New Year’s Resolutions: easy to make, not so easy to keep – especially if yours is to improve your financial health.
So to start 2018 off with a bang, here are 18 tips to help you reach your money goals.
- Visualize your “why.” Why is it important for you make changes to your financial habits? Whatever it may be, write it down and place it where you see it daily to stay inspired and focused.
- Collect all your financial documents from last year. Review your bank, loan, and/or credit card statements to get a full understanding of where you currently are financially.
- Set a budget. Using your statements, build a monthly or biweekly budget for yourself that includes all your income and expenses during that time period.
- Track your spending for 30 days. Write down everything (yes, everything) you spend money on for one month. After doing so, identify at least one area where you want to focus on cutting back.
- Create a financial calendar. Marked down all important dates to avoid forgetting due dates and being charged late fees. Note other annual events as well, such as requesting a free credit report.
- Request a copy of your credit report. You’re entitled to a free copy yearly from the three credit bureaus, so make a reminder in your calendar to request a different one every four months.
- Write down a “bite-sized” money goal. Identify a realistic goal you can achieve within the next six months so that you can build your confidence towards reaching your long-term financial goals.
- Open a savings account in a separate location from your checking account. Keeping savings separate makes it less tempting to transfer money back to your checking account.
- Contribute to savings regularly. Set up a small, automatic transfers to your savings account and slowly build up the contribution amount every few months.
- Find a financial buddy. Talking about money isn’t always easy or fun, but it is important to find a friend who can hold you accountable, encourage you, and celebrate your successes.
- Check in with your partner about shared financial goals. Sit down with your partner and talk intentionally about your money situation. Commit to a financial plan together.
- Make an appointment with a financial counselor. Speaking with an expert can help you develop a strong action plan. Check out LSS Financial Counseling, if you haven’t already.
- Meet with the Human Resources department at your workplace to review benefits. If applicable, check in with your employer’s human resources representative to see what is offered and what steps to take to use your benefits most efficiently.
- Choose a spending mantra. Think of a phrase or friendly reminder to yourself to cut back on impulse spending. For example, I can only buy one if I can afford to buy two.
- Use the 10% rule to cut spending on one item in your budget. Identify one item in your budget you can cut spending on by 10%. If you spend $50, how can you cut it to $45?
- Limit your email subscriptions to stores. Unsubscribing from most store newsletters can reduce the temptation to spend on something you don’t need because it’s “a good deal.”
- Evaluate value based on cost per use. It is more beneficial to spend $50 on an everyday item than $15 on something you may use once or twice.
- Identify your “payday loan alternative.” Whether you’d ask a family member or friend for money, use a personal loan, savings, or another option- be sure you choose an option other than a payday loan.
Bad habits are hard to break and good habits are even harder to build – give yourself time and space to learn and grow this year. We hope you and yours enjoy financial security, stability, and growth in 2018. Cheers!
Money Management E-Newsletter: January 2018