Mid-year reflection – A perfect time to reassess your new year’s resolutions?
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Given the uncertainty that pervades as a result of Covid-19, it is very easy to fall into a trap of “living in the moment” rather than focusing on long-term goals and more considered approaches.
Where people might have previously taken the time to weigh up all options before deciding, whether it be at home, work or in terms of their purchases, they might find themselves going for the quickest or easiest option to address what they regard as the most pressing need.
Panic-buying, for example, is a very real phenomenon.
Uncertainty tends to do that, and to an extent it is understandable in light of the pandemic.
However, regardless of what has happened, life goes on and we will need to learn to live with the “invisible enemy”, which means reverting back to tried-and-tested practices that have worked before.
The middle of the year is a good time to step back and assess where we are.
We can ask ourselves whether the goals we had in mind at the start of the year still hold true, and if not, why this has been the case?
If we still want to achieve these goals, then taking the time to plan properly will certainly be a worthwhile exercise.
By eliminating rash or ill-considered decisions and being responsible, people are able to minimise risk and benefit at the end of the day.
Craig Lubbe, the CEO of South African internet auction and online marketplace bidorbuy, cannot emphasise the importance of responsibility in purchasing enough.
“During our biggest annual shopping event, Black Friday, we communicate the importance of responsible spending to all our registered buyers,” he says.
“These include common sense tips such as setting a spending limit (and sticking to it), and doing research in advance to identify the items that people most want. In this way, shoppers can avoid getting distracted and buying items they may not need or be able to afford.”
While bidorbuy wants to help sellers grow their online businesses, it also recognises that it has obligations towards buyers when it comes to encouraging responsible online shopping behaviour.
“At any given time, one or more ecommerce sites will be running sales or promotions. While we recognise that online shopping is an enjoyable pastime for people – especially during times when other leisure options are limited – our advice would always be to use sales to save money on items you were looking at before the sale, rather than buying items simply because they’re on sale. In this way, buyers can enjoy the satisfaction of grabbing a bargain, without stressing about having spent more than they can afford,” Lubbe says.
Claire Buchanan is a Professional Certified Coach who has witnessed first-hand what uncertainty can do to people.
“People can feel stuck or not have the confidence to move forward,” she says.
“However, people can get past this. As I coach, I facilitate a conversation with my client which is goal directed and future focused. I create the space for a client to think and share openly. I also challenge their thinking so that they uncover more of themselves in the process and determine their own best way forward.”
One of her effective strategies is to break down the “big and scary” long-term goals into more manageable short-term goals.
“We create milestones and attach timings to them, which is all in support of the long-term goal. It also serves the purpose of measuring progress.”
Buchanan says people should be mindful of their mental and emotional well-being which extends to self-care and stress management.
“We would all benefit from taking better care of ourselves so that we can be our best and can perform at our best. Too often people underestimate the importance of physical activity, nutrition, rest and social connection.”
Wynand Gouws, a certified financial practitioner and wealth manager, says some valuable insights about current consumer behaviour can be drawn from the annual Old Mutual Saving and Investment monitor.
“It shows 63 % of consumers are constantly concerned about losing their job, 57% of consumers were impacted negatively by Covid-19, and the income of everyone from blue collar workers to executives was affected,” he says.
“In order to make ends meet consumers have had to dip into savings, hold off on paying household bills and cashed in their savings. But it is important for people to understand there are two critical coping mechanisms to not only survive a crisis, but also to achieve financial freedom - understand your income and expenses and understand your financial freedom plan.”
Gouws says any financial plan should start with a budget.
“Don’t procrastinate, take a piece of paper or open Excel and start. Jot down all your expenses and look at your bank statement for the last year to see if you missed anything. You should identify your highest essential expenses, and also your discretionary expenses. Then you can start working through them critically to see where you can save.”
Gouws advises that when it comes to buying essential items, people should always shop around and compare prices. They should also use loyalty points and programmes and buy in bulk where possible.
“For luxury items, don’t buy these on credit. Use online portals to get the best deal and negotiate. The price on the tag is not always the best price.”