The normal culprits

Losing weight, getting fit, saving money are usually first on my list of resolutions. However, I have finally realised that I will still be the same plump, out-of-breath person this time next year if I do not call in the cavalry. 

By myself the diet and gym routine is not going to happen – I need the support and structure that qualified experts can give me.

In January I will therefore do the rounds with a dietician and biokinetikist to determine the best plan to tackle this seemingly impossibly high mountain.  I will also engage the services of a personal trainer that will hopefully help keep me on track with the necessary exercise program (and may he or she have a warehouse full of patience and love big challenges!). 

As part of the preparation for this life-changing plan I have booked a shopping trip with myself to get new gym clothes and trainers – not having the right gear should not be an excuse anymore.

Fixing your finances

Getting our financials in order is also one of those resolutions that appear every year on most people’s lists.  A lot of people are hesitant to take control of their finances because of the perceived complexity of money matters. 

Other people are discouraged by the seemingly impossible goal of getting ahead of all the debt and expenses.  

If achieving the goal of healthy finances eludes you year after year, then maybe it is also time that you call in the experts to help you tackle it head on.

Here’s how a certified financial planner can help you:

•    They can help you work through a spending plan or budget to determine if you are employing your hard-earned money in the most effective way, as well as the opportunity cost of any non-essential expenses.

•    A certified financial planner will help you unpack your goals for life.  This includes the mundane financial stuff such as buying a new car or retirement, but also the more life-enriching things such as studying for another qualification,  a six-month 4x4 trip into Africa or attending the next World Cup (in whatever sporting discipline takes your fancy). 

The reason why it is important to get the help of a financial planner even for the ‘soft’ goals, is that they are probably going to cost money, and will not happen unless you have a dedicated savings plan to achieve them.

•    A financial planner will help you plan for the time when you will pay your living expenses from the income generated by your investment portfolio and not your salary – we call it retirement. 

•    A financial planner will help you with your financial health check – how high is the pressure in your debt situation? What is the measurement of your risk cover (life and disability) in the event of life-changing events such as the death of a loved one or a serious illness? Can your savings withstand the financial consequences of acute emergencies?

•    With a regular review program in place, a financial planner can help you with definite checkpoints on the way to your goals to see if you are achieving them, and if not, if the are still realistic. 

I have realised that I will not be able to achieve my goal of losing weight by myself – I need an expert. But I also realise that the kind of expertise I need will cost me – however, the cost will be related to the level of support I am buying in. 

I know that I will pay a certain amount if I just want the dietician to draw up a plan for me, but I will have to fork out a lot more if I need them to hold my hand during the process.

I realise that the cost of the regular hand-holding will be directly inverse to the level (or lack thereof!) of my self-discipline: the more self-discipline I can muster, the less I will have to pay somebody to keep me in line.

The fees that an expert financial planner will charge you should be based on the same principle and, in return, the guidance you receive could be worth a fortune towards your financial goals!

May we all have a historic 2013 – when we finally make our New Years’ resolutions reality and not just dreams.     

Hesta van der Westhuizen CFP ® is a Certified Financial Planner and has a BCom-degree and Advanced Post Graduate diploma in Financial Planning Law.  She is also Chairperson of the Financial Planning Institute’s Risk committee.

Consolidated is a national financial planning practice with offices in Western Cape, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

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