1.  Create a budget and a financial plan for the year.
Create a budget and a financial plan for the year and do this early enough. Your budget and financial plan for the year is your guide. Without a guide, you cannot measure performance. With your plan, you can check compliance and areas you have deviated from your plan.
If you haven’t made a financial plan yet, it is not too late to do that. Everyone needs a simple ‘cash budget’. This is a budget that will show your expected cash inflow and planned outflow for a specified budget period (for a month, quarter or year). With this, you will be able to tell your cash position at any point in time. You can also take this further by encouraging those close to you to keep a budget, as this will help you  jointly stick to your plans. As part of your 2018 financial plan, set a savings and a spending target for yourself. This way, all of your expected funds will already have an assignment and not remain idle. There is a popular saying that ‘the devil finds work for the idle person’….That devil is also eager to find work for your idle funds.

2.Enlarge your knowledge of financial issues
It is important to educate yourself on activities in the financial market. We all cannot be gurus and experts but we can have basic knowledge that will steer us in the right direction. Subscribe to valuable newsletters and set time aside to periodically review these. Watch Government decisions and have your ears close to the financial market.

3. Keep good financial records
To be in control of your finances in 2018, you must keep good records. You need good records as they form the basis for good trail for tracking and analysing performance against your financial plan. Good records are very essential for managing Fixed deposit investments with banks. Ensure you have documents to back up all your investment transactions with banks and take note of key dates. Keeping a tab on these dates also means you can proactively plan for maturing investments and negotiate for good rates early. With your records, you can also  make periodic review of your bank transactions and pick up anomalies early. All these will help you achieve your goal of financial excellence and success.

4. Take Financial decisions promptly
If an investment opportunity opens up or when considering an investment, avoid procrastination and take decisions promptly. This does not mean you should take decisions without having full information. You must ensure you have answers to all your questions. However, once all the necessary information is available, take your decisions promptly. Many have paid dearly for taking late decisions.

5. Know your worth
Many people do not have a good knowledge of their worth. In order to have financial excellence in 2018, you must draw up a personal Balance sheet. How much are you worth? What are your assets and liabilities? What do you have and what do you owe? Undertaking an exercise to know what you are worth will also help you know which assets are growing or depleting and point you towards taking the right decisions. Who do you owe? Take a review and ensure you settle indebtedness on time to avoid increase in your liability. Bank loans, Government taxes etc must be properly settled to avoid exposures that may result in financial penalties.

6.    Retirement plans
The best time to plan for life after active work is from day one! Our active years are meant to provide for both the active and non-active years. No matter how long you have been working or running your business, approach 2018 with the knowledge that someday, you have to stop working. This knowledge will guide your financial decisions and ensure you make proper plans for long term investments that will finance your requirements in retirement. Whatever your situation may be, saving and investing money today is better than waiting until tomorrow. Start now.

7.    Diversify your portfolio
What are you worth in Landed Property, stocks, cash and otherwise?. Is your portfolio properly diversified? Are there assets that can be pooled to earn better yield?  Financial excellence requires that you do not put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your investments wisely to enable you spread your risks and take advantage of various sources of income. Be conscious of the fact that you can have variety of options even within an investment option. Eg Stocks, what mix of shares should you invest in as a player in the capital market?  If you need help with taking the right decisions with managing your investment portfolio, be ready to spend some money for expert advise. Even though such payment may initially deplete your finances, in the long run, you will be better off.

8.    Take care of your health
Set a target to take care of your health. Health is the greatest wealth. Illnesses are expensive especially if you run your own business. It is better to limit Business shut-down period or absences by proactively deciding to stay healthy. 3 key pieces of advice to meet this target- eat healthy, be physically active and attend to signs of illnesses early. Many have almost lost their lives by procrastinating seeking medical attention. Be knowledgeable about your health too. Your capability to make money or grow on the job depends on your being healthy and alive!!!

***Bimbo Komolafe FCA, FCIB writes from Lagos and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers.

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