New year, new you? With the right money resolutions and a framework in place, that could well be true.
The new year is a fabulous chance to make a fresh start – including for your finances.
One of the easiest ways to get and keep your finances in order is to be ‘sassy’.
This is a simple 5-step framework that Julia Newbould and I developed for our book, The Joy of Money:
- Spending – assess your current spending and create a conscious cashflow plan
- Assets and liabilities – assess your net wealth and create your target
- Structure – create purposeful accounts and automate
- Set rules and define triggers
- Yearly review and weekly check-ins
Committing to the sassy framework is a great way to commit to your new year money resolutions.
Here’s how to be ‘sassy’
It is about knowing how much you earn and how much you burn.
Start by assessing your current spending. Download ASIC Smart Money Budget Planner spreadsheet and enter in your take-home income and your expenses. Use your credit card and bank account transactions as a start. It should only take you about 15 minutes to do this.
Now you need to ask this: What can I do to improve the way I spend money?
Look for the ‘chunky’ money. Worry less about smaller things like your morning coffee. It really doesn’t add up to that much. Instead, look for the biggest ticket items – where does most of your money go?
Then, you’re ready to create your future plan. Back to the Smart Money Budget Planner. This time, you are going to use it to create your plan for the future.
Start with spending: where can you stop spending? Where can you find alternative ways to access things with little or no expense?
Also think about income. What are you earning? What’s your income plan? What are your opportunities to negotiate a better income?
Assets & Liabilities
This is about identifying your current assets (what you own) and debts (what you owe). Write it all down.
Now, create a target plan.
What do you want your asset position to look like in 10/5/2/1 years? Write down your target for your assets and your liabilities.
Ask yourself: what changes will you commit to so that you have the best chance of achieving these goals?
This is about setting yourself up for the best chance of success. Set up four purposeful accounts:
- Fun money
- Savings buffer
- Savings for “future you”.
And then automate.
- Set up direct credits to each account each pay cycle.
- And for savings “paying yourself first” – most people spend first, then save what’s left. Savvy savers flip that: save first, then spend what’s left.
Here are some examples of non-negotiable money rules that you might like to try:
- Any expenditure from the ‘fun’ account needs to be planned at least 30 days in advance
- It’s okay to spend money in the ‘fun’ account without consulting with your partner
- Any spend of $x or more needs to be discussed
- Credit card debt is a no-go zone. Card balances are repaid in full every month, no exceptions.
Do a full and thorough yearly review. Don’t be on autopilot. Make it part of your new year’s money resolutions.
As yourself these questions:
- What am I (are we) most proud of having achieved with our money management in the last year?
- What’s working well that I (we) want to keep?
- What opportunities are there for me (us) to improve?
And along the way, have regular, quick weekly check-ins to make sure you’re on track.
Importantly, these check-ins are about your life – your values, priorities and goals – and not just about money. Because at the end of the day, the aim of good money management is to give yourself the best chance of achieving your dreams and enjoying a great life.