How to Reach Your Financial Goals in 2023

In the current economic landscape, many of us are searching for new ways to make and save money. Our ideal lifestyle, if we aren’t living it already, can seem far from achievable at a time like this. But a bleak economy isn’t the time to throw away good financial habits or ditch goals. Eventually, things will mellow out. 

As you evaluate your circumstance, think about the life you want to live. Put ego aside, and don’t think about what you should gain to impress others or prove them wrong; dig deep and discover what it is you truly want. Start with a broad picture: what does your ideal career look like? You could seek opportunities to deepen your professional practice, such as fellowships and internships (which aren’t just for grads anymore.) You could also pivot altogether. How about your life at home — what does that look and feel like? Perhaps there are things or people you want to make more time for. 

In a recent article for ELLE, Ann Friedman discusses career-driven women’s ambitions shifting due to burnout and priorities changing. Even the most motivated are now seeking roles that allow a suitable work–life balance, as opposed to a vanity title or more money, according to Friedman. Maybe 2023 is the year you redefine what’s important and how you do things. If it seems fun, create a vision board, write goals in a journal, or do a year-end review. 

Through account histories, invoices, contracts, and even memory, list all the ways you made money last year and where you spent it most. There should be some expenses you can cut back on, like impulse purchases, which is why setting spending limits is useful.

Establish your own personal cap on entertainment, takeout, and memberships. These are all monthly expenses that don’t seem like much at first, but can quickly add up. For me, when a takeout order reaches a certain amount, I either reduce the number of items I’m ordering, or I look for another restaurant to order from. Also, frequently shopping for clothes or other home items is an unnecessary indulgence. We don’t need as much as capitalism wants us to buy. But we may acquire those things to fill a sense of lack, like for social status, but there will always be a desire for more. To break the habit, a change in mindset is necessary. If you tap into how items make you feel long-term, you can create a fulfilling life by only surrounding yourself with representations of joy, which makes you feel abundant.

With that said, tackle your debt sustainably. As you work your way from the smallest debt to the largest, don’t focus on repayment without saving or investing. Personal finance expert Tiffany Aliche argues that debt freedom doesn’t build wealth. As Aliche puts it in her blog, “I’ve seen how a hyper-focus on debt (combined with zero focus on wealth-building) can lead to devastating consequences down the road. You know, like when you’re ready to retire and kick your feet up, but you can’t because you’re not in the position to stop working? … I created a moderate debt payoff plan for my large, low-interest student loan debt (basically paid the minimum due monthly) … and then used my excess cash to learn, earn and grow wealth via my business, The Budgetnista.”

Practical Wealth-building

Personal finance experts suggest creating separate accounts for everything: bills, types of savings, spending, and business. If there’s an account you’ve always wanted to open — say, an RRSP — but felt limited due to funds, this is your sign to do it anyway. Nobody said it had to be a big amount; a dollar to start works fine. Automate bill payments and savings deductions. For those with irregular paychecks, deciding on a set percentage to save from each pay helps more than having a number. Also, don’t forget to stash surprise cash windfalls to accelerate your goals.

I once heard the way to financial wealth is letting your money work for you. It’s called passive income — when you aren’t trading your time for money. Aside from managed investing, you could earn cashback with a credit card or prepaid card. Wealthsimple’s Cash app lets you choose whether to invest cashback into crypto or stocks. KOHO has a versatile card that lets you earn instant cashback. If you can afford to put a lot of money into a passive stream, like becoming a landlord, go for it. You can even rent out a parking space. 

Is one of your goals to open up a business? For us creatives who dream of making a living from our work, it can be hard to establish a viable path. Finance and travel YouTuber Sorelle Amore suggests learning effective marketing skills, and calculating how much money you need to live per month. Then, figure out how many of your creations you have to sell, or how much you have to work to achieve the daily minimum. An artistic life is possible — we just have to work smart to get there.

Lastly, lifestyle inflation will get you. The Federal Reserve is already doing that for us, why willingly spend more yourself? Keep expenses the same, and you’ll technically be fine. 

Josephine Mwanvua | Contributing Writer

Summer 2023

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