Simple steps to get financially fit in 2021

New Years Resolutions to help you take charge of your finances…

man jumping from 2020 cliff to 2021 cliff representing asx outlook 2021

Image source: Getty Images

Happy New Year, Fools!

Welcome to 2021.

Frankly, I’d hoped for a cleaner, COVID-Community-Transmission-free, transition from last year to this, but turns out we don’t always get what we want. How very 2020.

Speaking of which, It is worth remembering that on this day, last year, we’d kind of heard of a new respiratory virus out of China, but had no idea just what a wrecking ball it would be.

Indeed, our time and attention was taken up primarily by the threat — and reality — of bushfires, unprecedented in size, scale and ferocity, that were menacing much of the country.

Yes, I know everyone is sick of the retrospectives.

My point, though, is a slightly different one: If we didn’t know what was coming on January 1, 2020, why would you listen to forecasts for 2021?

I’ve been asked plenty of times over the past two weeks for my 2021 forecast. Each time, I politely decline, admitting that I don’t know what’s coming, and nor does anyone else.

And then I recite one of my favourite quotes, from John Kenneth Galbraith: “Pundits forecast not because they know, but because they are asked”.

(The generous questioners laugh along. I dare say more than one of them makes a mental note to ask someone else next year. Such are the occupational hazards when you’re a financial adviser.)

So, if you can’t accurately predict the future, what should you do?

The first, hopefully self-evidently, is ‘don’t try’. 

Accept that you don’t know, and move on.

The second is that you should, in the sporting and management consulting jargon, ‘control the controllables’.

In other words, stop worrying about the things you can’t control, but endeavour to do well those things you have within your area of influence.

Those are the things that can meaningfully improve your odds of investment success.

And yes, because it’s New Year’s Day, let’s call them resolutions.

And here they come.

Spoiler alert, though. Well, two, actually.

One; this list isn’t new.

Two: it’s not magic.

This list is probably best considered the ‘get rich slowly’ list.

I can offer no guarantees (legally, or morally).

But this list is, in my view, the best foundation you can have, as you continue (or start) a journey to wealth creation.

No, it can’t beat a trust fund, a lotto win, or an inheritance.

It won’t instantly lower your bills or get you a pay rise.

But it’s a list of actions and approaches that I think will put — and keep — you on the straight and narrow as you steadily build your wealth.

So here’s to 2021. And to just a little less drama than last year…

Fool on!

13 Foolish New Year’s Resolutions

To help you invest, better!

1. I will live below my means — spending less than I earn.

2. I will save money into a rainy-day fund so I’m ready for what life might bring.

3. I will pay off my credit card debt, and then only spend what I can pay off within the interest free period each month.

4. I will regularly add to my investment account.

5. I will invest money I don’t need for at least 3-5 years to build my nest egg.

6. I will learn more about investing, taking control of my financial future.

7. I will invest in quality businesses, buying a slice of the company, not just a code on a screen.

8. I will buy shares in a company with the intention of holding them for the long term.

9. I will sell when my investment thesis fails, the company is overvalued or I have a better idea.

10. I will avoid anchoring my decisions to the price I paid for my shares.

11. I will remember that the market can be moody and over-react, both on the upside and the downside.

12. I will expect volatility, and I won’t let it spook me into selling. Indeed, volatility can offer me great opportunities!

13. I will let the market offer me prices (be my servant), not dictate my mood or actions (be my master).

(Want a printable version? I’m glad you asked. Here it is!)

Wondering where you should invest $1,000 right now?

When investing expert Scott Phillips has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the flagship Motley Fool Share Advisor newsletter he has run for more than eight years has provided thousands of paying members with stock picks that have doubled, tripled or even more.*

Scott just revealed what he believes could be the five best ASX stocks for investors to buy right now. These stocks are trading at near dirt-cheap prices and Scott thinks they could be great buys right now.

*Returns as of August 16th 2021

Motley Fool contributor Scott Phillips has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

More on Motley Fool Take Stock