At this time of year most of us take stock of our financial position and set goals to improve our financial position in the year ahead. There are a few very simple strategies that we can all use in order to reach our financial goals in the new year that are both effective, and once implemented, are painless strategies that will improve your finances going forward.

The very first thing we need to do is be honest with ourselves about our spending habits and take stock of the money we are wasting. Never deny yourself life’s little luxuries, but do you really need them as often as you have been indulging. The easiest way of reducing your spending is:

1. Have fewer coffees at coffee shops

Invariably when you order a breakfast at a coffee shop you will order a coffee and then perhaps a second cup. By not ordering the second cup you are saving around R20.00 An interesting exercise is to actually keep the slips of every time you go out for something to eat or drink during the working day and add it up at the end of the week/month. You will be amazed at how much you are spending.

If you make yourself a sandwich or take leftovers to work for lunch, you will immediately be staying out of the coffee shops and saving a lot of money.

2. Shop around before you buy and avoid impulse purchases

Impulse purchases are one of the greatest wastes of money. Avoid popping a bag of sweets or a magazine into your trolley while waiting in the queue.

Shop online or compare prices at different retailers before you go shopping.

Avoid buying cooked meals, cook at home, it’s easier than you thing. Visit for some easy recipes that are designed for busy working people.

Do you really need that new pair of shoes or are you feeling sorry for yourself and feel some retail therapy will make you feel better. Remember, there is always a downer after the initial high and when you really need something you will regret that impulse purchase.

3. Save for those unexpected big ticket purchase

Put away money every month in a savings product that will give you access to cash in unexpected situations. Perhaps your fridge gives up on you or your washing machine has to be replaced. Have access to funds that don’t require you to finance things. Short term debt is extremely expensive.

4. Reduce your short term debt

Commit to reducing your short term debt as quickly as possible. Credit cards and retail credit purchases are very expensive and the sooner you pay these off the better. perhaps the best thing about paying them off is that the payments you have been making you are used to, now put some of that away and plan for your financial future.

The best gift you can give yourself this year is to invest your money wisely and plan for your future by consulting a good financial adviser, setting out a financial plan and securing yourself a healthy financial position.