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New year, new finances? How to have better personal finances in 2020

Pandu W. Soeprapto
Pandu W. Soeprapto

Banker, part-time teacher, and at-any-other-time writer

Jakarta  /  Fri, January 10, 2020  /  08:45 am
New year, new finances? How to have better personal finances in 2020

Despite the uniqueness of every person’s financial condition, there are simple steps everyone can follow to make it easier to see more results: (Shutterstock/David Franklin)

Farewell 2019, thank you for all you did for me, and welcome 2020, may we have a strong, beneficial relationship.

The early days of a new year are my favorite time to sit back, relax and plan for healthier finances for the rest of the year. Despite the uniqueness of every person’s financial condition, there are simple steps everyone can follow to make it easier to see more results:

Review

Before striving for better financial health, one must first analyze our financial state in the prior year. Thus, take a moment out of your busy schedule and ask yourself these tough questions while everything is still fresh:

  • How much did you save?
  • How much did your investment grow?
  • Did you overspend? For what? Was it worthwhile?
  • Did your debt decrease? Or increase? Why?

Answer honestly; there’s no need for something as unproductive as denial because it is, after all, for your own wellbeing.

If satisfactory, take note of the things you did right and continue them. If not, list down what you did wrong or what prevented you from achieving your goals and do your best not to make the same mistakes again.

Read also: The balance sheet of life: Knowing the three phases of personal finance

Set goals and budget

After the review, make goals for 2020, but not just any goals. In my opinion, they should be specific, realistic and measurable.

For example, “I want to save a lot in 2020,” is not advisable to be written down as a goal, because the meaning of “a lot” differs from person to person and you would be unable to measure your progress. Instead, revise it to specifically state the amount you want to save, “I want to save Rp 24 million [US$1,722] in 2020”.

Similarly, do not choose a figure that is not realistic and when you clearly do not have the capacity to achieve it. All you are going to feel is immense pressure to obtain an unattainable objective.

The purpose of goals is to let you feel the pleasure of achieving results, which will make you motivated to challenge bigger goals in the future. Thus, think carefully of what you want to achieve and it should be specific, realistic and measurable.

Once the goals are finalized, make a monthly budget that takes your latest finances into account. This has helped me keep track of what I earned and, more importantly, spent, because people tend to forget what they used their money for and only remember when it is too late.

Effective usage of a budget will lead to increments in our savings and investments. Persevere; eventually, the goals will be within your grasp.

Increase income

This is easier said than done. But through experience, increasing your income every year is possible.

There are many paths you can take. One can work hard, go the extra mile and aim for a raise in your current job. Search for a new opportunity at a different company or create an additional source of income, like from dividends and interest. No matter how small, with time and diligence, your efforts will gradually bear fruit. That is why I could not stress more the importance of continuously investing in yourself to increase your worth in this highly competitive market.

Once succeeded, for me, it is fine to use a portion of the increment to reward your efforts. Afterward, revise your goal and budget because now, with a higher income, you have more flexibility to plan your finances for the better. Budgeting is not a one-time endeavor; your budget can be revised as many times as you want so that it represents your updated financial situation.

I would like to remind you that we are undoubtedly living in a society where almost everyone is showcasing images on social media of what seems to be a desirable lifestyle and feel pressure to do the same, or maybe beyond it.

However, as I mentioned in an earlier paragraph, everyone, including you, has their own unique circumstances. Therefore, one thing I like to add is: Do not compare yourself to others. Your progress is your own and mimicking others jeopardizes your priority, which could lead to unfavorable financial consequences.

Use these abundant images not as a source of comparison, but as motivation. All the best for your endeavor.

***

Pandu W. Soeprapto earned his bachelor’s degree from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and master’s from Monash University, Australia. He currently works as a credit analyst in corporate banking and has handled many financing projects in various sectors. Pandu is particularly passionate about teaching and writing. Find him on Instagram @pandu_wi_soe.

 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.