What better way to kick off a New Year’s than with a resolution to improve your financial well-being? So much of our daily lives and future dreams are affected by our finances, so it makes sense to make financial health a priority.
Kick One Habit to the Curb
We all have those little habits that nickel and dime us all year. Wouldn’t it be nice to not only kick one of those habits, but to then be able to do something rewarding with the money we save? Try using this chart to help you identify those habits that are spending leaks and unnecessary. Then, set a resolution to eliminate one of them. Each month, put the money you would’ve spent into a MAX club account. At the end of the year, decide what do to with the money instead: save it, put it towards paying off a loan, or buy yourself something as a reward for keeping your promise.
Set a Savings Goal
Help kick start your other goals by creating a savings goal to help you get there. The best savings goals are both simple and specific.Try following this formula for success:
How Much x When = What:
“I will save $1,000 by December 15, 2018, so that I can place a down payment on a new car!”
Then, break that down into a bite-sized monthly goal amount to help you stay on track for the year.
Pay Off a LoanWouldn’t it be nice to have one less bill to worry about each month? Here are some steps to help you target a loan to pay off this year:
- Choose the loan you wish to pay off. The mostly likely way to stay on track is to pick the loan with the lowest balance to start. This way, you can increase your monthly payment without depleted your wallet each month.
- Use our handy loan calculators to help you determine how much to pay on that loan each month to pay it off this year.
- Commit to the new payment. If you’re choosing to pay off a credit card, the best way to stay on track is to visualize this amount you’ve chosen as your new regular payment amount rather than focusing on how much the actual payment is decreasing each month. The lower the card balance, the lower the monthly payment. The upside is that as the actual payment goes down, your larger, consistent payment amount is going more towards the principal balance each month and you’ll save interest over time.
Pocket New Money
When you run into money unexpectedly or you receive money outside of your normal earnings (such as bonus checks), consider placing that money into savings rather than spending it.If that doesn’t suit you, make a commitment to automatically save a certain percentage. This will accomplish two things: you are still building a new savings habit, and you’re still able to spend some money without the guilt.
Reduce Your Stress
Financial stress is a real thing. It affects you emotionally, mentally, and even physically. When we stress about money, it can seep into other areas of our lives (like relationships) and it can also impact the decisions we make.If you find that your financial health is causing you stress, make a commitment to yourself to find a way to reduce your stress and increase your confidence in your financial health. Here are some suggestions:
- Talk to someone. Whether it is a financial planner, a family member, best friend, or spouse, find someone you can trust to talk to. It’s up to you how much you share, but just having someone to talk to can help reduce stress.
- Remind yourself that we all go through this. At some point, we all face a financial challenge. The key is to recognize what can change and make a decision how to make that change. Give yourself a pep talk, realize that you are not the only one going through this, and then take the step to do something different to tackle that particular financial goal.
- Write it down. Writing down goals can help you stay on track. Keep a journal or electronic diary outlining your financial goal and document each action you take to improve it. Also write down how each step along the way made you feel to keep yourself motivated and increase your financial self-esteem: How did it feel to save an extra $50 this month? What were you able to afford since you met this month’s savings goal? Did meeting this month’s goal help you sleep easier at night?
It’s important that you reward yourself along the way to stay motivated. Rewards don’t have to cost anything: it can be as simple as congratulating yourself on reaching the next step towards your goal.