The new year is a great time for a fresh start. More than half of us will make a resolution. This year, think about resolutions you make to help improve your financial well being.
Taking stock of your current financial situation is a good place to start. Ask yourself these questions:
• Am I comfortable with my current financial situation?
• Do I stress over my finances?
• Do I find it difficult to pay all of my bills each month?
• Would I have enough saved to cover a major unexpected expense like car repairs, heating/air conditioning repairs, etc.?
• Were the holidays financially stressful?
If you find you need to make improvements to your financial health, set a goal and work toward it throughout the year. Make sure your goal is SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound. Basically, SMART goals are outlined in detail, provide a path forward, are realistic and will be accomplished in a certain time period. For example, if you want to increase your savings by $1,200 by the end of the year, resolve to put $100 in your savings account each month.
If you want to make holiday spending less stressful in 2019, many banks also offer Christmas club accounts, which allow you to save for the holidays throughout the year. With the holidays still fresh on your mind, it’s a good idea to add up your expenses from this year to give you a savings amount to shoot for next year.
If your goal is debt reduction, think about ways you can meet that goal. Do you have debts that are close to being paid off that you could go ahead and pay off to save on interest? Maybe you want to pay extra on the debt each month to more quickly reach that goal. You may be able to negotiate lower rates with your creditors to save on interest. Your resolution could also be to limit the charges or not put any charges on your credit cards this year.
Develop a monthly budget. A budget will allow you to see on paper where your money actually goes each month. It will also show you areas you may be able to reduce to meet your financial goals. Make sure to include your financial resolution in the budget.
Encourage your children to start good financial habits. Talk to them about the importance of saving. If they do not have a savings account, open one for them with some of the money they received during the holidays. Let them have an allowance and decide how they should portion it out. Be a role model by letting them see you save.