5 Money Resolutions To Start All Through the Year
by CashTime Loan Centers
Maybe it’s the start of the new year and you feel inspired to make a change. Maybe it’s the summer and you’re not thrilled with the way your saving has been going. No matter the time or the place, many of us feel inspired to make positive changes to improve our quality of life. Finances are one of the areas where even small changes can have a huge effect, especially over time. Here are five money resolutions that, if kept, can change your financial picture for the better, no matter when you get started.
- Stick to a budget. If you know anything about getting the most out of your money, you know that the key to making it work for you (instead of the other way around) is telling every dollar what to do. That means having a budget where every dollar is allocated. Budgeting does not have to be hard! Begin by listing your income, then start deducting your expenses beginning with the necessities like rent or mortgage payments, food, gas, insurance, utilities, and phone. Continue deducting all your expenses, including debt payments, savings, and entertainment (budgeting does not have to mean you never have any fun!) until the balance reaches zero. At that point, you have given every dollar a job to do on paper. Then, live that budget! You may have to adjust a category or two, but once you start putting things down on paper, you will see exactly where your money is going, and that’s the first step to gaining control over your finances and making your money work for you. It may take a few months of adjustments to reach the budget that works best, but once you start working with a budget, you’ll be surprised at the peace of mind that will come with knowing where every dollar is going.
- Stop impulse buying. Having a budget means giving yourself boundaries. If you have $50 in your entertainment category, you’ll know if you can say yes or no to that invitation to join friends for a night out. Are they headed to the local bowling alley for beer, pizza and a few games? No problem. Your budget can handle that. A weekend trip to Vegas? Better pass on that one. However, if you want to plan a more expensive night out, you can always spend less in that category this month and add the unused portion to next month’s entertainment category. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it!
- Take on paying off debt. Got a mountain of debt? Does it seem like you’ll never get out from under it? Are you confused about where to start, how much of your budget to assign to your debt, and which type of debt repayment strategy is best? Mathematically speaking, paying off the debt with the highest interest rate makes the most sense, but the debt snowball method has been proven to work better, because of the emotional payoff. The debt snowball method is simply taking your smallest debt and paying it off first, making minimum payments on all other debt. Once the smallest debt is paid, take that monthly payment and add it to the monthly payment for the next smallest debt, paying it off faster. Once that debt is paid, take the monthly payments from the first two debts you paid and apply them both to the next debt, and so on until all debt is paid. Every time you pay off a debt, it will motivate you to pay the next one off faster, and you’ll be amazed at the ways you find to throw even more money at that debt to make it disappear as quickly as possible.
- Start saving. If you’re like almost 40% of Americans, you don’t even have a thousand dollars set aside in savings to cover an emergency, yet almost every successful financial plan includes the creation of a $1,000 emergency fund. Getting that amount of money together overnight might be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Take inventory of anything you have to sell that could be put toward that $1,000, stop eating out at restaurants and eat at home more often, put away a little from your grocery budget, find a side gig, work a little overtime, and you’ll have your emergency fund fast. Saving is a lot like the snowball method of paying off debt; once you start it’s almost addicting to see how much more you can sock away for a rainy day. When you complete this resolution, you’ll be in a better financial position than 60% of America. Now that’s an accomplishment to be proud of!
- Learn to invest wisely. Investing does not have to be a mystery. If your company offers a 401k, that’s a great place to start. Contributing to a 401k directly from your paycheck is a painless way to invest in your future. You can’t spend it if you don’t have it, so direct deposit is the way to go (especially while you’re building your financial muscles). Investing isn’t just for the wealthy or those who love to geek out about the stock market, but you do need sound advice to invest wisely. The best place to get good investment advice is from someone who is successful at investing (not your cousin, as much he might want to give it to you). Seek counsel from an investment professional who is willing to teach you how it works, so that you truly understand what your money is doing.
Uncontrolled spending, debt, and never knowing where your money went is not a result of not making enough. If your finances are in a mess, it’s not a money problem – it’s a behavior problem. Changing your money behavior and buying, saving, and spending habit patterns will start changing your financial picture immediately, and once you start living within (or below) your means, paying off debt, saving money, and investing in the future, you’ll reap the manifold blessings of being in control of your finances that include peace of mind, less stress, more freedom, and better relationships.