We’re all about to make a bunch of resolutions, from getting in shape to calling our moms more.
And most of us will resolve to fix our finances: According to a recent survey, a majority of Americans say that saving money is their most important financial goal for 2018.
Making smart decisions about your money is a big part of achieving financial independence to do what you want. These easy financial resolutions will help get you headed in the right direction. Motivating to hit the gym is on you.
RESOLVE TO GET CLEAR ABOUT YOUR GOALS
Research shows that big goals, like retiring early or buying a new house, aren’t likely to happen unless they’re clear and measurable. So start with the fun part of making a money resolution: Dreaming about all the things you want to do.
Are you saving because you want to buy a new car in a year, take a vacation or buy a new house? Are you planning to retire like a king at 50 or work as long as you can? Identify what motivates you, then get started on making that fantasy a reality.
RESOLVE TO TRACK YOUR SPENDING
An important step to staying on course financially is to know where the money is going. A few dollars for coffee here, a quick lunch there and it can be easy to lose count (and for those things to add up). Start tracking your spending. You may be surprised to see how much you’re spending on things that don’t really matter to you — and how easy it is to ditch them.
RESOLVE TO CREATE A BUDGET YOU CAN LIVE WITH
A budget shouldn’t be a bummer — or a burden. It’s as simple as figuring out how much is coming in and then where it will go each month. Say you’re spending $1,500 each month on rent and $300 on utilities. Those numbers aren’t likely to change much. But how much will you spend on going out, paying down debt (beyond your minimum payments) or saving for a vacation? With these expenses, you have some wiggle room to prioritize. Do you want to pay off debt more aggressively? Maybe you want to go out to eat at least twice a week. A budget shouldn’t be restrictive, so factor in what makes you happy so that you can enjoy today while still planning for tomorrow.
A financial planner or professional can help you work through this process.
RESOLVE TO TACKLE DEBT
If you have debt, it’s probably weighing on you. According to a recent Northwestern Mutual survey, debt is causing moderate or high anxiety for 40 percent of Americans. Resolve to make a dent in it this year. That doesn’t mean cutting out everything else to pay it down. But try to find some money to make sure you’re reducing how much you owe. Pay off debts with the highest interest rate first. And look for options to consolidate high interest debt into something with a lower rate.
RESOLVE TO BE A 1 PERCENTER
Whether it’s in your 401(k), investment account, or somewhere else that you’re stashing money for tomorrow, save 1 percent more this year than you did last. You’ll hardly even miss it. Then make the same resolution next year. Before you know it, you’ll be saving 10, 15 percent more. But because you’re doing it in small increments, you’re unlikely to even notice (except maybe when you see that growing number in your account).
RESOLVE TO SPEND MONEY ON SOMETHING YOU REALLY WANT
That’s right. Spend it. Take the vacation you’ve been putting off. Buy that dress you’ve had your eye on. Getting better with your finances is about saving for your future (see Resolution No. 5). But it’s also about spending the money you’re working so hard to earn. The trick is to clear out the clutter so that you have funds to cover the things that really matter.
Research shows that big goals, like retiring early or buying a new house, aren’t likely to happen unless they’re clear and measurable.