Start the new year financially wise

Written by *Marilyn Williams
A new year has dawned on us. Some of us were caught up in the moment and spent recklessly on items we don’t re- ally need. But not all is gloom and doom as we are still employed and have a second chance to get it right.

I am very sceptical about new year’s resolutions. I never set them so I never fail to live up to them. What I do believe in is good routines that last throughout the year. For this reason, I've made it a habit to review my financial responsibilities at least once a year. With that in mind, here are seven things you can do today to set yourself up to be more financially prepared and prosperous in 2013.

1. Write down your financial goals.

It's hard to make financial decisions without having goals to guide you. Having a written financial plan can help you stick to those goals. Like anything else, if it's thought about that's a start. If you take some action on something that's better but if it's written down and you're holding yourself accountable, it takes it one level further. If you already have a plan, great, but goals change as you age and as your life changes so you need to review them regularly.

2. Organise your spending. Create a budget.

A budget is a big part of financial planning and keeps you on track to meet your goals so write down your income and realistic expenses and stick to it. We tend to exclude the small items like daily bread, spending for kids and lunch at work. This should be part of your expenses as it all adds up.

3. Check your credit report.

Your credit report is more than just a history of your account payments. It can provide you with an early warning signal that something is not right. Every South African is entitled to one free credit bureaus report. You can contact Experian on 0861 105 665 for your free credit bureaus report. Even if you're not concerned about your score, you'll want to ensure that accounts that should have been closed were, nothing is on there that shouldn't be and to look at the inquiries on your report. Are there any loans or credit cards listed that you didn't apply for?

4. Cut your fees.

Draw a full bank statement and check all fees from your account. You might be paying fees or insurance for an account that has been paid up long ago.

5. Review your will.

While you likely won't need to change your will every year, you should at least look it over and ask yourself whether it still reflects your wishes. Think about whether you have experienced any life-changing events such as a marriage, separation or the birth of a child.

All of this should be reflected in your will. Also review who you have appointed as your executor, power of attorney, beneficiaries and guardian of your children. Perhaps key players have changed. Whatever you do, don't try to change your will by writing on it - the changes won't be legally binding.

6. Review your insurance cover.

Start with property insurance. If you've acquired anything valuable since your last review, it likely isn't covered by your existing policy so make a detailed inventory for your insurer. Also, be sure to notify your insurer if you've made any major renovations that will affect the value of your home. And don't forget to review your life and disability insurance. Ask yourself whether anything has changed in the past year that affects your coverage needs.

7. Be grateful.

Make time to be grateful for all we have, all we wish to have and all we shall never have.

Have blessed 2013.

Marilyn Williams is a registered debt Counsellor 0861 777 29