As the end of 2019 is fast approaching I think it’s important to slow down and reflect on the year gone by. Sometimes the day-to-day can feel slow but the year itself has flown by. I think it’s important to be intentional about goal setting and designing your life but it’s equally important to reflect on what is and isn’t working for you. I do this for all areas of my life, but today I want to discuss the personal finance aspect of this exercise.
Hopefully you already have a budget and have been tracking your forecasted and actual income, expenses, savings and debt payments each week/month. If not, don’t fear, you can still reflect on your money situation using the information you do have and read about where to start with budgeting here.
Start by asking yourself the following questions and write down (yes, write down!) the answers:
Did you reach the goals you set for yourself in 2019?
From a personal finance perspective what did go well for you?
What areas were not so successful for you?
Why do you think these things didn’t go well?
Don’t dive into solution mode just yet. Just reflect on your habits and behaviours. If you need help digging into these areas here a some suggestions to get you thinking a little deeper.
Current Account/Credit Card activity
Review your current account and credit card activity. Some banks allow you to export your transactions to Microsoft Excel or group your transactions by categories and aggregate them so you can see how much you are spending on a particular area. If you have a budget on paper or digitally you can use this for your review. What are you spending most of your income on? What next? Are there any surprises here? Often times people are surprised by how much they are spending on impulse purchases or eating out or takeaway coffees. Is this spending in line with your values and your goals?
Are all of your bills paid and up to date? Have you paid any (or many) penalties for late or missed payments or poor current account behaviour during the year? Consider what these things say about how you are managing your personal finances and how they make you feel. Is it reflective of your values and goals? Is there anything you would like to change here? Or maybe you are in full control and all your bills are paid by direct debit and paid in full each month?
Next consider your current loan balances. What are your balances today and how do they compare to your balances at the beginning of the year? Are they trending in the right direction? Have you taken on more debt during the year or have you made some in-roads in paying down your debt?
Lastly look at any savings or investment accounts you have. What are your balances today compared to your balances at the start of this year? Is the trend moving upwards or downwards? Do the savings you have, give you a sense of security or do you feel exposed? Again, don’t get into solution planning just yet. For now, we are purely reflecting and saying Goodbye 2019.
Next go back to the prompts earlier in the post and expand on your responses. make THREE lists:
- Areas of my money management that I am NAILING
- Things that I am coasting-by on
- Personal finance areas where I need to up my game
The last step for this exercise before we get in to goal setting for 2020 (post coming soon!) is to say Goodbye 2019.
If you want to dig deeper into these exercises and Personal Finance goal setting you can read about our coaching package here.