If you are like me, each year you make a list of New Year’s resolutions that don’t end up making it to spring time, much less the entire year… i.e. going to the gym, eating healthy, etc. Well, this year I plan to not only stick to my goals, but also add goals for my financial well-being to the list. Make improving your financial well-being part of your annual resolution procedure … and stick to it! In hopes of getting you going, here are mine:
I will make a budget, and use it to improve my spending habits
This doesn’t have to be as gruesome as you think. Consider using a tool such as Mint.com that automates, aggregates, and updates for you. Track your progress monthly with their charts and see what areas you can cut back (like the Jimmy John’s sandwich that is oh so convenient to have delivered for lunch multiple times per week).
I will spend less, and thus save more
- Take advantage of coupons, Groupons, or any other deals out there. I’m not saying become an extreme couponer like you see on TV (unless you have the time and energy for that), but there are easy potential ways to save on your expected purchases. Try a quick Google search for sales or price comparisons before you head out to make that buy.
- Don’t pay for pricey added features that you don’t use, just because you get a deal for bundling (i.e. cable, cell phones, internet). If you lead a busy life and don’t have the time to watch TV very often, consider a streaming option such as Netflix, Hulu, or Roku instead of paying for pricey cable.
- If you get an end-of-year bonus, put it into savings (or at least majority of it) instead of going on a shopping spree and spending it all in one day. For your job well done, treat yourself to something satisfying yet small in expense (maybe that Biggby specialty coffee you hardly ever buy because it’s expensive), then transfer the rest to savings.
I will plan for future retirement
Take advantage of employer matching 401(k)s. If you get a raise for the upcoming year, consider increasing your 401(k) contribution as well. Then your increased income goes directly into your retirement savings instead of into your checking account, where it will be tempting to spend.
I will create a long term vision and strive to make it my future reality
Start an emergency fund (the Center recommends 3-6 months of expenses). This may take some time, depending on if you have one started. Once your emergency fund is sufficient, consider compartmentalizing your incoming savings for your long-term visions (click here for recent post about compartmentalizing).
The little things add up before you realize it, so strive to break the constant bad spending habits (the daily Jimmy John’s or Biggby coffee); but have fun treating yourself sometimes as well. Finding enjoyment while staying within your means will help you stick to your resolutions long term and may improve your financial well-being.
Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily of RJFS or Raymond James. C13-001741.