With the year 2017’s entry, we find ourselves pondering upon what we attained in 2016 and, more importantly, what we need to do in 2017 in preparation for the years ahead of us. Breaking it down into its simplest ideas, our efforts must be toward achieving three essential things: Becoming healthier, wiser and wealthier. The steps needed to build our wealth are as follows:
Separate insurance from investment
Majority of people often put off planning their tax and investment requirements until the last few weeks of the financial year. And usually, they try to simplify their difficult problems by getting insurance. They may end up saving on their taxes; however, they can benefit more from wiser investing. Besides, the common endowment insurance policy provides minimal income and will provide the highest potential for creating enduring wealth. Moreover, the death benefits you get from insurance are not sufficient to address long-term financial needs of your dependents. The better solution is to separate your investment needs from your insurance.
Engage in monthly Investing
You need not equate Investing with getting insurance. Financial experts generally believe that the most effective way to create long-term wealth is through investing in equity, mutual funds, gold, real estate and small savings accounts, such as PPF and Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme. It does not matter how big or small the amount involved or what the investing objective, engage in monthly investing. If you have a couple of thousand rupees or more to invest monthly, do it as early as you can. For instance, invest Rs 4,500 in a mutual fund Systematic Investment Plan which will grow 10% yearly for 30 years, and develop a corpus of Rs 1.02 crore. However, with only five years left in your life to achieve the same goal, your monthly investment would be Rs 7,500 – or Rs 13,500 with 10 years left. This is all due to the effect of compounding interest rate.
Get term insurance and also ensure dependents
For those with dependent family members, consider getting life-term insurance coverage in the amount of 10-20 times your present income per year. Less than that figure, for example, an endowment plan, may not cover your dependents’ financial requirements. Term plans are quite inexpensive and offer many additional benefits, such as premium return and month income. Likewise, acquire a health cover for every one of your family members. This will enable you to save significantly the money you will have to shell out from your pocket in case of medical emergency.
Do tax planning
Avoid going into panic mode at the end of the year, especially when a big TDS occurs in March. Paying tax is a one-year process and everyone has a whole year to figure out what one earned and what to pay. Hence, one needs to maximize the use of that time to determine the best ways to save tax. Section 80 (C) of the tax code, equity-linked saving plans and public provident fund can bring higher long-term benefits compared to insurance plans. Likewise, you can save more tax if you get health insurance for you and your dependent parents. Make sure that your figures for home-acquisition loan principal and interest repayments or rentals paid are accurate. In case you are fall short of exemption limits, you need to determine and invest in a tax-reducing instrument as early as possible. You can attain efficiency on FDs by not going above the interest earnings limit. Above that limit, invest in debt mutual funds for tax efficiency and bigger income.
Avail of digital payments
Digital payment has more advantages than using cash. Demonetization compels us even more to go digital, but be aware of online scams and fraud. Automating payment allows you to do the following: pay your credit card, e-wallet or netbanking bills without using cash, allowing you to earn cashbacks and reward points. Moreover, issue ECS instructions for paying your insurance premiums and EMIs. And as more people are now doing, use your debit card for any transaction. Even day-to-day purchases such as groceries and medicines should be done through e-commerce which already utilizes numerous apps and websites. The future is now here in the growing utilization of paperless financial products. The convenience of using of digital bank accounts and digital wallets should encourage you and people around you to shift to this financial format.
What does 2017 hold for us all? With the new administration in place, many Americans are figuring out ways to improve their finances and setting goals for the current year. The fact is that many of these people will fall short of their financial objectives and some will not even get moving at all, neglecting their financial well-being altogether. Start enhancing your financial health in 2017 with these 12 effective tips. Take a good look at what these expert educators, who educate experts to teach other experts and who deal with numerous financial advisors, have to share in order to raise your 2017 financial planning to a higher level. Your journey to building financial security begins with the first important step which is to learn the essential principles.
Tip # 1- Increase Your Retirement Savings
“Here are three effective steps to increase your retirement savings. First, put savings on an automatic income-withdrawal scheme, such as salary deferrals to 401(k) plans, automatic monthly payments from your checking account and amortizing a mortgage. Second, make full use of tax-friendly retirement schemes like IRAs and Roth IRAs. Third, forget this money!”
Tip # 2 – Revise Your Investment Allocations
“Considering the fresh increase in equity values, long-term investing, especially for retirement portfolios, performs much better if the stock allocation is reverted to the target allocation regularly. In short, with higher equity values at hand, the wise move is to reduce the equity load and increase the bond share.”
Tip # 3 – Do not Neglect Your Estate Plan
“A complete financial planning strategy must include estate planning as well as a family emergency program. Savings accounts, in particular, are often set primarily for emergencies. Most experts recommend a six-month compensation coverage in a liquid savings account. How do you deal with premature-death planning? Do you have the assets to take cover funeral expenses and liquidity to sustain family expenses? You must consider the targeted time frame of such expenses to determine the immediate amount needed as well as the amount that is liquid. Personal saving accounts, employee incentives and life insurance proceeds may serve to address family needs. These funds, however, must be properly set up. The individual’s will, private asset titling and inheritance provisions should be evaluated to ascertain that family needs fall within the available amount of funds and that such funds are made available when needed.”
Tip # 4 – Opt for Long-Term Investment
“Investing is a marathon, not a sprint. Build an investment plan and let the market take care of itself; as long as you stick with your plan, you will reach your goal. Historical figures from way back in 1926 to the present show that a diversified portfolio of big capitalization stocks earned an average of 10%, compounded annually. Government and corporate bonds have given about 6%. Woody Allen famously said that 80% of success is showing up. To succeed likewise in stock investment requires showing up and persevering with your original long-term goals.”
Tip # 5 – Capital Ownership is Crucial
“Aim for capital ownership. Until you choose to be taxed, appreciation is not taxed. You have control of the situation. Aside from that, your income is preferentially taxed at rates that apply for long-term capital gains. Moreover, the income from capital qualified dividends and long-term capital gains are likewise taxed preferentially. When you can already afford to be remunerated with stock instead of plain income, you stand to get more long-term benefits. Generally, what matters is not the amount paid on your investment but how you are paid.”
Tip # 6 – Take Control of Your Debt
“Only by having an effective debt management strategy can you ultimately cut the vicious cycle of indebtedness and release your potential for building wealth. An effective debt management requires prudently prioritizing your most expensive debt first, such as credit card statements, then personal debts, then deal with education loans and, next, housing loans. Nevertheless, managing debt equally involves staying away from getting another loan and finding ways to reduce spending or, at least, spending more wisely. For example, you will be surprised at how much you will save if you purchased a coffee machine instead of buying coffee daily.”
Tip # 7 – Discuss Money Maters with People Close to You
“Usually, people keep their loved ones in the dark regarding their financial situation, producing stress in their relationships. Dealing with financial issues and aspirations together with your partner will bring so many benefits. Spend time to formulate a common vision of what you want to achieve in the future. For parents, invest time to educate your children about handling money. Whether we teach them directly or not, children eventually pick up attitudes regarding the value of money. Hence, be careful how you talk to your children regarding money. Even a little pep talk will do a great deal toward teaching them good money values.”
Tip # 8 – Evaluate Insurance Coverages
“Regularly check the coverages in your insurance policy to make sure that they remain consistent with your original goals and purposes. Include all your policies, such as health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, disability insurance and home mortgage insurance. Also consider getting some additional coverage through an umbrella policy. Although insurance may not be as exciting a subject as other financial assets, it can be a valuable tool for preparing for a secure future. With respect to life insurance, always update your designated beneficiaries and values of coverage during important life events.”
Tip # 9 – Remember Your Children’s Welfare
“Plan out a way, no matter how small, to make 2017 a launching pad for your children’s financial benefit 10 to 12 years henceforth. For example, open a fund in a 529 account for a college education or the new 529 ABLE accounts for disabled children. Or, it could be a trust or a funding for a small investment account to serve as a security fund when they finish college. Such seemingly insignificant acts in the present can turn out to be lifesavers for your children once they reach adulthood. It sure beats having to keep them under your roof when they reach 30.”
Tip # 10 – Re-Financing Education
“Some people end up in a situation where they are still amortizing their college loans while trying to set aside some savings for their children. It might be the opportune time to consolidate or refinance your educational loans. Expect interest rates to rise even more this 2017 and for direct loans to vary wildly. Look for a much lower interest rate today. Consolidated loans can be accepted by repayment plans such as PAYE and REPAYE. Such plans can be appropriate for your income and, thus, help you manage payments in your early-career years. Moreover, consider your future and begin saving in 529 plans; but make sure that you become selective when it comes to 529 plans as not all of them offer the same benefits. Those plans offered in Nevada and Ohio are quite popular; but carefully check your own state’s version of the plan to find out your eligibility to avail of some special income-tax refunds or rebates.”
Tip # 11 – Make Full Use of Flexible Spending Accounts
“Maximize the use of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) offered by your company for out-of-pocket medical expenses and dependent medical expenses. The maximum FSA contribution for this year is $5,000 for dependent care FSA and $2,600 for healthcare FSA. You can get significant tax savings because monies deferred into FSAs are tax-free — whether federal, state, local or FICA. Under the proper conditions, any person may save several hundreds of dollars yearly in tax savings by contributing to FSA at maximum levels. But do not forget that there is a use-it-or-lose-it proviso in FSAs. Whatever monies you have that remain unused at yearend will be forfeited. It is crucial for you to carefully compute the yearly contributions.”
Tip # 12 – Formulate A Retirement Risk Management Plan
“Determining retirement income is not the same as saving and building up wealth for your future retirement. Firstly, the risks vary. Retirees must have a plan to address market fluctuations, their undetermined longevity and other various spending variable, for instance, a prolonged health care. Using only investments or insurance for planning is not the best method to build a plan to address various risks. Take time to begin educating yourself about retirement income to formulate a comprehensive and financially efficient strategy for handling all possible retirement risks.”
There are several crucial principles you need to know to achieve a successful financial year. Planning gives you enabling power; so, start planning. Set your savings and investment strategy on autopilot as much as possible. Regularly review your vision for your financial future. Evaluate your emergency fund, insurance coverages and your investments in 2017, to keep them consistent with your objectives.
Before December comes to an end, most people commonly write down their resolutions for the New Year. And for countless individuals, one of their goals is to "save money". Easier written than done; because in spite of the good intentions, a big majority of these optimistic people fail by the second month of the year and their savings accounts remain stagnant (if not depleted) and their spending fly out of the window.
There must be an effective way to succeed in this most challenging mission. Here are 10 suggestions to help you finally hack it.
1. Set a specific savings objective
Hit the ground this New Year running – the better to burn those holiday calories away -- with a specific savings objective for 2017. Make sure the goal you set is quantifiable, attainable, realistic and suitable. Avoid being too optimistic and setting an unrealistic savings objective, which will increase your chances of not achieving your goal.
A sensible objective for saving requires having a definite item to buy or a specific figure you can realistically attain within the year. The whole process will need enough self-control and some sacrifices with regard to spending if you hope to reach your goal. Setting a very high target may only frustrate you in the end.
The next vital step is to get a friend or relative to help you achieve your goal; or, print out your objective and put it in a prominent place to remind yourself constantly – the PC or smartphone wallpaper would be a good place.
2. Carefully select a savings account
Be discerning about where you put your savings. Savings accounts offer different features and benefits, whether you talk about fees, interests or minimum balances. It is best to conduct an assessment and select the most suitable account. Also, be mindful of other charges, such as ATM fees and monthly service charges.
Although the interest rate may appear small to you, it can accumulate before you realize it. The thing to remember is that even tiny amounts will come in handy when you have a definite amount to attain. Also visit the websites of banks with online services as some of them offer higher interest rates on savings accounts.
3. Avail of an automatic saving scheme
The common assumption is that people lack the self-discipline to put aside a part of their monthly income for a savings account. The only solution is to go automatic by contributing directly to your account each month. Many banks can provide free services to transfer a definite amount of money from your checking account to your savings account monthly.
You may also request your HR department to deposit directly a portion of your paycheck into a savings account each month.
4. Set up an emergency fund
Your savings account can also serve as a source of money for a rainy day; but if you can take the challenge on a higher level, you can also set up a fund devoted only for emergency purposes. Unless you get into an emergency situation and you are forced to use your savings account, the primary purpose for a savings account is to cover major purchases, such as advances for a car or a house purchase. Hence, in case you get laid off from your job or need medical attention, your emergency fund will come to your aid without you having to give up your original goal of buying a car or a house.
Ordinarily, an emergency fund should be sufficient to pay for your expenses for a period of four to seven months. Financial advisers suggest beginning with a relatively small goal – say, $1,000 -- and slowly increase your target.
5. Check your monthly expenses regularly
You need to begin a thorough monitoring of your monthly expenses. That means writing down your monthly expenses and every purchase to the last cent. This will tell you exactly where your money goes and in which areas you are spending above your budget. Consequently, you can have greater control of your money, allowing you to gain a better perspective of your spending habits so you can make a more suitable budget you can follow.
It might come as a surprise to you, for instance, that you shell out an inordinate amount of money on coffee weekly. Knowing that, you can decide to reduce your coffee intake each week and put whatever you save into your savings account.
6. Set your budget
When you have a clear idea of how you spend your money, you can set a realistic budget. While budgeting may appear to be a hit-or-miss process at the start, it will eventually become a more defined and accurate process once you have finally succeeded in cutting away your undisciplined spending habits.
Remember, there is no need to stop spending for entertainment or certain perks; however, your priority is to settle your bills promptly until you achieve your goal for saving. The main purpose for a budget is to compel you to spend within your income limit in order to enhance your savings.
7. Shop more wisely
Every time you shop, be more discriminating. Earn more points by applying for loyalty programs at the shops, join a warehouse club and purchase wholesale as much as you can, use discount coupons and shop whenever there are bargains deals or knockdown sales.
Use online shopping to your advantage by canvassing comparative prices on websites and buy according to whichever is the best offer. Buy an item not because an item is merely discounted; the best deal is one that has the greatest advantage for you in terms of quality, price and other features.
8. Use apps to your advantage
Practically everything now comes with an app that makes it very convenient to acquire or avail of, whether grabbing a taxi or chatting with pals. Make good use of the technology to help you save more money.
Some apps can help you in the budgeting process, some to help you locate the best buys in your community, as well as some to let you sell your used items. Monetize all the unused appliances and stuff in your home through these apps and make your savings grow.
9. Use a flexible spending account (FSA)
Contemplate applying for a flexible spending account in your company. Some employers provide FSAs as a benefits privilege for their employees which allows you to save money on health-care expenses not covered by insurance, as well as deductibles and joint-payments.
When you have joined such a program, decide on what amount to contribute for the year. The amount will be deducted from your paycheck eventually, minus income tax. Under the program, you can take out money from the account to cover for specific allowable medical expenses, which are effectively discounted due to your tax savings. Make sure you avail of the whole amount within the year covered.
10. Monitor your progress … and when you achieve your goal, reward yourself!
In order to succeed in the budgeting process, know where you are exactly each week in your finances. Set up a time for a "money date" when you can sit down each Sunday and assess expenses to make sure you are within the set budget. In case you find yourself off the track (whether you overspent or you failed to put away even a cent from your salary), get back on track. You cannot win all battles; but aim to win the war.
Nevertheless, once you achieve your savings goals, strike up a party and reward yourself (without overspending, of course)! Aim for the middle road in your savings strategy; that means you can still shop and spend but, this time, more responsibly.
Sparks Corporation welcomes you to a promising world of wealth-building opportunities. As a leading provider of wealth management services and investment solutions, we have proven our capability to surmount dire economic obstacles and successfully benefited our global clients in prudently managing their assets through efficient planning in order to achieve their financial goals.