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How to achieve your financial goals in 2013

We are officially in 2013, dear readers!


And this year, you have the chance to get it all right.


You can, and you will, do what needs to be done, to completely streamline your personal finances. And remember, if you do these few very crucial things right now, you are more likely to succeed than if you say 'I'll do this later'.


So let's see what these things are, and say this out loud to yourself as you read them!


RESOLUTION #1 : I WILL KNOW MY GOAL AMOUNTS, AND ACHIEVE THEM !


Knowledge is Power. Once you 'know', you can 'do'.


If you want to retire, start figuring out when. Say to yourself 'I want to retire in __ years, I want to live a lifestyle of Rs. _________ per month' and start working towards it!


Remember to keep in mind inflation.


If something costs Rs. 10,000 today, and we assume 8% inflation per year, then in 10 years it will cost Rs. 21,589. This means that simply to keep pace with inflation your money must earn 8% return, wherever it is invested. And if you want to do more than just keep pace, you must earn more than 8% per annum over the long term.


Remember, your goals have got to be S.M.A.R.T - Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic, Time Bound!


Your Money Mantra: 'I will have S.M.A.R.T financial goals!'


RESOLUTION #2 : I WILL INCREASE MY SAVINGS EVERY MONTH!


The best way to figure out how much more you can save every month, is to look at your budgets of the past 6 months. But there might be a problem. Most of us don't keep budgets.


Here's a little tip: look at your bank statements of the last 6 months - they won't tell you everything but they will show you broadly what your spending habits have been like, and if you have been using your credit or debit card more than cash, then you will have a clearer picture.


Use very simple categories - groceries, utilities bills, travel & conveyance, medical, house & vehicle maintenance, shopping, insurance premiums (includes life, non-life, vehicle and any other insurance you have, take the per annum premium and divide by 12), eating out & entertainment, and 1 or 2 other categories if you need them.


You might find that you are spending more on medical expenses than you thought, or more on entertainment and eating out. The best way to save money is cut down on unnecessary expenses. Even if you save Rs. 3,000 per month and invest it, over 30 years you can earn Rs. 2.07 crores (assuming 15% return per year).


Your Money Mantra: 'I will save Rs. ____ more every month!'


RESOLUTION #3 : I WILL MAKE MY DAY TO DAY FINANCES EASIER!


The trick to making things easier is just to get organized once. Once is all it takes to get everything set up, and then you can sit back and relax.
So, sit down right now, and make a list of the bills you are paying. From electricity to gas to family cell phone bills, you can have a combined list, and if you have the option of making it an online payment (direct debit), do so. You can still check your bills every month when you receive them, but you save yourself the hassle of remembering to write cheques, standing in queues, and having to take hours off work to do it.


Your Money Mantra: 'I will get more organized today!'


RESOLUTION #4 : I WILL MAXIMIZE MY TAX SAVINGS!


At PersonalFN we constantly write on how you should prudently engage in effective tax planning, which can help you to save tax optimally. But for you to save tax optimally and prudently, it is imperative that you start with the tax planning activity right from the beginning of the financial year, rather than towards the end. The tax saved can be invested towards achievement of your crucial goals such as children education, their marriage, your retirement and your other financial goals.


Your Money Mantra: ‘This year I will save tax prudently to obtain effective and optimal benefit in the long run!'


RESOLUTION # 5 : I WILL HIRE A FINANCIAL EXPERT TO PLAN MY FINANCES !


Let's face it. If you want your car serviced, you're going to go to a service center you trust. If you have a medical concern, you'll go to the best doctor you can find. Self-service only works sometimes on matters which do not require expert opinion. But in certain matters where you need to obtain expert opinion; you must! You must hire a financial planner to plan your finances. The clarity, the benefits, and the feeling of control over your financial life will make you wonder why you never did this before!


Your Money Mantra: 'I will hire a financial expert right now!'


These 5 money mantras are short, easy and very, powerful.


Don't wait. Don't think 'I'll do this tomorrow', because procrastination can derail the objective of putting your finances right. So you need to do it now - do it today!


Remember the wise words of George Bernard Shaw: 'People who say it cannot be done are interrupting those who are doing it.'


PersonalFN is a Mumbai based Financial Planning and Mutual Fund Research Firm

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