Oliver Maher at United Advisers Marine shares his advice for crafting a solid financial future.
Whether reflecting on our work goals or personal life, the end of the year is the perfect time for taking stock. And as you look back, don’t omit your finances from your review. While 2020 has been tumultuous, it’s important to measure your progress, see what worked and what didn’t, and adjust for the New Year. You can see exactly how much you earned, how much debt you’ve paid off, and how much you’ve saved. An honest appraisal of your finances can also jumpstart your financial plan for 2021.
If this year has taught us nothing else, it’s the importance of an emergency fund. Unforeseen events, like COVID-19, can create a sinkhole in your best-laid financial plan.
Start by making time to review last year’s budget and to build one for 2021. Can you unlock extra money to put toward your savings? Or did you save less than expected due to the coronavirus and losing work? Take a good, hard look at any spending habits you may need to change in the coming year. Once you have your spending and savings on track, review any investments and make sure they still align with your goals. If you don’t yet have any investments, perhaps now is a good time to consider what could work best for your situation and what you can afford.
If this year has taught us nothing else, it’s the importance of an emergency fund. Unforeseen events, like COVID-19, can create a sinkhole in your best-laid financial plan. On this note, make sure your insurances are up to date and cover the right things, should something unexpected happen. Insurance is a necessary evil, and you want to be completely protected.
Once you have taken care of the past and present by reviewing and protecting what you have, you can look to the future. Having clear financial goals is the first step in translating your vision of the future into reality. Broad-based financial goals can help you initially, such as “save more and spend less.” However, the numbers and importance attached to those figures differ greatly for everyone. For example, are you planning on staying in yachting? Or do you have an exit planned in a few years’ time? Perhaps you’re leaving to start your own company? The most important thing is to prioritize your personal goals and align your financial decisions with them. Also, reviewing your goals not only holds you accountable to them but can help shape your spending and savings habits for next year.
If your financial health is in good shape, congratulations! If it can use a little work, at least you know where you need to concentrate your efforts. Like everything in your work and personal life, your finances deserve care and attention, so remember to update your annual financial check-up at the same time next year to track your progress.
This column originally appeared in the February 2021 issue of Dockwalk.