Working on the list of New Year’s resolutions? A better financial picture is on the top of many people’s list. Unfortunately, as with many New Year’s resolutions, financial goals are often not met. How do you change that? Here are a few tips that may help you in 2013.
Humans are visual creatures. How do you visualize a better financial future? Start with a list of your financial goals broken down into one, three, and five year goals. Keep that list where you can see it on a regular basis. Step two is to develop a budget. Whether you use an online tool, smartphone app, or an old-fashioned piece of paper, review your budget on a regular basis. The key is to have something tangible to remind you of your resolution to become more financially fit.
An abstract concept like ”I want to save more money” is so vague that it begs to be ignored. Something as specific as ”I want to save $1,000 for a down payment on a newer car” gives you two goals; the $1,000 and the newer car.
Your goals have to be realistic and achievable or you will fail. It is admirable to pay off $10,000 in credit card debt in a single year, but it an unrealistic undertaking if you only make $30,000 a year. A more realistic resolution would be to pay an extra fifty bucks on that debt each month.
We have all tried and failed at something. If you dwell on your past failures, you may use those past failures as an excuse to stop trying. Instead of dwelling on these past obstacles, learn from them. Ask yourself what went wrong, how can I change my approach, and, most importantly, what did I do right?
On of the biggest obstacles to a financial plan is drudgery. Most of us get tired of feeling as if we are depriving ourselves, so we jump off the wagon at the first opportunity. Build an occasional reward into your resolution. Something as simple as eating out to celebrate hitting a balance of $500 in your savings account can go a long way toward keeping yourself on track for the entire year.
As the coming year progresses you may find yourself facing various setbacks. You may have to adjust your goal for the year in order to accommodate these setbacks, but do not lose sight of the resolution that you have made. Keep working, even if it is toward a reduced goal.