While January is not the only time to start fresh and set goals, it is certainly a great time to reflect on what you want to improve on in the days ahead. Statisticbrain.com lists “spending less, saving more” as #3 in the world of popular New Year’s resolutions. There is a reason that money tops the resolution list almost as frequently as losing weight (it’s #1)—when done right, it can have a huge impact on your life.
Like any resolution, the key to achieving success comes through setting realistic goals that you can actually stick to. Luckily, with finances, even small changes can have a big impact over the lifetime of your money. So I’ve compiled some easy ways that you can make some real progress on your financial health in 2013.
Your New Year’s Checklist:
□ Get real. Look at your realistic financial picture—how much you earn, your fixed expenses and any debt you have—so you can set a budget that makes sense for you. Evaluate the things that are most important to you and budget toward them by deciding where you are willing to make sacrifices.
□ Start small. Set aside an amount to consistently invest, even if it’s only $25 a month. Invest that $25 each month in something with an 8% return, and in 30 years, you’ll bank on an extra $37,259 in savings!
□ Get in the black. Nothing can eat through your extra income faster than accumulating interest. Make a goal to get rid of 1 credit card balance this year. Once that is paid off, use the money you were paying and apply it toward the next card. Keep doing this until you are debt free!
□ Be transparent. Find someone who you can trust to hold you accountable. It’s a good idea to set up a time each month to go over your budget together and review your wins and misses. Make adjustments until you get it right!
□ Plan ahead. Put together a short- and long-term plan to reach your goals. A short-term plan might be to save an extra $25/month, while your long-term plan might be to accumulate a $20,000 down payment on a house over the next 5 years.
□ Safeguard against emergencies. Whether it’s a major car repair, medical expense or loss of employment, we all know the stress an unexpected expense can cause. A good rule of thumb is to set aside 6 months of living expenses in an account that you don’t touch.
□ Look forward. Focusing on your financial regrets and living in the past will get you nowhere fast. Instead, focus on taking positive steps forward to help you gain momentum and make progress toward your financial goals.
- Financial success won’t happen overnight: small steps make a big difference!
- The rules for investing haven’t changed. The market behaves predictably over the long-term, so make sure you have a diversified portfolio and let your money grow over time.
- The things that are truly valuable in life are not things that you purchase. Keeping a healthy perspective will lead to a better overall quality of life!
Julie Newcomb, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in Orange County, CA, specializes in financial planning for women. As a wife, mom and business owner, Julie understands the pressures and challenges most women feel on a daily basis as they juggle many important priorities. Julie’s favorite thing about her job is the ability to give women peace of mind when they entrust her with their finances. To learn more about Julie Newcomb Financial, go to julienewcomb.com.