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Scoff all you want at New Year resolutions

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Fireworks It’s fashionable to mock New Year resolutions because they often end up as 7-day wonders or even less. We’re so used to multi-tasking at the risk of focusing on nothing that I do get why focusing on two or three things that matter most can be met with such pessimism. But I rather like making a list of goals and checking it twice (a day). In the first page of my 3-year journal (yes, I still keep one and it’s not digital!), it says “the palest ink is better than the brightest memory.” That’s an ancient Chinese proverb that I hope I won’t forget in the next 10 years. We all need every chance we can get to think more deeply about what we want, what we should focus our energies on, and a chance to start all over again. New beginnings… So here are some ideas for New Year resolutions for money-smart geeks. Do jump in if you have other suggestions, because deepening the discussion can only do us more good! 1. Pay off debt. Every centavo of it. In four months. I did this in 2006 but made new low-interest debt last year. Although this goal means the whole family gotta adjust our lifestyle in the next four months, we decided to allocate 40% of our combined family income to retire this debt and then we’re home free! Wahoo! My lazy other self is telling me it’s not worth the trouble – after all its just 9% per annum or 0.75% per month. Why make the family go through such belt-tightening when we can just pay everything off in a year? Answer is, it’s better for peace of mind and investment planning. No use saving for retirement and investing if you are paying interest. Goal-making tip: Keep goals specific and add a timeframe. 2. Increase emergency fund to six months’ worth of income by December 2008. This is a smash-hit for most couples and not just for those who are starting to take the wheel of financial planning. Again, experts have always said this comes first before investing because emergency needs for cash make you vulnerable to losses. Imagine being forced to take out your money from the stock market on the day equities make a high dive. Ouch. Double ouch once you see that two days after, the PSEi makes a triple rebound. With forecasts that 2008 will be a roller coaster ride, it makes good sense to protect ourselves with a fat emergency fund. Goal-making tip: Focus on must-do, rather than nice-to-do things. Conserve your energy. 3. Work smarter (not harder) to accomplish more in less time. Lavishing more attention on family keeps me more productive at work! Last year marked many milestones in my writing. It was so much busier than previous years. There were a lot of opportunities and I wanted to take them all! Greedy lil me discovered that I can’t do all the “save the country-help the community” things that I want even if I try as hard as I can. I just gotta learn how to say “No” or else, my work-life balance will go out of whack – something that a lot of the people I interview complain about. We don’t want to feel like a gerbil on a giant wheel of work forgetting why we do the things we do in the first place. Work and family should invigorate and inspire, not sap our energy and make us not want to wake up in the morning. Work smarter! Goal-making tip: Keep the list short. Review daily and assess at the end of the year. Our personal finance article “Starting the new year right” has more suggestions on personal finance resolutions for 2008. I also found Get Rich Slowly’s post on financial goals very helpful, especially the one on losing weight! The Digerati Life makes specific goals about blogging. I should figure out my own goals for MoneySmarts but I guess I'm still so new at this that I just want to enjoy writing. All Financial Matters’ goals remind me that life and money are very much related. Flexo who blogs in Consumerism Commentary makes specific goals when it comes to increasing his net income, paying down his student loans and even contributing to charity. These are what I call goals that are meant to last longer than the brightest ink. Good luck on your goals everybody. I hope your savings and investments strategies this year are as quietly successful and nimble as that of the rat’s. P.S. Share your resolutions here so that I can remind you about them the whole year through! :)

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This page contains a single entry by published on January 3, 2008 8:43 AM.

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