Setting Clear Goals: FINANCIAL RESOLUTIONS 2016
It’s that time of year when many of us are feeling the holiday bloat from all the festive cheer we partook over the past month and are now considering our new year’s resolutions. While many of us are adding “lose weight,” “eat healthier” or “get to the gym four times a week,” we often forget that we’ve made these resolutions in the past, and were lucky if we stuck to them for more than a month. With 2016 quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to take a look at our spending habits over the past year to assess where we are financially, and set some clear goals or money resolutions for the new year. As some goals, such as planning your retirement may affect your loved ones, it would be best to sit down with your family to discuss them. Not only will your family be aware of your goals, but they can acts as accountability partners if you fall off track. Here is a list of some resolutions that you might want to add to your list—also, eating healthier is always a good resolution.
- Create a new budget
You and your family may have experienced a significant change in 2015, such as a new baby, purchasing your first home, or helping your child through her first year at university. Playing the guessing game can be tough as we might not know how things will play out until several months have passed, but try your best to sit down with a pen and paper and write out your expenses in as great detail as possible. Although it’s important to revisit your budget annually, try to visit it quarterly as this might help you adjust expenditures accordingly.
- Take advantage of TFSA and RRSP contribution room
If you haven’t maxed out your contributions in the past and have some money kicking around, why not place it in a TFSA or RRSP. Maybe you’ve landed a new job or received a promotion—and are receiving a higher income than last year. A smart way to ensure that money gets set aside is to set up preauthorized transfers to your TFSA and RRSP. You’ll thank yourself when tax time rolls around in 2017 and also feel accomplished knowing you’ve contributed to your nest egg or retirement.
- Reevaluate your mortgage situation
Will your mortgage term be coming to an end before you have your house paid off? If you have three years left on your amortization, but paying off your home won’t be possible for another four years, you might want to consider refinancing options. Chances are mortgage rates are not going to get any lower than they are now, and if your term is up in four years, who knows how high the interest rates will be. Reassess your situation, take advantage of low lending rates and breathe a sigh of relief knowing you’re making the most out of one of your biggest investments—your home.
- Teach your kids about budgeting
Whether you have a son in middle school or a daughter in university, it’s never too early to teach your child about the importance of budgeting. Take some time to sit down with your young one to discuss his or her allowance. If they’ve been itching to get that bike that Santa didn’t leave in their stocking, you can teach them how to put away a portion of their allowance, birthday money, or money from their paper route to buy that bike. If your child wants a bike by June, he would have five months to save for it. On top of lunch money, entertainment, a long-term savings account and even donations (we should teach our kids about philanthropy), figure out what is left every month/week and how much of it needs to go to the bike. For those of us with older kids off at university, check in to discuss their plans after post-secondary, as well as how much debt has been accumulated. Depending on the financial institution and repayment terms, help your child prepare for the next step after graduation. If your child is lucky enough to land a job after he or she graduates and if you’re planning on helping him/her with their payments, discuss a fair amount that needs to go directly to paying their debt.
- Purchase an investment property
If you’ve been considering buying a rental property, early 2016 would be a fantastic time to do so. With rock-bottom lending rates that will undoubtedly rise in the near future, purchasing a multi-dwelling house is something you might want to consider. Investing rental in Toronto or the GTA can be a source of residual income with the population of the GTA rising with young professionals. If you have any questions, talk to a real estate investment expert who will point you in the right direction. Also, make sure you hire a property manager to ensure your rental home is in good hands.
- Hey, Big Saver!
Some people are great at saving and before they know it, they have a piggy bank that’s bursting at the seams. If you find yourself maxing out your RRSP and TFSA contributions, and are satisfied with your investments, why not plan a paradise getaway or donate to your favourite cause. Treating yourself now and then never hurts, however, using your money toward meaningful experiences with your loved ones will create memories that are priceless.
The Priority Pyramid
Remember that when making a financial plan it’s wise to follow a priority pyramid to help employ the best strategies to successfully complete Operation: Financial Resolutions 2016.