The new year is just around the corner and you have the power to make it your best year ever. Are you willing to make the sacrifices? Are you willing to put in the hard work to see your financial dreams come true? If so, these money tips are for you.
Set a Financial Goal or Two
As the new year begins, set aside the time to figure out what you really want financially. What are your primary goals? Do want to save for a new house, set aside money for retirement, or pay off your debt? Once you’ve settled on your goals, write them down. This is crucial. Studies show that we’re more likely to fulfill our goals if we put them to paper. Next, devise a plan of action to help you achieve your goals during the coming year.
Remember, it’s important to keep your goals front and center throughout the year. This will prevent frivolous spending and other financial temptations from derailing your financial dreams. Consider creating a vision board of your financial goals or posting your goals to your bathroom mirror where you’ll see them everyday.
Track Your Spending
In order to get your financial life in order you have to know where your money is going. Otherwise, you’re driving blind. Are you wasting money on insignificant purchases? Perhaps you’re paying too much for phone service or cable channels you don’t use. Are you eating out too much, spending too much on gas, or getting fleeced by your auto insurance?
The only way you’ll know is by tracking your spending. Now this can be a pain, but your financial well-being is worth it. Try it for the just thirty days. Save all your receipts or use a debit or credit card that allows you to review all your purchases. Then sit down and really examine how you’re spending your money.
I guarantee you’ll be surprised at some of the ways you’re wasting cash. In no time at all you’ll be able to eliminate money drains and put more money back into your pocketbook.
Claim Your Free Money
The other day I realized that my employer allows me to obtain a 23% discount on my cell phone service. Might not sound like much, but a 10 minute visit to my company’s employee benefit website will save me nearly $250 next year on my cell phone service.
From subsidized public transportation to discounts at major retailers, employee benefits often go unrecognized or unused. One of the biggest oversights is failing to take advantage of your employer’s 401K matching contribution. Many companies will match an employees contribution to their 401K plan up to as much as 6% of an employee’s salary.
Are you taking advantage of all the employee benefits you’re entitled too? You could be leaving money on the table. Check with your HR manager or visit your company’s employee website to see if you are missing out on discounts and other employee benefits.
Every new year we promise to save, but we inevitably fail. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans have less than $1000 in savings.
Make this year different.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a lot of money left over to save. Start off slowly if you have to. Save your change at the end of each day, for instance, or contribute a dollar or two to a candy jar each evening. Just the practice of saving, even small amounts, will make it easier to save even more in the future.
Alternatively, save a certain percentage of your paycheck every week. Each payday have part of your paycheck automatically direct deposited into a special savings account. Transfer 5%, 3%, or even 1% of your paycheck. As time goes by, you can slowly increase the percentage. You’ll become accustomed to living on less as you watch your savings grow.
Do Something Bold
What happens if you look over your finances and realize that you just don’t have the money to make your financial dreams come true? Even after eliminating the money drains and unnecessary spending you’re still short of cash.
Well, it may just be time to do something bold. You might consider searching for a better paying job. Maybe it’s time to start that side hustle you’ve always considered. Perhaps, the time is right to downsize from two cars to one. You might even consider downsizing to a less expensive home or apartment.
The key thing to remember is that to change our station in life, we often have to take action, or we’ll end up in the same exact place year after year.
BMWK, what are you planning on doing to make 2014 your best financial year ever?