It’s New Year again, and just like every other year around this time people are full of resolutions. Promises we make ourselves that sound great, but don’t seem to last long. “I’m going to work out every single day” “I’m never going to drink that much again” “I’m finally going to take up dancing!” While there’s nothing wrong with a little goal setting, you’re far better off to focus on realistic and attainable resolutions than jumping on the gym bandwagon for the few weeks it seems to last.
I know it seems like I’m scoffing at resolutions in the new year, but in reality, I just want to encourage a bit of healthy realism to them. It’s a great idea – at any time of year – to sit down and take stock of your life, and set goals to a happier path. It’s just a far greater undertaking when it’s accompanied by a plan rather than a drink and a toast.
Resolutions can be a great thing, so long as they’re realistic enough that they can actually lead to real change. This article is going to overview 7 financial resolutions that, if undertaken correctly, can vastly change your financial future!
Resolution #1: Don’t eat out as much.
While many try for the extreme “don’t eat out anymore”, this is unrealistic. You will end up going out for dinner with your friends, family, and loved ones – and you should be able to guilt free! The best way to do this is by limiting, rather than eliminating, eating out!
Try this, resolve to cook for the first three months of a year straight. After that if you want to eat out fine, but for the first three months eat in.
This includes your lunches! Make plans to brown bag it! Bake some snacks at the top of the week, rather than buying little ones each day. You’ll be shocked at how much this tip alone will save you, and it may just motivate you to make it last longer than the first few months.
Consider the following example: You normally spend $15 a day on lunch. This doesn’t seem unreasonable, but it adds up quickly when you multiply $15 x 5 days a week ($75!). If you bagged your lunch instead, costing between $3-$5, you’re saving between $12-$15 every day – and that adds up to thousands in just a year!
Sacrifice convenience to see what happens to your budget. You’ll like the results.
Resolution #2: Try a temporary spending fast.
Spending fasts are a new trend where people work to spend only on the absolute necessities for a predetermined amount of time. This is extremely hard at first, but makes a drastic difference to your bottom line. It’s also a fast way to get spending habits under control.
By purging for just a few weeks, you can force yourself to learn not to let impulse buying and emotions drive your financial path. It’ll also teach you to be grateful for what you already have and encourage you to enjoy items you may not have thought about for a while rather than buying new ones.
What do you do with the extra money? Save it for a reward for later, or start your emergency fund. Whatever you prefer! The goal here is to take some time out of the usual spending patterns, and take control.
Resolution #3: Quit the gym.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but hear me out here. The gym is a place people want to go to try to workout, but is one of the least kept goals people make. So, try instead to find a workout you can do at home, and ditch the gym membership.
Consider investing in a bike, or a good pair of running shoes. These are forms of exercise that will still get you in shape, but without requiring a pricey monthly fee.
If you really do value your gym membership, change this resolution to make the most out of it (maybe take a new class there, or go a few more times a week than you normally would). By making the most out of the gym membership, you can get your money’s worth, the goal is just not to waste this monthly expense.
Resolution #4: Perform a purge of your stuff
One of the better resolutions to undertake is a spring clean, and a spring purge to be more specific. Clear out those closets. Reorganise those cupboards. If you aren’t using it, why is it taking up space?
Sometimes going through and reorganising can be enough to save the space, and maybe to help you rediscover long lost objects deep in the closet! However, more often than not, if you lost it maybe it was for a good reason. It may be time to considering donating that extra crock pot rather than frustrating yourself by carving out even more valuable real estate in your kitchen cabinet.
There are several ways to get rid of unwanted items, and these can range from donations to charity to holding a yard sale to make a little bit of extra cash! Extra cash seems to be the most fun, and can go towards your savings for the new year or into a small treat if you’re so inclined. (Or maybe even into more organisational systems!).
Resolution #5 Be aware of, and in control of, your credit rating
What’s your credit score? Do you know it? Do you know how to analyze if it’s a good score? You should. Your credit score determines purchasing power in a variety of domains, from getting a new car loan to a mortgage, and even the way you file taxes.
Another reason to check your credit rating? It’s a quick way to see if something suspicious is going on, and if your identity may have been stolen. Finding a series of new loans that you didn’t take out could put you on the fast track to stopping an identity thief before they really get started.
The final function of being aware of your credit rating is putting yourself in control of it. If you’re aware you have a bit of work to do to get a better rating, this can often be cleared up in a matter of months – you just need to be aware of it to get started.
Resolution #6 Learn more about your finances
Learning more about your finances and the factors that influence your financial success or failure can be a great way to empower yourself in the new year. Just as you’re doing in going through this article, reading through financial blogs or books can be a quick way to put yourself on the path to success.
Take some time and think about what aspect of finances you’d like to learn more about. Are you looking to branch into investing or learn more about different savings options? Are you trying to understand how to save more now, or protect yourself for the future? Each of these goals has a huge body of literature behind it that can keep you busy in the months to come.
Resolution #7 Make a date with yourself to organise your finances
The final resolution I’ll impart is the idea of taking a day to yourself to check some items off the financial to do list. Financial success is hugely about being organised, and this can take time. Gifting yourself a full day to get your financial house in order can go a long way to getting that feeling of organisation.
Investigate your car insurance quotes, are you getting the best deal? Is your bank treating you as they should? Have you let hidden fees go unchecked for too long? Take the day and organise at least a few of these things and aim to do this periodically.
Taking a whole day may seem like a lot of time, but you’ll be surprised about how quickly that day will pass – and how much you already want another one!
The Bottom Line
Whether all of these resolutions appeal to you, or just a few, take the time to plan how the next year of your financial life will go. Even picking a few resolutions can vastly change your path to success, so take some time to chart which ones you will take!
The bottom line is to be as specific and realistic as possible. So, while “be debt free” may sound great, a better resolution will be a more concrete plan to get out of debt in the next six months (for example). Getting specific can mean you’ll also be more committed in following through on the resolutions, which will only encourage you to pick a few more the next year.
No matter what resolutions you’re thinking of undertaking, I wish you all the best as you undertake this new financial year. Remember, you’re in control – and if you’ve lost it, you can get it back!