Personal finance tips for 2017

The world of business is moving faster than ever with incredible events occurring on scales no one could predict. Business owners have more than enough to deal with, being able to manage the success of their companies, the lives of their employees and the future of what will remain. Tech companies, in particular, cannot go stagnant, when titans of the industries are marching forward. Apple is producing new phones, focusing in Apple Watches; Tesla is bringing out new models and designs all the time for their electric cars. If the bigger companies are doing this, you as a business owner need to rethink your strategies, too. But sometimes it’s not enough to focus only on business. You need to think personal, first. As you enter 2017, let’s consider some ways you can make the best personal finance decisions.

Savings

The most important thing you can do with your money is retain it. The easiest way to begin doing that is with savings account. Of course, this might be difficult if you’re running your own business. Expenses seem never ending and profits might only allow you to live from hand-to-mouth, month to month. How then can you save?

Taking this into account, Money Crashers note:

“[You] need to create [a budget that includes room for saving], even if you can only save a tiny amount from each paycheck. Use financial software or just a pencil and paper to list all your income, all your fixed expenses (such as your rent or mortgage and car payment), and your fluctuating expenses (such as groceries and discretionary spending). You may need to track your spending for a few weeks to find places to cut spending so you can build your savings.”

Savings accounts work because you leave them alone. Compound interest is key here, which is known as “interest on interest”. This is where an interest on your initial savings amounts itself gets interest the following financial period. In this way, you can build up more money than what you already had by simply leaving it alone. Investopedia notes the positives of compound interest working on your money.

“The magic of compounding can work to your advantage when it comes to your investments, and can be a potent factor in wealth creation.  Exponential growth from compounding interest is also important in mitigating wealth-eroding factors, like rises in the cost of living, inflation and reduction of purchasing power.”

But in order to have money that you can save, you need a budget.  

Budgeting

Any decisions about your personal finance begin with information, obtained primarily through working out a budget. As My Money Coach notes:

“Creating this spending plan allows you to determine in advance whether you will have enough money to do the things you need to do or would like to do. What is budgeting? It is an important planning and forecasting process to help you manage your money by balancing your expenses with your income. If you don’t have enough money to do everything you would like to do, then you can use this planning process to prioritize your spending and focus your money on the things that are most important to you.”

Planning is everything. This means you are able to put money where you’d like it to go, ideally into places that can help build wealth. Budgeting is about acquiring information. But once you have that information, you still need to do the best you can.

Create proper goals

There’s no use saying you’re going to save a million rand by the end of year, when that is simply not possible. You know having savings is important, you’ve worked out you’ll make a specific amount thanks to your budget, but you can’t have unrealistic goals. Lowering your expectations, but trying to do the best you can, should be your motto. This means not hoping to make a million rand from, say, investing in stock – instead, focus on security and growth. As noted, a savings account is highly beneficial and easy to start. Simply leave your money alone.

To get active with any money you have, you can focus on investment but rather focus on secure stocks. For example, unit trusts or government retail bonds are safer than focusing on public companies, which have no guarantees of growth. Yes, corporations might mean enormous amounts but those are rare occasions and you’re not likely to be an early investor in the next Facebook. Play it safe in these turbulent times, especially as a business person. It’s not just your future that is under threat, after all, but your employees too.

One easy way to help you, once you have proper goals in place, is to focus on automation tools. As Forbes notes in their list of personal finance secrets from experts: “No matter what, automating will definitely help you stay on track with your savings goals. It truly is one of the quickest and easiest ways to save on a continual basis. However, you do need a way to keep track of what’s automated so you’re still in control.”

By taking these steps, you can make good decisions with your money. What matters is doing the best you can in these turbulent times. Though it will be hard, it is still necessary.