Create a financial roadmap for 2015

As we bounce back after the Christmas break it’s timely to spend a few moments to think about how we can make sure 2015 is more financially rewarding than this year.

Everyone’s individual circumstances will be different and our goals will be affected by our particular life stage, be it an early 20s accumulator or a retiree. Nevertheless the opportunities that may be available to you in the fields of finance and investment are both varied and complex.

Like any project such as getting fit or learning a hobby, there is an important framework that is followed by those who get results.

Firstly, it’s important to start with the end in mind and understand your financial goals whatever they may be. They may be challenging longer term ones such as retiring debt free with $1 million in investable assets or equally worthwhile shorter term targets like reducing your mortgage by an extra $50k this year.

This isn’t novel advice but most Australians don’t follow it. Be as specific and realistic as possible.

The second important step is to get some assistance. Money management is now a team sport and some initial advice can ensure you have the right goals and understand the journey necessary to achieve them. Importantly, an adviser or a friend with similar financial goals can also act as an accountability partner and help you to measure and review your plan.

The third piece is to actually design your plan. It may be a complex set of professional recommendations or on a simpler level setting out an action list including the five most important things you need to do in the next year to move closer towards your stated financial goal. While the five things will all be important, identifying the top priority will help you maintain your focus.

Finally, it will be important to set up a review and measurement process with your adviser or accountability buddy that will not only keep you on track but will help you maintain your momentum by gaining a sense of progress.

Even professionals need to have a financial plan. For what it’s worth here are my top 5 for 2015.

  1. Reduce non deductible debt. I am undertaking some major renovations on a new home so after a long period of having only tax deductible debt, I now have a large ‘bad debt’ loan that needs attention.
  2.  Improve the returns in my SMSF. Due to inattention and some conservatism I have more cash on deposit in the fund than desirable. I am in the process of selecting some investments that will increase the yield at an acceptable risk level.
  3. Diversify my assets. I have some investments that it may be opportune to reduce or cash out of entirely to take advantage of some potentially higher growth opportunities.
  4. Structure my affairs for better tax efficiency. Tax laws are continually changing and I am aware of some opportunities that need examining that may legally reduce my overall tax impost.
  5. Improve the discipline in regularly reviewing and measuring results and progress. EVERYONE needs an accountability buddy or coach.