For many of us, New Year’s resolutions often vanish in a couple of weeks. But, even if you’ve resolved before and failed, your personal finances deserve the re-commitment.
Resolution-keeping starts with good resolution-making. Here are 5 great resolution ideas to get you excited for the New Year:
- Identify your goals before planning your attack. Make realistic, attainable goals. Unclear goals produce ambiguous resolutions. And grandiose goals tempt early resignation. Develop a specific action plan and establish genuine confidence that this is the year you’ll see your resolutions through.
- Start tracking your spend each month before committing to a budget. For one month write down every cent you spend: rent/mortgage, utilities, food, gas, clothes, cable, insurance, 401(k) contributions, entertainment – everything. Then, use this information to develop a budget that you will and actually can stick to.
- Fast-track debt payoff goals. Not all debt is equal. Make a list of your liabilities and organize them by the annual interest rate. Those with the highest rates (most likely your credit cards) should be paid off ASAP. Determine how much you can realistically afford to pay during the year, and try your hardest not to charge additional purchases on those cards while you're trying to pay down what you owe.
- Cut back on bad money habits. Buy less coffee. Reduce the amount of drinks you buy out. Cook in instead of take out. Food/beverage costs can be a big budget buster. Instead of setting the goal of "cutting down" or "buying less," make it quantifiable. If you currently buy five cups of coffee a week, try cutting it down to one a week as a treat.
- Automate good habits. While you’re feeling motivated, up your savings game by increasing your retirement plan contribution, or automatically deposit a portion of your paycheck into a separate savings account.
Making financial resolutions makes you feel good. Keeping those resolutions feels a lot better. Think of resolutions as marathons, not 100-yard dashes. Prepare for long-term money habits that position you for success for not just one, but many years to come!