Improve the way you invest for the year

Having an eager desire to achieve more is a key motivator for success. If you want to achieve more in your investing, why not consider setting new wealth goals and not just new health goals for the new year?

New and revised goals require a new plan, so for continued success with your investments into this year, start planning properly.

Here are four strategies to get your new investment year started on solid footing and continue building your wealth.

1. Use the end of the financial year to plan for what you want from the new one

The end of the year is a great time to think about new commitments. It’s also the best time to do a full personal review of how you did on the goals you have set yourself previously.

This helps you get organized as you identify habits that are either helpful or harmful to your investing goals. You can review your spending habits, pinpoint weak areas and set clear boundaries for the next step in your journey – all of this helps you make the link between your money and what your money means to you.

2. Organize your money habits

Once you’ve identified your habits, it’s much easier to try and control them. Automate your investing where possible (with debit orders or repeat payment profiles) so that you can stick to your commitments to save money.

When it comes to spending, ordering goods online can be a good way to shop within the limits of an achievable budget. You’ll be mindful about what you’re buying, the overall cost and you’ll be less prone to impulsive buying.

Try a financial software app that lets you snap photos of your receipts so you can keep track of where your money goes each month.

3. Be mindful of your options and opportunities

If you really want to improve the way that you invest for the new year, having a mindfulness about your money will also improve your understanding of financial markets, not just the inflows and outflows from your bank account. It also helps you have a better relationship with your financial adviser as your money and how it is managed will have a deeper meaning for you.

4. Expand in a relevant way

The beauty of a diverse portfolio is that you are able to leverage multiple opportunities in the market whilst mitigating risk. When you look to expand your investment strategy for the new year, to successfully profit from diversifying your portfolio you have to map out a winning strategy that is unique to you.

Diversifying your portfolio should be done for reasons that are applicable to you; in other words, for goals that matter to you. Develop a strategy that considers your comfort levels with different market options but also has benefits for your desired outcomes, and are not simply the latest trend.

The best teams have coaches who design a game strategy that’s based on what their strong and weak areas are so that they can leverage their position to win.

Start rolling out your plan of action as soon as possible. Start prioritizing your bottom line now. Adopt a hands-on approach to managing your wealth in collaboration with your adviser.

Moving on from “summer-body” goals

Ever set yourself a goal to get your ‘summer body’ ready? On some level, all of us have moments when we’re not happy with our bodies and the way they look – whether it’s seasonal, emotional or hereditary… and we resolve to do something about it.

For many of us… these turn out to be short-term goals.

We could work at the change for a few weeks, or even a few months, but if we manage to maintain that goal throughout our life we will have managed to turn a short term goal into a bigger vision of a healthy lifestyle.

Achieving your summer body is similar to an aeroplane on the runway – preparing to take off. If the plane starts to pick up speed, but can’t actually take off – consider it a short-term goal. But, when it takes flight and leaves the ground, continuous work and attention are needed throughout the flight – and this is a long-term goal achieved!

With the right flight conditions and enough fuel (motivation and determination), you can turn small “summer-body” goals into larger life goals of healthy, wealthy living. Moving on from summer-body goals requires motivation that doesn’t have to be hard to find. It often begins with changing the way you think, and changing the way you think about happiness and success is often a good place to start!

Success doesn’t breed happiness, it’s the other way around. Instead of being frustrated with yourself as you are now, choose to be happy that you have decided to act on your health goals. Even if you relapse along the way, be happy you still remember your health goals.

Learn to be happy along the way to your transformed self, don’t wait until the journey appears to be successful to be happy. Be happy because you are already living a healthier lifestyle. Enjoy who you are becoming. Enjoy the moment.

After setting clear health goals, it is important to tell yourself that you will continue to act on them to develop a habit of making healthy decisions; this is how you keep to your vision.

Once you’ve achieved one summer-body goal, you are more likely to be better engaged with achieving your next goal – which can extend far beyond your personal health and wealth and can start to influence and support others.

Leading entrepreneurs are successful because of the way they are able to build into people around them and solve problems that others haven’t yet solved. But just as they help others, they too are supported by people who believe in them.

As you set more goals and change short-term goals into long-term goals, it’s vital to have an accountability partner, someone to offer a different perspective and encourage you.

If you’ve been doing it by yourself all along and now feel you could use an accountability partner, reach out to the people you trust and start talking more about how you appreciate and value their support. Start seeing your summer-body goals as the first steps to greater things and not simply another New Year resolution that didn’t make it past January.

Setting goals and taking stock

How you finish your year is a powerful way to create momentum for the new year. How much you achieved (or didn’t quite manage) this year can inspire how much you aim to achieve next year. In the same way that an athlete pushes harder in every game, or an artist stretches their skills with each new work, so too can we set our sights higher for the year ahead.

And, planning for it now presents us with an opportunity of walking into the new year knowing what we want to achieve, right from the starting blocks!

Here are some tips to help you set next year’s goals.

Reflect on the current year’s achievements

What you want is most effectively framed by looking at what you already have. Reflecting on the goals achieved this year gives you an idea of what you could strive for in the new year.

Take some time to reflect on your current plans and check how much progress you’ve made. Reflect on what you drew motivation from, for example; consider the books you’ve read that gave you new insights, or flip through your playlists for music that made you feel productive, creative and positive.

Reflect on your hurdles as well; this can help you know what you need to work on in order to achieve more next year and complete the goals that you haven’t ticked off your list yet.

Think about your short and long term achievements

Seeing all these goals as part of your overall life plan will give the confidence to continue pursuing them. So, as much as it is important to attach a timeframe to your goals, keep in mind that 12 months can be a short time to achieve everything. Be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to lengthen your timelines.

Set S.M.A.R.T goals

Many people love this approach to setting achievable goals.

  • Specific – Set simple and specific goals. Try brainstorming your goals and discuss what you want to accomplish, why it matters, who is involved, where it’s located and which resources are required.
  • Measurable – Measure your goals and keep tabs on your progress. You can measure your goals by asking yourself questions like, How will I know when it’s accomplished?, How much effort do I need to put in?
  • Achievable – Set realistic and attainable goals that are within your abilities to achieve. An achievable goal is something that you can easily figure out how to accomplish within your constraints.
  • Relevant – Set goals that matter to you and align with your life goals. Just because you see your friends swimming in the deep end, doesn’t mean you should start there when you learn how to swim.
  • Time-bound – Instead of simply saying “Next year I want to learn how to swim”, set a specific timeframe for you to accomplish that goal. Attaching a time to it, is designed to prevent you from being complacent and remember your deadlines.

Create a strategy for success

Have a plan of action for your goals. Write out the next steps you need to accomplish them. Develop a map and routine for your goals.

For example, if you want to lose weight. Your plan would look something like this:

  • Your why: To feel light, healthy and athletic
  • Action 1: Drinking at least eight glasses of water per day and substituting the Friday afternoon beer with a vegetable shake, for the next 6 weeks.
  • Action 2: Go running twice a week and do more chores – learn to be busier and active.
  • Routine: Weigh yourself at least once a week to keep track of your progress.

Have someone who will hold you accountable

This is powerful! Choosing someone who you trust and will listen to will keep you motivated and remind you of what you wanted to achieve. It’s as valuable as a snooze button in the morning… sometimes you need a second alarm to wake up properly.

Even if one of the ideas above helps you, remember, these are YOUR goals. They’re not a chore or an obligation; they’re your commitment to a better you.

How to stay out of the malls

Whilst the holiday season holds many treats and treasures, one of the most stressful errands is shopping for gifts. Finding the perfect gifts for your family, friends and colleagues isn’t a simple job. In addition to trying to find thoughtful and affordable gifts, battling the queues and parking frenzies only adds to the stress.

Thankfully you can do your shopping from the comfort of your own home – online. Finding the best online gift sites is now one of the first things that come to mind when people shop.

If you’re trying to find something awesome fast – try these sites out first.

Yuppiechef.com

Yuppiechef offers the latest leading kitchen cookware for less. Founded in 2006, this online gem is best for finding novel items to stock up the kitchen and living area or for the perpetual entertainer who ‘has everything’.

They also offer a 30-day return policy as well as a newsletter which has exclusive information on latest releases and sales events direct to your inbox.

Zando.co.za

For the fashionistas in your crew, this is where you will find an impressive selection of trendy clothing brands at affordable prices. They are ideal if you’re looking for fashion labels you can give as gifts without breaking your budget.

Zando also offers free delivery on all orders without any minimum spend as well as seven ways to pay. You get up to R200 off when you sign up for their newsletter and they also promise easy collections and returns.

Takealot.com

This online store sells everything, from the latest tech to clothing, camping gear and cookware. Consider them your online wholesaler with a massive catalogue which includes books, entertainment systems and games.

With Takealot you get free delivery with purchases over R250 and they run superb daily deals.

Exclusive Books

South Africa’s leading book retailer’s website is loved by bookworms because the wide range of book genres that they offer, from history to fiction, from self-help to spiritual gurus, you’ll definitely find international and local best-sellers all on their list.

Sure, few things beat the experience of smelling a book and perusing the aisles of a bookstore on a lazy day, but when it’s busy… it’s way less fun. You qualify for free delivery when you make a purchase of more than R350, with which you also get 21-day returns.

Makro

Another store that has a variety in their stock. You get a fantastic range of gym and sports equipment, outdoor gear, kids’ toys, necessities and groceries. If you’re looking for gaming consoles, TVs, computers and other electronics then check out Makro.

You have the choice of collecting your order in-store at your convenience or having it delivered to you. If you’re running out of time and simply want to bypass the queues, this is a good option.

Woolworths

Woolworths is another premier option for all your apparel, home accessories, food, and generally great gift ideas. They have a handy gift guide for him, her and the kids.

For first time order they offer free delivery. There’s also a 60-day return policy and food items will be available for next day delivery.

Order from Woolworths online and skip the supermarket checkout queues and get all your gifts delivered to you.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts – so if you don’t have the budget or the means, a handmade gift, home-baked goods or handpicked posey often mean so much more!

Watching what you spend… and what you eat!

With all the treats at the social gatherings, watching both your budget and your diet during the festive season can be a challenge.

Whether we’re talking about savings goals, or weight goals, it’s easy to get a little carried away. It’s wonderful to treat your loved ones and enjoy yourself, and during a holiday it’s important to be kind to yourself and let loose a little. However, if you want to enjoy the season to its fullest, it’s helpful to have a positive mindfulness towards what you’re consuming.

An over-inflated tummy can be just as troubling as over-inflated expenses that need to be paid back in the months to come.

With the former… here are some tips you can use to help you keep to your health goals during the festive season!

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables

Whilst you don’t have to stick to every calorie (because that’s a serious buzzkill) use your current dietary goals as guidelines that you’re willing to be flexible with.

Fill out every meal and snack time with fruits and veggies. You can even bring your healthy meals to the social events you will be attending. Offering to bring your own dish of greens may be a good idea.

If you’re hosting, that means you have control of the menu. You can make healthier choices when shopping for the party, your guests may appreciate some healthy (and tastier) alternatives too. Healthy eaters are happy Peters!

Eat enough – check your meal portions

If that lavish roast on the table, with all that sauce, looks too good to avoid, don’t go wild on it. Have a glass of water before a big meal and you will be less likely to overeat. Don’t continue eating even when you feel full, you’ll regret it an hour later and enjoy the rest of your afternoon/evening far less.

If you have kids, or are celebrating with other people who have children, check how they feel about sweets and treats and don’t hand out chocolatey temptations without their consent.

If you go to restaurants with harvest tables, remember that the size of your portions equal the amount you will pay. So, being practical about your meal portions means being practical about your finances as well.

As the host, don’t over cater; avoid wasting food and don’t go over your food budget.

Keep to your exercise regime by changing it up a little…

Another key aspect to feeling happy and healthy is stimulating the flow of endorphins. It’s not always easy to keep up with a training schedule, or gym visits over the festive season, so why not consider mixing it up a little?

If you can’t run on the treadmill, ask your family to join you on a walk or trail. Spend some time on the trampoline with the kids, swim some lengths in the pool with a child on your back or play some pool games with your mates. Take the dogs for a run on the beach or explore a new trail that you’ve been dying to visit.

Remember, looking after your health doesn’t have to happen under the false-lighting of a near-empty Virgin Active.

Making mindful choices during the festive season is good for both your health and financial goals. Your holiday budget should align with your health goals, how much (and what) you eat will affect how much you spend.

You are in charge. You’re able to make healthy choices that will help you enjoy the festive season. Eat well and spend well!

When to re-think your medical plan

The first benefit of medical cover is peace-of-mind, the second is that you will be protected from potential financial ruin should your hospital bill be more than you can manage. It is important to be on a medical plan that suits both your monthly affordability and caters to most of your medical requirements.

Since changing your medical plan or option can be costly, you need to change at the right time and for the right reasons. Here are some tips on what to consider when you rethink the suitability of your medical plans.

Change at the right time

It is advisable to change medical plans or options at the end of the year, so you get to access the full membership benefits for the new year. Changing at the end of the year also does not carry the penalty costs you would have had to pay when changing mid-year, but having said this, many medical plans do not allow for upgrades in the middle of the year.

Check benefit limits

It is important for you to know what your plan covers, especially if you or your dependents have chronic conditions or special medical requirements, but also to know where the limits will kick in. For example, would you be needing new glasses every year? Some medical plans allow for a new pair every year for every member, whilst some will only allow for one per year for the whole family and others will take the cost out of your medical savings.

For more serious conditions, it’s helpful to know if you can claim multiple times in the year and where your limits will start to attract co-payments or no longer be covered by your medical plan.

When changing to a new scheme, make sure that the benefits of the new scheme are a good match for the health conditions you and your family experience or are likely to experience.

Upgrading or downgrading options needs to make sense

Moving to a higher or lower cost option within the same scheme also needs to make sense. It’s wiser to only change to a lower option because you have less risk and the benefits you need are still covered in that lower option, not because you want to save money.

Look for your favourites

As you rethink your medical plan, find out whether visits to your favourite GP will be paid for by you or the new scheme. Check if the GPs and specialists in your area are covered, in case your medical cover only pays for visits to someone across town or far from you.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with how to make a change (or if a change is even needed), then let’s have a chat and see how we can work together to help you make a better decision.

Sharing Is Caring

You’ve learnt lessons throughout your life. Some of them are unique to you, but many will apply to others too. Being open to sharing these will benefit those nearest and dearest to you – and help you reflect on what you’ve learnt.

This is profoundly true when it comes to how we make decisions around our finances. Sharing these lessons may be a sensitive topic but it’s worth breaking the ice!

Encouraging these conversations promotes honesty and transparency. Everyone has an opportunity to understand the goals and challenges of financial planning, can engage with how it relates to your (or their) personal circumstances and will be able to contribute their thoughts, fears and excitement for what you are building together.

How you share is also important, it is not as simple as saying, “I’m saving money.”

Start with what money means to you, and how it fits inside of more comprehensive events, dreams and goals. If you’re sharing this with your family, take the time to show them how the plans consider everyone. Tell your kids how investing is your way of taking their future seriously for anything they may want to do in the future. Remember, it’s not only about what you’re saving for, it’s also important to discuss what you’re currently spending.

It’s easier to make changes when you need them

As you open up these conversations, it’s considerably easier to adjust your budget and financial plan when needed. Those closest to you are less confused when change needs to happen and so the transition of spending habits becomes smoother; everyone knows why you’re saving – especially if you’ve made it known that it’s a collective effort.

Support is more forthcoming

When you share openly you have far more chance of receiving support to ensure the success of your plans, especially when the people included in the plan are invested in its success! Even if you’re sharing your plans with your adult children, or close friends who won’t benefit from your financial decisions directly, they will be able to support you in achieving your goals.

It’s a little like pushing a car. Pushing a car that has people inside, all by yourself, is much harder than them hopping out and helping you push.

Goals become reachable

When you’re able to be flexible, have loads of support… reaching the goals you’re working towards becomes that much easier.

Telling your spouse or partner that you’d like to save money to renovate your home will help them understand why you want to amend your household budget and with their support, it will be quicker and easier to save for those renovations. They can also help with managing the kids’ expectations and talk about how the changes will benefit everyone in the family.

Sharing your life and financial lessons with those closest to you promotes an environment of teamwork and inclusivity – and teamwork always trumps individual work!

The retirement gap needs a new rap

Retirement (as well as education and the job market) is one of our greatest future-unknowns.

We know it will happen… but we are finding it harder to understand and predict what it might look like. This doesn’t mean we should abandon planning for it. If anything, it simply means that we need to change the way we start to talk about, engage with and plan for retirement.

According to a global survey done by BlackRock, about 51% of the world’s working population, worry that their workplace pension will not cover the retirement life they want. This is why most people have a dim view of retirement. But this view is mostly framed by the conversation that retirement is meant to be a welcome reward following a successful working career. In other words, we work for about 45 years, and then we take a 20 year paid vacation….

The biggest problem with this picture is that very few people are able to save for that full 45 year period, and even fewer manage to avoid having to draw on these savings for unforeseen expenses ahead of their retirement.

That’s why we have a rap about the gap that’s not very helpful.

If we are to change this conversation and try to gain a more helpful understanding of retirement, we need to find out how to ask better questions.

How are you shaping your expectations for retirement?

A Schroders 2018 survey, showed that people usually receive less than what they expected their retirement income to be. It is important to know how much you will receive as this needs to align with your planning and your expectations. Whilst retirement is not only about how much you will earn, it’s important to know what you will have to work with.

If you would like to have the opportunity to study further, open a new business, pursue new hobbies, travel or live abroad, planning for a renewable income as well as new income sources is important.

The same Schroders survey also found that 43% of global retirees, who said their income was less than expected, still felt like their retirement income was sufficient to live off comfortably.

Some people continue working into their retirement years; not because they have to, but because they choose to. This is great as it’s part of reframing our expectations for retirement. Ideally, you don’t want to work because you are forced into it for financial reasons, but you also don’t want to avoid work opportunities purely because your expectations of retirement exclude those opportunities.

(Taken from Visual Capitalist.)

What does ‘planning ahead’ actually mean to you?

An Aegon 2019 survey says, 25% of global employees say they are on course to achieving their expected retirement income. This is often perceived as meaning: they’ve started early.

But what does ‘early’ mean for you and your personal plan? Planning for retirement even while in your 20s or 30s gives you more time to invest and grow your retirement capital. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start in your 40s. Yes, the later you start certainly poses more challenges, but not if you have other elements in your plan, or it’s part of how you perceive your retirement.

Defining your event horizon (ie. when you would like to retire) is crucial to both your mindset and your investment success. If you start with a positive and personally relevant view of what your retirement (not someone else’s) will look like, you are far more likely to achieve your goals.

How much are you willing to share with your adviser?

Help from a financial adviser has been proven to significantly improve the financial wellbeing of people – both before and after retirement. However, the level at which financial guidance and intervention can help depends on how much you’re willing to share with your financial adviser.

Building a relationship of deep trust, over time, is most often the best way to ensure open and clear communication in a financial planning relationship. Retirement should be enjoyed, not feared!

Effective planning for retirement helps you create expectations that enable you to look forward to retirement.

Covering cancer in your senior years

One of the less-pleasant facts to face about life in your 60s, 70s and 80s is the fact that you’re more likely to have health issues. The biggest and most expensive, if you read the claims statistics by insurers out there, is definitely cancer. However, there is good news to be had here, even for those in their advanced years.

The good news

Fortunately, medicine and research has advanced dramatically and the ‘big C’ has been taken down a few pegs. Cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was and South Africa in particular has a great reputation for its oncology research and practises, with cancer fighters travelling from all over the world to receive treatment here.

Our insurance is top-tier too – critical illness cover, which includes dread disease cover and is the most common form of insurance to protect against cancer costs, was invented in SA.

Benefits of ‘cancer cover’

Unlike a normal medical aid, which simply covers certain medical procedures for certain covered illnesses (which usually don’t include cancer), critical illness cover is a more whole-of-life solution. This means that it covers not just predictable costs like chemotherapy or prescribed medication, but also any loss of income you may have (if still working) while undergoing cancer treatment.

Certain cancer cover will also pay for therapy sessions for you and your loved ones following the trauma of battling cancer and provide money towards comfort treatments (like wigs for those with hair loss, for example).

All of these make for compelling reasons to purchase critical illness or dread disease insurance. Here’s how, and here’s what to know:

Start as early as possible

First, the not-so-great news: insurance against cancer can be expensive if you’re taking it out after your 50s. This is because the algorithms insurers use to give you your monthly premium amount is calculated based on risk, and typically your risk is higher the older you are. However – it’s a lot less expensive than actually contracting cancer!

“I had cover when I was diagnosed with lung cancer, and we quickly burned through R3 million during treatment in just a couple of years,” said cancer survivor Dr Grant Hatch at Liberty’s recent Lib X launch.

This means that the younger you are when taking out cover, the lower your monthly payments are likely to be – so it pays to start earlier. Another tip: if you have an existing policy with a long-term insurer, for example a loss of income protection insurance product, it’s often more cost-effective to take out a second product with the same insurer than to go to a new one altogether.

Full disclosure is a must

In general, the more you tell about your lifestyle and potential risks, the better for both your insurance premium and the type of cover you can enjoy. Make your age clear to the financial adviser or insurer right away, to avoid any non-disclosure that could mean trouble later on.

But go one step further as well – give as much evidence as you can of a healthy lifestyle. Different insurers have different policies when it comes to health tests they require you to do, but doing the maximum amount and then some is always a good idea. Also be clear to mention if you have a history of cancer in you or your family and be clear that cancer cover is what you want.

Understand what will happen if you do contract cancer

Again, different insurers vary in their approach, but it’s likely that, especially at the age of 60 or older, your critical illness benefit will pay out in lump sum form, which means all of it at once rather than smaller monthly portions. Don’t worry, this lump sum is not taxed – but it does mean that it’s up to you to budget and understand the costs of your cancer treatment and medication in most instances.

This can actually often be an empowering experience, giving those dealing with the stresses of fighting cancer some much-needed hope and purpose. With a good head on your shoulders, a healthy lifestyle and a sound idea of how critical illness cover works, there’s no reason not to be fully prepared, and covered, well into your senior years.

Investing in your health

It’s a well-known and accepted fact that the best time to plant a tree was twenty-years ago! It’s easy to look back and wish we’d started or learnt something years previously, being able to see how it could have benefited us in the long run. It follows, then, that if we didn’t start something years ago, and we wish we had… the second-best time to start is now. This is how we start to create and regain some control over our future.

Planning for our future is a proactive step we need to take… FOR our future.

When it comes to our health, it’s no different. Every decision we make today needs to affect our health positively down the road. Adopting healthier lifestyle habits now, for a healthier and longer life in the future, is an easy-ish first step.

See it as investing in your health for a healthier future. Here are some of the ways we can invest in our health for the future.

1. Keep your mind healthy with positive challenges and new skills

A healthy mind keeps our body healthy. Reading new books and researching different topics is a good mental exercise and in the process we attain new insights, challenging how and what we think.

We can also keep our minds healthier by adopting a positive, solution-based outlook on life. Instead of stressing about our problems, we can shift our focus to creating new solutions and building a robust foundation for tackling life’s challenges.

Lifestyle goals are important in terms of what our mind processes. Visualize a future that brings positive thoughts for our mind. Challenge yourself, learn a new language, learn new skills and develop yourself emotionally, relationally and spiritually.

2. Keep your body healthy by eating and exercising properly

Investing our money on high quality nutritional foods as well as investing our time in regular exercise is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having a healthier body for the years ahead.

When it comes to eating, it’s often more about improving our mindfulness and preparing our meals ahead of time. Bad eating habits are often formed because we don’t pay enough attention to what we’re eating or leave meal preparation to the last-minute and make choices based on ease rather than on nutritional benefit.

Improving our exercise routine works best when we set smaller, achievable goals. If you push yourself too much in the first week, you will crash into a painful heap and discard your fresh goals for comfortable, pain-free habits.

3. Keep your soul healthy by respecting and loving yourself

A healthy soul is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

This begins by respecting and loving ourselves. Setting powerful and engaging goals for our future is a motivating way to start practicing self-respect and self-love, not limiting our possibilities and acknowledging our potential is exciting and enriching!

Your own opinion of yourself needs to be positive; for your confidence, for your soul, for your health!

Investing in our health has to be approached by considering our whole self: body, mind and soul. It’s an important challenge that we need to give ourselves in order to reap the benefits in 10, 20 or 40 years time!