6 Things to Do Before 2019 Ends to Improve Your Financial Health

2019 is almost over and for many, the year just flew by so quickly and it felt like there was hardly any time to accomplish their goals they set for themselves at the start of the year. At the beginning of 2019, I had set out some goals that I haven’t achieved and some that I was able to. Just before 2020 rolls around, people will start setting new goals and ways to achieve their targets throughout the year. I hope to provide my perspective on how you can ensure that you start 2020 on a positive note.

  1. Sign up to Pension scheme – If you don’t have a pension plan at work, consider signing up for a private pension scheme offered by many of the financial institutions in the market. You should look at the proposed returns, how long that company has been operating a pension scheme, which institutions and groups have their pensions with them and speak to your friends and co-workers about how transparent and customer-oriented they are before making a choice. Pensions are a great way to save for your retirement with their tax advantages and higher interest rates than commercial banks. Check out this article in the Business Daily on the pension scheme providers in Kenya.
  2. Open a Stock trading account – This is a little biased to my experience growing up as my parents have been investing in the stock market for the past 10 years. The stock market is a great way to be an active participant in the market and it’s an accessible vehicle to build wealth, if the person is disciplined and can make logical decisions about when to buy and sell. To be able to do all of this though you have to have a CDS (Central Depository & Settlement) account. You should identify  a stock broker and let them create an account for you. However, before you put a dime into the market, please educate yourself. Buying and selling stock is just as dangerous as gambling if you don’t have a solid understanding of the basics of investment, you may as well go to the casino and try your luck there.
  3. Commit to a savings goal –  This year in March I committed to saving 50,000 this year. It was a very unrealistic goal at the time as I had only just completed two weeks in an internship with no real promise of a job after its end. Luckily, I managed to find a job where I get to learn and improve my skills everyday and the rest just came naturally. I committed to saving every month and with an extra income from some side hustles, I was able to achieve this goal one month early. The lesson here is to set a goal and be disciplined about it. I tracked this through the year on my board of goals and it was great to see the progress I made on that.

    Goal Board.jpg
    My list of goals for 2019 and I have had to re-work some of them but putting them down on paper has transformed the way I think about measuring these goals and being accountable for them.
  4. Stop bad (and money draining) habits – I used to smoke cigarettes for a long time (on and off) and it became really bad last year. What is really dumb about this habit is that I am asthmatic – which basically means I have trouble breathing, so smoking is a big no-no. I decided to go cold turkey just before I started my internship in February and it was HARD. I was unbearably cranky for those two weeks but I persevered. Later on in the year, I suffered a number of asthma attacks as my lungs “adapted” to this change which was a little inconvenient at work but I got through it. The extra money I saved from not smoking helped my financial health and my physical health. If you have any bad habits, like indulging in one drink too many, you can try ditching it now and by the time 2020 starts, you will be ready and hopefully have a little more in your pocket.
  5. Start learning something you have always wanted to – I wanted to learn a lot of things in the past 2 years since graduating from university. It mainly centered around learning a new language (it took me a while to choose between re-learning French OR starting Spanish or Mandarin), a musical instrument (choosing between the ukulele and guitar was hard), and a technical skill around computers. Earlier this year I began learning Mandarin and for a number of reasons I had to stop. I learnt a few phrases that I still remember but nothing to really write about. I had always wanted to learn to “code” but never got around to committing to learning for more than 2 weeks. Then in September, I came across a series of courses on Coursera on learning Python – Python for Everybody. I decided to start it with no real goal in mind, other than to start. I really enjoyed the first course (and completed it) and moved on to the next one.I just started learning so I won’t be able to translate what I’ve learnt to my job just yet. However, I learnt other concepts that relate to tools that I use on a daily basis and that learning is paying dividends already. Learning something new is hard and it seems impossible but once you get over that initial fear, you get to feel excited about learning something new and that is a beautiful feeling. I wish to feel that every day and I hope you can too by trying to learn something you’ve always wanted. Besides, if you don’t like it, you can move onto something else. Education never goes to waste!
  6. Do a Lifestyle Audit – This is the hardest thing to do and therefore I’ve left it as the last point. What I mean by lifestyle audit, is look at everything in your life as it is right now. Your relationship with others, your spending habits, what you think of yourself, the way you think about things. This self-examination means you have to reflect deeply, and sometimes it’s not something you want to do to yourself but it will have the biggest effect on you. We live in times that force us to buy things to impress people, think lowly of ourselves because of how others in our position portray themselves on social media. It’s a hard time to be able to think positively about ourselves. I blame a little bit of on this social media and a lot of it on human nature. It’s hard for anyone to see someone of a similar background doing so much better than you. But we never get to see the struggle and work those people put in.A lifestyle audit can help us find the thought patterns that make us feel inferior and the way we treat money to make us feel good ourselves. This can help us cut these behaviors out and be more mindful about how we spend our money. I have felt these feelings of insecurity before (and I’m sure they will creep in again) and I realized that I just had to confront them head on. I suggest that you speak to someone who can hear you out without feeling they’re judging you. It can be a friend, a partner, a parent or a professional. We need much less stuff than we have and sometimes when we have less stuff that can be really good for us mentally. Actually, I think having less stuff will almost always be good for us mentally.

I hope these tips can help you start your 2020 off in an amazing fashion and I hope to work on a few of these again. Chinese for Beginners, I am coming for you! Please engage with me and share your tips of how you plan on starting 2020 with a bang!

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