Nothing calls for a better time to get organised than this Chinese New Year.
Spring cleaning is a quintessential part of Chinese New Year, and just like your home, why not also spruce up your finances this festive season?
As a savvy investor, spring cleaning your finances is a great way to understand your current financial situation and what you need to do to reach your financial goals.
Ready to begin? Below are ways to help you get started.
Table of Contents
- Prune Your Credit Cards
- Cancel Unwanted Subscriptions
- Catch Up On Late Payments
- Take Stock of Your Financial Assets
- Review Your Loans
- Set Long-term Financial Goals
- Plan Your Budget For The Year
- Automate Your Personal Finances
Prune Your Credit Cards
Most credit card issuers don’t charge an annual fee for the first couple of years, but there will eventually come a day when you have to fork out money to pay for the charge. Unfortunately, this also means that you may end up paying annual fees for the underutilised cards that you’re holding onto.
Having multiple credit cards also makes it hard for you to keep track of your payment due dates. If you miss a payment cycle, you incur a late payment fee and interest on your outstanding balance. Because of these reasons, it’s best to prune any underused credit cards to avoid chalking up unnecessary fees.
Cancel Unwanted Subscriptions
Lurking on your bank statements are charges for subscriptions you can’t remember signing up for or realising you had. Subscription fees often go under the radar and are perceived as insignificant expenses.
That however, is far from the truth—these small monthly fees can add up and inflict substantial financial damage; subscription fees for multiple streaming services, apps or memberships may seem insignificant each month, but these numbers add up to a fairly large amount and drain your wallet over time.
Catch Up On Late Payments
The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is particularly relatable when it comes to dealing with late payments. As much as you want to avoid dealing with late payments, paying overdue bills is the first step in taking charge of your finances.
Start by creating a list of your debts, including the balance, due date and interest rate for each item. Then come up with a plan for how you’ll pay it off. To make things easier, try listing the payments that are due soon and prioritise any current or missed payments.
Take Stock of Your Financial Assets
Do you have a clear overview of your financial worth? It’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve saved and where your money is going, but taking inventory of your assets can help you make smarter financial decisions.
If you have multiple bank or investment accounts, consider consolidating them to make managing your money simpler and easier. The plus point of paring down the number of managed accounts is that you gain a handle on your finances with less effort and room for error.
Tip: Remember to include the amounts in your CPF or SRS accounts when tabulating your assets! While your CPF/SRS savings will remain untouched until you retire, the money saved in these accounts form a part of your retirement savings—amounts you can still tap on in your old age.
Review Your Loans
With interest rate hikes slowing, now might be a good time to review your existing loans and research about refinancing or repricing them. Doing this can help you secure a lower interest rate on your loans, leading to a lower monthly repayments and thousands of dollars potentially saved.
An important thing to note is that refinancing or repricing comes at a cost; the two fees typically involved are the legal and valuation fees, so remember to factor them in when making a decision!
Set Long-term Financial Goals
Your financial goals should be ‘SMART’:
These parameters form the basis of good financial goals and act as a guide to help you focus your efforts and use your time productively to achieve your goals. Plus, when goals are SMART, you’ll be more motivated to turn these aspirations into achievements!
For example, if you’d like to have $250K worth of investment portfolio by the time you reach 35, your SMART goal can be broken down into:
- My goal is to build a $250K investment portfolio by the age of 35. The portfolio will include stocks, bonds, cash and other liquid assets. (specific)
- To track my progress, I will monitor my investment balance quarterly. This is to make sure that I contribute sufficiently and stay on target. (measurable)
- To achieve a $250K portfolio by 35, I will save and invest 50% of my monthly salary (achievable)
- Building a $250K investment portfolio by 35 aligns with my long-term retirement goals. (relevant)
- I will achieve my goal by the time I turn 35 (time-bound)
The final version of the goal will look something like this:
I will build a $250K investment portfolio by 35 and will achieve this by saving and investing 50% of my salary.
Plan Your Budget For The Year
Planning your budget should be easier now that you have your goals set and a clearer picture of your financial assets.
A budget is the bedrock of good financial health, so reviewing it deserves a top spot on your spring cleaning list.
Here’s a quick guide on how to plan your budget:
- Track your spending to create a more realistic budget
- Separate fixed and variable expenses
- Factor in emergency funds for any unforeseen expenses
- Adopt the 50/30/20 rule where 50% of your after-tax income goes toward needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward savings
Tip: Use a financial planning calculator like a retirement calculator when setting up your budget. These calculators are designed to help you determine if you’re on track to meet your financial goals and provide insights that help you make better informed financial decisions.
Automate Your Personal Finances
Automate Your Savings and Bill Payments
Setting up automated bill payments is a great way to save yourself incurring late payment penalties. Couple this with automated transfers into a savings account, and you’ll find your savings growing quickly.
Tip: Automating your bills may cause you to overspend since you’ll be less likely to go through your statements. Similarly, you might forget to make adjustments as your goals or income change when automating your savings. That’s why when it comes to financial planning, it’s imperative to be in control of your expenses by using automation in conjunction with regular reviews and updates.
Automate Your Investments
Finally, consider automating your investing. Automating your investing is relatively easy these days and any brokerage platforms like Syfe allow users to automatically invest funds on a recurring basis, making it effortless to invest consistently while staying on top of your finances.