2020 will be a new year in a new decade, with new opportunities and threats. As the year draws to a close, it’s time to review your 2019 financial goals and plans. So, what were your financial goals in 2019? Did you achieve them?
Look at your spending
Did you track expenses at any time during the year? Do you know where all your earned funds went to in 2019? What are your top three expense items? Did you identify them, with a view to reducing them?
What about your budgeting process?
Did you set up a budget in 2019, and follow it? Did you maintain a surplus budget during the year? What months? Why did you have a surplus— did your income go up or expenses go down? (same questions if your budget is a deficit). In terms of cost of the debt specifically, how was your debt profile in 2019? In numerical terms did your debt go up or down? Are you still maintaining high-cost debt on your balance sheet?
Look up your 2019 networth
Did you have a schedule of all your assets and liabilities broken into income-generating assets and interest-bearing liabilities? Did you become richer, i.e. did your networth rise? What made you richer—more assets or less liabilities, or both? How did you leverage your networth? Did you create multiple streams of income?
Review your retirement plan
Did you have one in 2019? Are your pension contributions enough to fund at least 50% of your expenses during retirement? Have you calculated this?
What target saving plans did you have in 2019? Did you set up an Emergency Fund, or an Educational Fund? Did you set up a long-term medical care fund?
What about your Investment Plan?
Did your portfolio beat inflation in 2019? Is your portfolio making inflation-adjusted returns? Did you sit with a professional and review your portfolio in relation with your risk profile and objectives? Did you hedge your naira portfolio with foreign currency earnings?
A review your estate plan
Did you organize and protect your assets to ensure that your named dependents remain in control of your assets without undue dissipation? Have you protected your assets and income by buying life insurance? Did you review your next of kin, and write a will?
Finally, the soft power questions
What new things did you learn in 2019? Did you go to school, or engage educative and informative opportunities to learn a new skill? What charity did you support?
These are important questions that balance out your spectrum. Privately consider and answer the questions above. Your answers will determine your 2020 financial plans.
In 2020, it’s very important that you start off with a well-designed financial plan in mind with clear goals and milestones, using the knowledge you hopefully have gained from these financial planning articles.
It’s impossible to predict the future, but it’s possible to plan by properly organizing your portfolio and having cash on hand to take advantage of opportunities that may arise.
The key drivers for personal finance in 2020, in my view, will be an increased focus on taxing consumptions, incomes and gains by Federal, State and Local Governments. This should translate to you seeking advice and employing tax mitigation practices.
Thus, you should consider reducing your taxable income by making informed decisions with money including:
- Increasing your contributions to your Retirement Savings Account (RSA) via Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVC). Penson contributions, including AVCs, are tax exempt.
- Open a new healthcare insurance account or increase your NHIS/Private Insurance coverage, as expenses incurred for medical care and insurance premiums are tax-deductible.
- Look to buying life cover or annuities as premiums paid for those policies are also tax-exempt for you and your spouse. (Yes, spouse)
- Get an employer-funded loan to buy a primary residence, as these and mortgages are also deductible. National Housing Fund (NHF) contributions are also deductible.
The great thing about all the recommendations listed to reduce your tax footprint is that they also significantly improve your overall financial position. It’s never a bad idea to save more for retirement or buy long term health care plan.
Start a business
Another strategy for 2020 is to consider starting a business. Incorporate your business idea, register a business, start small, get a partner if possible. A business also has its own tax advantages including deductions on rent paid on business premises, interest on borrowed money and repairs and maintenance expenses on business assets. Thinking aloud, register a company and transfer your personal car to the business and deduct car maintenance and upkeep as tax-deductible items.
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In conclusion, begin writing out your 2020 financial plans. A financial goal is a statement of financial intent, with figures to make it measurable, and a date to ensure we have a target to aim for. I list sample financial goals below in no order. You can edit them to suit your needs.
Goal 1: I plan to reduce my interest-bearing debt from Nxxx to Nxxx by xx 2020.
Goal 2: I plan to set up an Emergency Fund of xx-month non-discretionary expense by xxx 2020, and to cover 6 months of non-discretionary expenses by xx 2020.
Goal 3: I plan to build another source of passive income that covers xx% of my discretionary expenses by xxxx.
Goal 4: I intend to increase my retirement saving by xx% starting by xx 2020.
Goal 5: Reduce my discretionary consumption by xx% and channel savings to my investment account by xx 2020.
Goal 6: I plan to register a business by Qxx 2020 and start operations by Q xx 2020
Goal 7. Organize my assets and liabilities in a tidy, legal way, to avoid dissipation.
Goal 8: I plan to protect my income generation ability by getting insurance, and updating my next of kin.