JOHANNESBURG - The chances are that those New Year's resolutions to save more, eat better and exercise have fizzled out. That’s the problem with making impulse decisions when you are full of New Year bonhomie, rather than making concrete plans you’ve thought through and intend to stick to. 

If you are serious about the financial and lifestyle goals you’ve set and are committed to achieving them, the important thing is to get into the habit of meeting them.

The goals you set will depend on your circumstances, but Hollard has four recommendations that you might want to include on your 2018 list:

1. I want to invest and save money so I can feel more secure about my future

When learning any skill, it is best to start young, and investing is no different. The earlier you begin planning for retirement, the greater the potential return on your investment. There are many other goals you’ll want to save for along the way: your first car or home, your child’s education, a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Whatever your goal, make saving a way of life and obtain professional advice.

2. I want my loved ones to be taken care of when I am no longer around

If you have financial obligations and a family who rely on you, the preparations you make ahead of time will define the legacy you leave them. A life assurance policy gives you peace of mind that your family will be taken care of financially if you’re not around to do so yourself. A will (that correlates with the instructions you’ve left in your policy) makes sure the funds you’ve left will reach the intended beneficiaries. If you have minor children, a trust means that financial decisions will be left in the hands of people you know you can rely on to do what’s in your children’s best interests. Setting up a trust is part of estate planning, and is best done with the guidance of a professional financial adviser.

3. I want to protect my quality of life if I am disabled or seriously ill

Few people consider the implications of a serious illness or an accident that may leave them disabled and unable to earn an income for themselves and their family. Most long-term or permanent disabilities that can prevent you from working again do not result from accidents but from critical illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.    

4. I want to be proactive about my health so I can live life to the fullest

It all comes down to knowledge and, where possible, prevention. We can reduce the risk of contracting a serious illness, such as cancer or Type II diabetes, by adopting a healthy lifestyle and going for health checks regularly, but even healthy and fit people can face challenges. The point is to live well and be proactive about your health and make sure that, if a health crisis does arise, you have a financial plan in place to help you deal with it effectively.

Whatever your life plans or ambitions, being financially fit is one goal everyone wants to achieve, and it makes sense to involve a professional who has the experience and expertise to help. A financial adviser will work with you to understand where you are now in terms of your finances and obligations and where you want to be and will compile a financial plan to take you there. 

Whether you have a financial adviser or need to find one, setting up an appointment to discuss the way forward is one New Year's resolution you’ll definitely want to keep.