If you are like me, and many other Kenyans around me, then I am sure when the year began, you sat down and scribbled a list of goals you would like to achieve this year.
Be it enrolling for therapy for your mental health, saving up to buy something you have been eying for a long time but you never seem to have ‘enough’ money, or going back to school to finally get that degree after making excuses for not having ‘enough’ money, or even in the long term, starting to plan your retirement, financially.
Whatever goal you set for yourself for 2022, its success, in one way or another, boils down to your money management skills. How are you ensuring your money is ‘enough’ to cater to your basic needs, and still have some more to cater to your goals, especially the financial ones?
As we approach the end of the first half of the year, here are 10 signs you are making good financial progress so far in 2022:
Whether we like it or not, emergencies are bound to happen, time and again. You might wake up one day and find the infamous Nairobi flu has you or your family member in a chokehold, and thus begins a series of hospital visits. Or, your car might develop some mechanical faults you had not anticipated after getting involved in a small accident.
Has your school-going child come back one evening and announced that there is an impromptu school trip that they MUST attend?
You are making good financial progress if you are able to solve these financial emergency situations without breaking a sweat, without having many sleepless nights, or rather, without plunging yourself into debt.
This means you have built a strong enough emergency fund, which allows you to draw from it, and gives you time to look for more money, in case you need it.
Having minimal to zero debt essentially shows that one, you are living within or below your means, two, you have a fully functional emergency fund, and finally, you are sticking to your budget.
Clearing your debts, especially those with high-interest rates, ensures you save money on interest and free up money you can put into savings which eventually go to investments.
Having a guaranteed source of income, whether employment, running a business, or freelancing, means your bills get paid on time, enabling you to stay within your budget, ensuring you are saving, and minimizing your chances of running into debt.
It is common financial advice that you can only ‘afford’ an item if you can comfortably pay for an item, three times its price. So, for instance, if you want to buy a dining chair for Ksh7,000 shillings, you should be at a point in your financial life where you can comfortably part with Ksh21,000 shillings for the same chair. Otherwise, it is out of your budget range.
This assumption is not only limited to the power of purchasing but also to living life normally.
For instance, if you abruptly lost your job today, or your business unfortunately burnt down today, for how long can you carry on with your ‘normal’ lifestyle?
I mean, paying your house rent, fueling your car, paying school fees, buying food, etc?, before starting to make changes like maybe moving to a smaller and cheaper house, opting to use public transport, and transferring your children to cheaper schools?
If you can go for at least 3 months without incorporating any changes in your lifestyle, then you are making good financial progress. It shows you have/had an active emergency fund, and you were diligently saving up when you still had a guaranteed source of income.
If you follow the 50/30/20 budgeting rule religiously, then you can afford to effortlessly save every month, which translates into you building a stronger emergency fund, and drawing yourself further away from debt and impulse buying.
Read Also: What are the 3 Methods of Saving?
Some bills, when not paid on time, may accrue penalties. Case in point, most rental houses in Nairobi have the 5th of every month as the deadline to pay rent, failure to which you may start accruing penalties.
The same case applies to insurance covers. If you fail, for instance, to pay your medical insurance on time, you might end up losing a chance to use it when you desperately need it.
However, if you are at a point in life when all your bills are paid in time, some are deducted automatically from your bank account, then you are making good financial progress.
Having enough money to pay your bills on time shows you’re living within your means and managing your money well.
It is never too early to begin saving for retirement. Saving regularly towards retirement ensures you’ll have a stable and guaranteed source of income when you finally stop working. It’s better to save early and give your money a chance to grow, rather than waiting closer to retirement age.
Saving for retirement requires you to answer difficult questions like, how long do you think you will live? What do you think the inflation rate is going to be like in the future? What lifestyle do you want to lead in your retirement?
Starting to save for retirement as early as now ensures you can easily and quickly hit your retirement financial goals.
If your net worth is increasing, it means you have minimal or zero debt, you have invested in more assets than liabilities, and your quality of life has generally improved.
Your net worth represents the total value of your assets after your liabilities have been subtracted out. This can be a perfect way to keep track of how close you are to reaching a financial goal since you can see results as you reduce liabilities and increase your assets.
Read Also: How to Go Broke in Under a Year
If you are at a point in life when you can cater to all your financial obligations such as saving money, spending within your budget, paying off debt, and giving to charity, it’s a sign that you are making good progress, financially.
When you know how much you spend on things, you ultimately know where your money goes. This only happens when you have at least an outline of a budget and update it at least once a quarter.
Budgeting and tracking your spending is one of the keys to avoiding impulse spending which tends to spur people into debt.
Read Also: The Ultimate Personal Budgeting Guide
Although the above points are good to keep you on track with your financial goals, it is important to note that none of these happens overnight. As it is with all good things, it takes time to finally get to a point where you can sit with yourself and acknowledge that you are making good financial progress.
It is good practice, also, to keep track of your progress, so that you do not miss even the smallest of strides.