working out exactly what you’re worth, what you owe, and how you plan to spend 2019’s income.
List all your assets such as your house and car and your liabilities or debts like your home loan and credit card balances. Don’t forget about future liabilities like home maintenance or a wedding – the sooner you can plan for these the better, so remember to include them in your budget.
Then review your 2018 budget – did you have any unplanned expenses, where did you over or underspend – and use this as a guide to draw up a 2019 budget. Look for ways to save where you can but be realistic.
Lastly, spend some time on your income. Perhaps you can increase it by generating additional income or maybe family members can assist and contribute financially?
Top tip: Our savings blogs have great tips on how to save money, plus don’t miss this article on how to reduce your water and electricity bill.
February: File it rightHow do you file your financial documents – are all your bank statements online or in paper form? Where are your insurance policies and your will kept?
Spend February setting up or revising your filing system so that all your financial documents are stored together. This way you’ll know where to find your documents, and where to file accounts, invoices, tax returns and salary advice slips when they arrive.
You can do this digitally or follow the paper route – but remember to back up digital files and file papers in a safe place.
March: Revisit or set up your savings and investing plansFirst check on your emergency savings. Make sure you have enough – experts recommend anything from 3 to 6 months’ salary – and that the funds are easily accessible, such as in a savings account rather than a fixed deposit.
Think about your 2019 savings goals. Maybe you are saving for a new car or end of year holiday? Then it’s time to plan for the longer term – do you want a sabbatical in the next few years that you need to fund, perhaps you want to take a course to learn a new skill or set up your own business. And finally, you will need to save for your retirement years.
April: Visit your bankTake a trip to your bank and chat to a customer consultant or personal banker about your accounts, what services they offer customers and any new products or special offers. Ask how you can reduce your bank charges, how you can pay off loans sooner or get a special interest rate and enquire if you could fix an interest rate if you need to. Also make sure you don’t have two or more accounts for the same thing – that just means extra charges!
And ask your bank what they recommend to make your account secure, tips on how to avoid being scammed and how you can reduce the risk of cybercrime.
May: Know your rewardsRewards are great if you use them, a waste of money if you don’t. Spend this month getting to know what reward programmes you are automatically part of, which programmes if any you pay for, and how they work.
June: Revisit your budgetThe middle of the year is a good time to do a quick budget review to see if you’re on track with your 2019 numbers. It is winter, so electricity might be a bit higher this month – a good reminder that some expenses are seasonal and higher in some months than others.
July: Tax timeYou’ll start hearing more from SARS in the middle of the year as they remind us to submit our returns and pay our taxes. You’ll need your IRP certificates from your employers, tax certificates for any retirement annuities and medical aid deductions, and a record of any medical expenses not paid by medical aid. Remember that dividends and interest are taxable (unless you’re invested in a tax-free savings account) so your investment company should also send you a tax certificate. You can chat to your tax consultant, financial advisor or visit SARS with any tax queries.
August: InsuranceSpend August reviewing and updating your insurance. Start with your short-term insurance and check that all your assets are insured – take photos and keep any proof of ownership details such as invoices in your insurance file. Also check the amount insured on assets such as your car to see if they are insured at market value or if they are over or under-insured. And check on your excess amounts – if you can cover a higher excess with your emergency funds you may be able to reduce your premium.
Your life insurance, disability insurance, dread disease and income protection also need an annual review. Do you have enough cover, have your circumstances changed – did you get married, have a baby, take a new job or get a salary increase? It’s a good idea to consider increasing your sum assured when your salary increases to make sure you have enough cover.
Finally take a look at your funeral cover – is it enough, are the beneficiary details up to date and do they know how the policy works?
September: Revise or draw up your willDying without a valid will can cause a lot of delays for your heirs who can sometimes wait years to receive your assets. And if your children are under the age of 18 their inheritance will be paid into the Guardian’s Fund, which limits the use of funds until they turn 18. So, make sure your will is valid and updated and draw up a will if you don’t have one. Let your family and heirs know where the will is kept so they can access it in the event of your death and who the executor is. Because the will is sometimes read after the funeral, leave your family a list of wishes to look at immediately after your death including what kind of funeral you would prefer and details of funeral policies.
October: Be cyber safeReceiving, storing and sending information online lessens the amount of paper and filing – but there are risks. Cybercriminals are waiting to take your hard-earned money and use your identity to commit fraud. Make sure you are well protected online in October – check your credit record, change or update your financial passwords and sign-ins such as your internet or app banking logins, and delete accounts you no longer use. Update your antivirus software – ask your service provider to recommend software or use a well-known programme such as Kaspersky or Norton and protect your confidential files with passwords or encryption.
November: Medical aidYour medical aid should have sent you information on their 2020 plans, so you can choose a plan that suits your family’s medical needs and your budget. Look at your medical costs – those covered and those not covered by medical aid – for the past few years to see what kind of benefits you may need. Compare these to the benefits the plans offer, make your selection and let your medical aid know.
December: Read and reviewWell done! You’ve done so much work in the year on your finances, why not read a good finance-related book and boost your financial knowledge? Then spend some time doing a quick review of the year and make some notes for your 2020 budget.