In fact, he mentioned in his post that he came across this financial checklist at Personal Finance Junkie.
I read both and thought: “Hey, instead of just scoring as I read along with their lists, why don’t I write mine down as well, and share it with people?”
So, here I am, writing this down.
Let’s see what I score! (Oh boy, this is going to be a fun exercise!)
I encourage all of you to do the same!
Financial Goal #1. Build a starter emergency fund of $1,000.
This is a good starting point of your financial journey. $1,000 may seem a lot, but start off small. Even achieving a small goal of $100 within [insert your time frame here] is a great accomplishment. I always say it’s the sum of your baby steps that lead you to amazing results!
Financial Goal #2. Organize your important financial information in a binder or eFile.
I personally compile all of my financial information in a spreadsheet that calculates my net worth. I update this every month to see where I’m at with my finances. I know I can use apps such as Mint, but I personally don’t like using them. So, now I just do this myself on a personalized spreadsheet.
Aside from that, I also have a filing cabinet that stores all of my financial documents related to the car, primary residence, and investment property. I’m sure there are far more efficient ways to do this, but it just feels safer that way. Lol, yes call me old skool!
Other information such as my spending are all recorded on my online credit card statements. I solely rely on these statements (to track my spending) because I’m not a cash type of gal.
But if you’re the type who itches to spend with credit cards, I don’t recommend doing what I do. This will only hinder your financial goals.
Financial Goal #3. Develop a monthly budget habit.
I don’t formally keep track of a budget anymore, but mentally, I am very cautious with my spending habits. As mentioned above, I track my spending online by reviewing all of my credit card transactions. Seriously, I’m not kiddin’ when I say I don’t carry cash! So if you need to rob someone, it ain’t gonna be me!
Though I don’t keep an entirely strict budget, I do allow myself some room to overspend on some months that make up my underspending in other months. If I continue seeing surpluses, then great, I’ll buy some stocks for fun!
For those who struggle to save, I recommend you to track your spending on a piece of paper or a spreasheet. Eventually when you get the hang of things, you may feel that there’s no need to track every nickel and dime. But if it becomes a habit and you love tracking everything, then by all means, go ahead. If that’s you, great job!! 👏
Financial Goal #4. Pay off all your debts.
Big fat fail!
Haha, pay off my debts? Not even close!
For goodness sake, I’m still carrying student loans. I know, you must think I’m lame.
That’s okay. Everyone thinks differently and I respect the opposite view.
My rationale for not paying off my student loans:
Given the lower rates in the past, and the deductible interest expense, I chose not to pay off my student loans.
Instead, I took the risk to invest in stocks and equity index funds. Luckily, this worked out really well thanks to the bull markets after the 2008-2009 crisis. I know we can’t predict the future, but during 2011 when I was 24, I thought: “Hey, I’m still young. With a longgggg time horizon, I can afford some risks especially when rates are cheap!”
I viewed this type of debt as a wealth-building tool. It was an opportunity and I wasn’t scared one bit!
People tell me that I’ve got some balls, but Idk about that one…
Despite cheap money or not, I know that the majority of you are afraid of debt, to the point where you can’t sleep at night. So, I can totally understand why you chose to pay them off quickly. Guaranteed 4% to 5% return, right? At the end, it really depends on your tolerance for risks.
Though I have to be honest with you now.
I thought about this a few months ago: I can continue to pay interest, or kill it.
With the recent rate hikes in Canada, I may as well just kill it, right?
With that said, I’m giving myself a goal to punch that sucker (all in one shot) before April 2018. Soooo, wish me luck!
Financial Goal #5. Build a mid-level emergency fund of $10,000.
I agree with Personal Finance Junkie that once you’re free of debt (IMO that’s credit card and consumer debt), then you can start building a bigger cushion to absorb any sudden shocks.
Read here to get started with your emergency fund!
Financial Goal #6. Cut your expenses.
Generally speaking, I’m pretty cautious and careful with my money, but there was a period where I was spending most of my pay check. Read here to find out what I learned in my “no-spend” on stupid sh!t challenge.
But for you starters out there, cut the things you hate such as:
– Bank fees
– ATM fees
– Overdraft fees
– Late fees (start automating your bills)
– Car insurance (negotiate)
– Home insurance (again, negotiate)
– Underused subscriptions (i.e. magazines, gym membership, online services, Amazon shipping service, etc.)
Speaking of underused subscriptions, review your past statements to see what’s being charged. You can also use Trim, an app system that aims to help you save money.
Next, cut the things that you don’t love and can live without.
I’m not suggesting you to cut your daily coffee and lattes. If it keeps you happy throughout the day, then it’s worth spending (even if it’s Starbucks)!
Instead, stop buying other things just because they were on clearance. If you don’t plan on using them anytime soon, then the chances are you never will!
Overall, spending and slashing expenses is about prioritizing what’s most important to you. Follow this and you won’t feel the pinch!
Financial Goal #7. Be aware of your credit score.
This is one of the most overlooked and underrated point. Believe it or not, having an excellent credit score can help you and your family build wealth. This is no surprise because the higher your score, the less interest you pay. This can amount to thousands of dollars over the years.
I attached this Forbes article by Rob Berger for your reference. In this article, he explains and calculates the total costs of what you pay when you have a good vs. bad credit score.
On top, I found this post by LaToya Irby that lists the nine benefits of having a good credit score.
Take a few moments to read them. I’m really hoping it will motivate you to build a stronger credit score.
Financial Goal #8. Earn extra income.
Despite my sad 9-5 sh!t hole, I still make time to earn extra money by doing what I enjoy. That is refurbishing and designing furniture that people give away.
There’s only so much you can save. But your earning power is unlimited.
Inspired by the book “How Rich People Think” by Steve Siebold, here’s my mantra that you can start following:
“Money is abundant.”
Repeat after me, my friends. Money is abundant.
Yes, you got it!
So, start changing your mindset about money today! You’re worth more than you think (seriously).
Financial Goal #9. Read the top personal finance books.
Check. Well, sorta. Only because I believe that learning is continuous and there’s always going to be more books that I want to read.
(This post contains affiliate links to only products and/or services that I love and believe in. Finsavvypanda.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees, at no extra costs to you, by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)
For those who just started, these are my favorite books that helped me get into financial shape:
Financial Goal #10. Automate your savings.
Whatever comes into my savings account, less my automated investing, is… well, basically my savings. This leftover in “savings” is either my emergency or spending fund.
I should probably think of automating a sub account called my emergency fund. Now that’s a bright idea, isn’t it?
Financial Goal #11. Automate your bills.
I used to automate some, but since reading I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, I automated everything (or at least whatever I can).
I can honestly say this has made my life soooo much easier because I don’t have to worry about which bill is due, or which bill is coming up. Not to mention, it saves a lot of time!
But of course, I still scroll through my statements each month to make sure everything is correct.
Though, I have to say that the setup process at the beginning can get frustrating and annoying.
For example, when I logged into each of my accounts, I was clicking through links to see where I can automate my payments. To my surprise, some required calling customer service to have this done!
Despite the initial hassle, it’s worth investing the time to get your bills automated.
Financial Goal #12. Automate investing.
I enrolled in a monthly automatic investing plan with my TFSA and RRSP accounts. I set aside a proportion of my paycheck to invest in a few index funds.
Set it and forget it, right?
On top of that, I would occasionally save up a lump sum to purchase single stocks that I believe in. Although I’m manually investing in this area, I treat it as my “play” money. This is what I enjoy doing for fun – just like how some enjoy buying $500 shoes for fun. We all value things differently, so nothin’ wrong wit dat, right?
Anyway, similar to automating your savings and bills, automating your investments make your life easier.
Instead of manually paying your bills, and depositing money into your savings or investment accounts, you can focus more of your time on income-producing activities. That is educating yourself by reading (you gain knowledge), or taking on a side hustle – seriously.
Financial Goal #13. Write a 5 year financial plan.
Lol! Does saving and planning for retirement today count? No?
Oh, okay… then I failed here.
I mean, I have a general picture of what I want in the next three to five years, but I haven’t planned any of this in detail.
My closest and and most successful plan is having at least a year’s worth of emergency fund. I always thought: “Well, I’ll have a year to figure out how I can get by financially. If all else fails, what’s the worst that can happen, right?”
But after reading goal #13 from Personal Finance Junkie’s list, I think it’s a good idea to create a five-year financial plan.
After all, Sir Winston Churchill once said: “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”
Not to say that you’ll fail for not having a five-year financial plan, but it doesn’t hurt to have one.
Financial Goal #14. Start maxing out your retirement account every year.
Check. Well, sorta.
Before purchasing the house three years ago, I was committed to maxing out both my RRSP and TFSA. But after taking out the money and using it towards the down payment, I basically had to start from scratch again.
With that said, I will max my RRSP account (as of now a year’s worth of room) by the end of this year. Idk, is that considered a check?
Financial Goal #15. Complete your emergency fund so you have at least 6 months’ expenses saved.
As mentioned above, my aim is to have at least a year’s worth of emergency fund. But again, everyone is different and it’s just a matter of preference.
Need help with building your emergency fund? Get started here!
Looks like I scored 11.5 out of 15.
Thanks, Personal Finance Junkie for this checklist!
And thanks, J. Money for finding her checklist!
Overall, how did you guys do? What’s your score?
If you didn’t score what you’ve hoped for, don’t be bummed about it. The good thing is, you now know where you need to improve, so work on those areas! Just remember to take it one step at a time.