Have you considered your New Year resolutions yet? You really should, as the beginning of the year is a great time to take steps to improve your life, in any capacity. You might want to exercise more, eat better, and try new experiences, as just some of the examples of those common resolutions that many of us make.
This is also the time to start making financial goals, putting a few on your resolution list to give you a clear head when it comes to your money situation. And to ensure you actually stick to your resolutions, you need to be as specific as you can. Abstract goals rarely work, such as that common target of ‘exercising more,’ which will soon go out of the window if there is no direct plan in place.
With that in mind, here are some very specific financial resolutions to give you a better and brighter year ahead.
- Save 10% of your income each month
Don’t just tell yourself you are going to put more money into your savings this year. As we have already said, such abstract goals rarely work. Instead, set yourself a figure of how much you want to save, such as 10% of whatever it is you earn. Split the money between your savings account (for the nicer things in life), your retirement fund, and your emergency reserves. Sure, there will be some months when you can’t save as much, but do what you can. And if you can put more in each month, then do so.
- Check your credit report each quarter
Set yourself a reminder to check your credit score. You can do this for free with such services as Credit Wise and Credit Karma, so check out this article on Credit Wise vs. Credit Karma, and pick one of them as your credit monitoring service of choice. You need to check your credit report regularly, as it is an indication of your overall financial health. If your score is particularly low, you need to make amends to boost it, using some of the ideas here. There may also be inaccuracies on your report, so the sooner you discover them, the sooner you can fix them.
- Track your expenses on a daily basis
As part of your fitness and eating resolutions, you may be inclined to track your progress using a Fitbit or weighing scales. Follow the same good practice with your financial health, using an expense tracker to monitor how much you are spending a day. If you find yourself spending more than you can comfortably afford, you will be able to cut back, in much the same way as you would with your calories when monitoring your weight.
- Increase your income
Don’t just tell yourself you are going to ‘increase your income,’ of course. We did say you had to be specific. So consider some of these strategies to increase your income, and if any appeal to you, take the necessary steps to make them happen. Not only will your financial situation be improved, but with the examples we suggest – changing career, going to college, starting a business – your life might be enriched on a personal level as well.
By adding each of these suggestions to your list of resolutions, you may find yourself in a better place financially this time next year. And that, if any incentive was needed anyway, should be a good reason to focus on making those resolutions work for you. After all, we could all do with a little (or a lot) more money in our pockets, don’t we!