By Nthabiseng Moloi, MiWay Head of Brand & Marketing

While January is typically characterised by fad dieting and penny counting in the wake of an indulgent festive season, it need not necessarily be all doom and gloom…

In fact, the year’s opening stanza offers up the perfect opportunity to reflect, plan and re-assess before the year kicks off in earnest.

So rather than dwelling on those back-to-work blues, opt instead to use this all-too-rare clean slate to get excited about the year ahead and to find ways to make it your best yet. What would be a better way to start the new decade than by focusing on the countless opportunities that await?

Here are some top tips to help you start your year on a high note:

Start saving

While your bank account may have taken a beating during December, now is your chance to think about smart ways to save money in 2020.

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Start by taking stock of the things you really do and do not need in your life – perhaps you do not really need to dine out twice a week – and see what you can set aside and allocate to an interest-earning savings account.

Simply by putting aside a small amount of money each month, you will put yourself in a far better position to achieve your financial goals.

Eye on the prize

Saving in general can be difficult, but when you establish a specific goal – perhaps it is a new car, a new home or a desire to fund your children’s education – it becomes a lot easier.

So take this time to think about what your ideal life looks like and identify clear and achievable goals that you would like to realise over a certain period of time. In so doing, you will ensure that the money you are putting aside each month has a defined purpose, thus making it easier to part with at the end of every month.

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Think ahead

Recent reports suggest that only approximately 8%[i] of South Africans have made sufficient provisions for a comfortable retirement, with many hoping to rely on their children once their working lives have come to an end.

So while retirement may seem a little far away, it is never too early to start planning for this eventuality. If you have not yet invested in a Retirement Annuity (RA), now is the perfect time to do so.

Not only do these interest-bearing accounts offer up an easy way to put away money for a rainy day, but they also come complete with significant tax benefits. Even if you start small, the main thing is simply to start somewhere – your future self will thank you.

Re-think your insurance

Married or moved homes over the course of the past year? Along with significant life changes like these comes the possibility to re-look one’s insurance policies, which could end up saving you plenty each month.

For example, if you have moved from an apartment with on-street parking to a secure complex, your car insurance premiums are likely to become less onerous.

Equally, if you are now married, you might want to look into the possibility of a joint insurance plan, which could end up being significantly less costly. If your life has undergone any significant changes of late, you would be well advised to speak to your insurer to see how you can lower your monthly premiums.

No matter what your priorities and aspirations might be, the important thing is to remain focused and goal-orientated and to ensure that you commit to a plan that is realistic and feasible

Plan to reward yourself

Not only is the start of the year a great time to find ways to cut back, but it is also an ideal opportunity to start realising your goals.

Perhaps you have always wanted to go overseas, or you have been meaning to join the gym for years but have not gotten around to it. Once you have figured out a few ways to save on the things you do not need, it is equally important to make allowances for the things you do and to plan ahead so that you can live your way well into the year and decade.

No matter what your priorities and aspirations might be, the important thing is to remain focused and goal-orientated and to ensure that you commit to a plan that is realistic and feasible.

By planning carefully and avoiding impulsive buying decisions that do not serve you in the long run, you will be able to make 2020 your most successful year yet.

MiWay is a licensed insurer and Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970).

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