What are your New Year resolutions?

new-years-resolution-listIt is that time of the year again, a time to reflect on 2013 and to start coming up with New Year resolutions for 2014. Will it be to exercise more? Start on a new diet? Or maybe to take a six-month vacation to the Bahamas, although that is more of a pipe dream than a resolution.

With higher costs of living in store for Malaysians next year, perhaps a money resolution to improve your finances should be higher up on your list of priorities.

“Consumers should do extra work to manage their finances properly. They have to practise increased financial responsibility in balancing big expenses, such as credit card bills, housing loans and car loans.

“They should also do price comparisons and the relevant homework to get the best value for their money,” said Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj to The Star.

Formulating resolutions (or goals) can be a daunting process because it often involves facing hard truths about yourself, whether you like it or not. Even if your 2013 resolutions failed to materialise, do not be disheartened; it just means you need to come up with better and more realistic resolutions for 2014. Here’s how you can make SMART resolutions for the New Year:

S – Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Making a resolution to save money is a broad and ambiguous goal. Instead, specify how much you want to save by the end of 2014.

M – Come up with measurable goals. Identify and come up with a plan on how much you need to save a month to achieve the specified amount by end of the year.

A – Set attainable goals. If you are earning RM3,000 a month, it will be extremely tough to save up RM300,000 in cash by the end of 2014. Small attainable goals are sometimes better than big goals that are impossible to achieve.

R – Be realistic. Saving the entire amount of your monthly income is an example of an unrealistic goal.

T – Be strict with the timing that you’ve set for yourself. If you’ve resolved to save RM20,000 by December 31, 2014, make sure you achieve that goal even if it means setting aside more money (reasonable amount) every month.

This year, instead of telling you what money resolutions you should make, we at iMoney are going to share some of our resolutions for 2014:

Save to invest

“Saving is under-rated, because it seems like the most obvious thing to do when it comes to personal finance management. This coming year, I’m putting away more at the beginning of every month. It might seem too simplistic for some, but many worthy investment opportunities require capital accumulation first.”

Lee Ching Wei, group CEO & co-founder, iMoney

Create or update your investment plan

“It’s never too early to start an investment plan. I’ve resolved to always review my investment plan according to my stage in life, time horizon and risk appetite. By doing this periodically in 2014, I expect to maintain my investment’s diversification and take full advantage of prevailing market trends.”

Bruno Araujo, group CRO & co-founder, iMoney

It’s not impossible to beat inflation

“In 2014, I will diligently make shorter term investments and not let my savings sit in bank accounts. It’s not impossible to beat inflation, and I am ready to battle the rising cost of living next year.”

Jason Kon, Country CEO, iMoney

Take year-end tax planning seriously

“I want to make it a point to consider the tax benefits available before making any financial decision. By considering the tax benefits, contributions to tax-advantaged accounts can be increased and investment decisions can be made based on the amount of tax reliefs offered. It doesn’t hurt to take advantage of the tax relief on publications and personal computer too. Who would mind new books or a new laptop?”

Edmund Kwok, group CTO, iMoney 

Get the nest egg in shape

“I want to get my retirement plan in order by the end of 2014. The earlier I save for my retirement the better but having no idea which country I might be in when I retire, I will have to find an international retirement plan that is able to support me no matter where I move.”

Georgiy Onyschuk, head of online marketing, iMoney 

Finally make use of the flexibility in a flexi home loan

“I would like to inculcate a habit of making extra repayments on my flexi home loan to shorten the loan tenure and save on interest. My plan is to pay 20% more on my monthly repayment for a RM400,000 loan with a 30-year term at 4.20% interest rate. By the end of 2014, I would have shortened the term by about two years and eight months and saved about RM42,000 on interest!”

Jacq Chow, head of mortgage, iMoney.my

Shop around more when it comes to financial products

“I want to spend more time doing research and compare financial products next year. This will help me get lower interest rates on credit cards and loans or even leverage on bank promotions, such as fee waivers.”

Darren Chhan, business development manager, iMoney.my

Save for emergency without getting derailed by emergencies

“Financial experts often advise us to create an emergency fund equal to 12 months’ living expenses. But let’s not be extreme and aim for at least three month’s worth of our monthly income by December 31, 2014.”

Iris Lee, editor, iMoney.my

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it,” said Goethe, a German philosopher.

Make at least one financial resolution next year and resolve to make it a reality. But first, resolve to begin. Resolve to be bold when it comes to taking control of your financial future.


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