By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
She is on a journey to becoming financially fit this year, and the ‘242 Financialista’ wants to take as many Bahamian women as possible along with her on the journey.
Many people may have started this year dragging their feet due to overindulging financially during the holidays. But with a full 12 months to go there is enough time to get on solid financial footing. It may mean taking stringent action, tightening up spending and budgeting for just about everything.
Staying on top of one’s goals will require prioritisation and a whole lot of discipline. Ava Nicole Smith, the ‘242 Financialista’ blogger, is back to give our readers some tips as to how you can stay on top of your game in 2019.
“In the process of making myself better, I’m passionate about making sure that the women around me are living their best lives by securing their own financial futures,” she said. “If you want the same for your life, then I invite you to join me on this journey.”
She previously shared her expert advice and warned readers of overspending during the holidays, while also offering doable strategies to incorporate into their financial lives.
Ava has been in the financial services industry for over 10 years and holds a degree in finance along with a financial planner certification. Her longtime passion has been teaching kids about money management to increase financial literacy among the country’s youth. She recently launched her ‘242 Financialista’ blog that seeks to give people advice on how to manage their money.
Learning from past mistakes, Ava has been deliberate about changing her relationship with money and how she uses it. Now she is on a mission to teach others to do the same.
“For a long time now I’ve been interested in personal finance, budgeting, investing, securing my retirement and building generational wealth. However, my stark reality was that I wasn’t serious about personal finance. I’ve come to learn that there is a big difference between being interested and taking actions. It hit me one day that I’m pretty close to 30 and I could be much further in life,” she told Tribune Woman.
This realisation has caused Ava to be more driven about becoming debt-free and turn her focus on what really matters – securing her future.
Here are Ava’s tips for getting financially fit in 2019:
Set SMART financial goals
Write it down and make it happen. Make sure your goals are specific and measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound – in one word: SMART. Determine what’s important to you. It may be you want to purchase a home, fund a kids’ college education or save for retirement. Once the goal been determined, then breakdown your goals and see what can be done to realistically achieve them in 2019.
Create a 12-month budget forecast
Yes, it will likely change along the way, but at least your money is planned for the entire year. Make sure to consider areas that are uncommonly planned for, such as birthday gifts, Mother’s/Father’s Day gifts, anniversary celebrations, bridal/baby shower gifts, car insurance/registration or medical copays.
Set up an emergency fund
If you don’t have an immediate emergency fund of at least $1,000, find ways to save this in the first quarter before by cutting back. Oftentimes we turn to credit cards and borrowing money due to the lack of an emergency fund. Having this fund can cover emergencies such as replacing a car tyre, changing water pump, et cetera. The long-term goal should be to save a minimum three months of expenses for personal financial dilemmas.
Start a savings challenge
Grab an accountability partner and start a savings challenge. This will help you get into the habit of saving toward what you need and want.
Add up all debt and determine a way to tackle it
Not everyone has debt, but for those that do it’s important to know all balances and terms of credit cards, consumer loans, student debt, et cetera. Once you know that grand total, place in order from least to greatest and start working at it. The more debt you get rid of, the more money you can save.
Set up ‘sinking’ funds
This is a strategic way of setting aside a little bit of money each month for a big purchase like a car or an experience such as travel.
Start saving for Christmas 2019 in January
Christmas is the same day every year. Take the stress out of trying to find money at the last minute for holiday spending and start saving ahead of time. It’s easier to save $125 per month than having to come up with $1,500 all at once in December.