Financial resolutions for 2017


2017 is almost upon us and many people will set financial goals for themselves in 2017. These are some financial resolutions that I heard around the CompareHero office:

•    Pay off bad debt (credit cards)
•    Start paying off PTPTN loan
•    Steer clear away from impulse shopping
•    Start an inverse 52 week savings plan: saving RM 52 in week 1, RM 51 in week 2, down to RM 1 in week 52. This will save you RM 1,378 in a year!)
•    Increase monthly savings from 20% to 30% of monthly income

But the fate of New Year’s resolutions is worse than the survival rate of actresses in a horror movie. By February most of us have once again succumbed to the daily grind and have forgotten about our lofty aspirations for 2017. So here are 6 financial resolutions and how to make them stick!

Drop a few bad spending habits

At the very least try to stop some money suckers. They are easy to identify because they are the guilty pleasures that you know you spend money on. It could be gambling, but also as innocent as a daily Starbucks visit, or using taxi’s instead of public transportation all the time.

Get more insights about your financial situation

Try to learn more about where you stand financially. This could be tracking your expenses for a month to see what you are spending your hard-earned Ringgit on exactly. It could also be collecting data from all your accounts and loans and calculate your net worth. You could also reduce your interest costs and complexity by consolidating your loans into a single one. Or perhaps you want to figure out what your risk appetite and investment horizon is, and learn more about investing in stocks.

Commit to retirement
Regardless of your age, you should be doing more than just thinking about your retirement. Set aside a small amount in a separate account each month and make sure this money is off-limits. Resist the temptation to dip into the funds to pay for that much-needed holiday. Increase your EPF contributions back to 11% if you have opted for the lower 8% in 2016. Remember, the earlier you start, the larger your nesting egg will be by the time you hit 55, thanks to the wonder of compound interest.

Create that emergency fund
Although the chance of any accident or disaster happening to you is quite small, you can be pretty certain that within the next 10 years, you will experience some kind of calamity with financial ramifications. Make sure you don’t need to fall back to your parents, friends, retirement savings or the bank and build an emergency fund that can keep you afloat for at least three months.

Get out of debt / save more & start investing

If you have debt (outside your home loan), commit to paying it off as quickly as possible. Start with the smallest amount to create an early ‘victory’ but then focus on the ‘bad’ debt” the one with the highest interest rate. If you are debt free, try to save a little more each month. Once you have more savings than your emergency fund, consider how to make that money work for you through various investments.

Improve your credit score
Having a great credit score depends on good old boring credit management over an extended period of time. Add 12 months of great credit history to your CCRIS, CTOS scores by making prompt and full payment on all your bills, credit cards, personal loans, but also utility and phone bills. Next time you are applying for a credit card, personal loan or mortgage, you will be thanking me.

How to keep your resolutions


How best to keep yourself committed to these or other financial resolutions past January? Do 4 things:

• First, break your goals into smaller goals to ensure they look less insurmountable and easier to accomplish.
• Second, make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.
• Third, make them as public as possible, so that you lose face when you fail and create accountability in your mind.
• Fourth, create a reward (whole week guilt free Starbucks) and punishment (make a sizeable donation to a charity) to keep you incentivized to meet your goals. Make the reward and punishment also public, to ensure there is no way to get out of it.

Mark Reijman is co-founder and managing director of https://www.comparehero.my/dedicated to increasing financial literacy and to help you save time and money by comparing all credit cards, loans and broadband plans in Malaysia. CompareHero.my is hiring a new (senior) writer. Reach out to mark@comparehero.my
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