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3 Things You Can Do Now to Improve Your Finances in the New Year

3 Things You Can Do Now to Improve Your Finances in the New Year


    Who wants to end 2012 even better financially? You need more than just a “that sounds like a good idea” attitude to make that happen.

    So let’s not waste anymore time, shall we?

    Here are three actions you can take now — before we even hit 2012 — to end next year with a better balance than this year.

    1. Know Your End Game

    What kind of financial standing do you want to end up with in December 2012? Take some time now to plan your financial goals.

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    I recommend figuring out how things went this year. What were you happy about? What could have gone better financially? Were there any bad choices made? Be completely honest with yourself.

    Now think, if you were looking back on 2012 and reveling in how amazing it was for you financially, what would it look like? No, this isn’t “pie in the sky” or “winning the lottery” type of imagining. Figure out logically what you should shoot for.

    If you make your goal too big your brain will start to stress over not yet achieving it.

    Just thinking about what you want isn’t enough though. Try to set your goal in stone.

    After interviewing 50 millionaires, I’ve learned that they do a lot after the goal is set. They use vision boards, goals written on whiteboards, or put goals on post-it notes on their laptops. Then they break down the goal to figure out what they need to do to achieve it.

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    “When I have a goal I’ve written it down and then I know I need to make this happen to achieve the goal. What my action steps are for today, tomorrow, this week, next week, for this whole month, etc.” – Vonda White, CEO of Collegiate Risk Management

    Millionaires don’t do anything crazy or different than the typical advice you have heard about setting goals. Their success lies in that they actually take action to write them down, see them every day and commit to working on them each week.

    Action: Create your End Game in visual form that you will see it every day. Break it down into weekly goals and commit to them.

    2. Get Accountability

    Finances are still a taboo subject. It may mean fighting over money with your significant other, or being hush-hush on how much money you make in the workplace. We tend to complain about money in public. It seems socially acceptable to talk about being broke, or getting good deals on stuff but not about giving advice and helping each other out.

    If you want to win in 2012 with money you can’t be silent. I know this from experience. I was $70,000 in debt and didn’t even realize it. Only when I was able to start talking about it — and doing something about it — did things change. I paid off all $70,000 in 16 months.

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    So find someone that you can talk to and keep you accountable. Find a friend that wants to work on their finances in 2012 too. If you are married, your first choice should be your husband or wife so you can create a strong bond around your finances (but if money is a sore subject though you may need to find a friend you trust instead).

    Set up a weekly or bi-weekly chat with each other. Talk about great choices you’ve made, and what you want to do better in the weeks to come. You can also help each other brainstorm about ways to hit your goals. Commit to that meeting. It will give your finances the attention they need to achieve your goal.

    Action: Email your trusted friend or significant other asking them to help you be accountable in 2012.

    3. Be Thankful

    We all want things to improve next year. I know from working with many clients, we tend to focus on what we don’t want, or how much better things will be when we achieve our goals in the future.

    It’s not about that at all.

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    It’s about appreciating your financial situation now. Even if it’s not what you want. Most likely you have a computer and are reading this on your Internet connection, or maybe even at work. That means you have much more than most people on this planet.

    Make sure your 2012 includes ways to show your gratitude for all that you have. We have so much to be thankful for and sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

    Create a thankful routine. A thankful routine is just something you decide to do when you are feeling down about your money situation, or you aren’t making as much progress as you want to. It might involve writing down a few things you are thankful for, giving a small amount of money or time to someone who needs it more, or even calling family or a friend to remind them how much you love them.

    Money isn’t everything.

    Action: Create your thankful routine. Just pick one thing you want to do when you attitude about your fiances shift negatively.

    Enjoy your 2012. What are your plans to make it the best year yet?

    (Photo credit: Calculator and Money via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

    30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

    Summertime can be a real strain on your wallet. The sun is out, there are people to see, places to be; it’s no wonder you might be short of funds during these sunny months. Not everything has to cost you an arm and a leg.

    Take some time to go through this list of 20 cheap summer activities and make some realistic goals to complete as many as you can.

    Video Summary

    1. Visit a strawberry festival

    Summer is prime time for tasting strawberries. More often than not, an area that grows strawberries will have a strawberry festival. Indulge yourself in strawberry pies, jams, cakes and more!

    2. Have a picnic

    Take your partner or your family to the local park and enjoy a relaxing picnic. Designate each person to bring one food item of their choice to add to the fun.

    3. Camp in your back yard

      The summer heat can sometimes make it hard to sleep. Why not enjoy the heat outside in the yard? Pitch a tent or gaze into the night sky.

      4. Take long walks

      Discover something new where you live. Take the afternoon off from your chores and go for a long walk. You may be surprised by what you discover.

      5. Break a world record

      Breaking a world record doesn’t have to be time-consuming. You could even break one on your lunch hour. Give it a go!

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      6. Go on a bike ride

      The number of bike paths on roads in big cities has increased dramatically over the years. Take advantage, and enjoy the summer breeze.

      7. Join a gym class

        The gym is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but why not go with a friend a join a class? Spinning, yoga and step classes are always more fun with friends, and a lot of gyms allow you to pay-as-you-go.

        8. Find a new hobby

        The summer is the perfect time to find a new hobby. Serotonin (our body’s natural “happy” hormone) is produced by the sunshine and will be at a yearly high, which is great for when we want to tackle something new.

        9. Join a sports team

        Not all sports teams are competitive and require huge amounts of your time. Join in the fun with like-minded people, get fit, stay healthy and make some friends along the way.

        10. Make a slip ‘n slide

          Gather your friends, some plastic sheeting, a hose, washing up liquid if desired, and make a huge slip ‘n slide just like these guys. Granted, yours won’t be as big, but you get the idea… it’s fun!

          11. Make a treasure hunt for your kids

          Today’s digital world sees our children more often than not playing inside than outside. Why not create a sense of adventure by making a treasure hunt? Only rule? It has to be outside.

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          12. Visit a free festival

          Towns and cities are awash with free festivals, with themes from film to science. Scout your local area and discover something new.

          13. Visit the zoo

            Let’s face it: we love animals. While browsing news websites and social media networks you’re bound to come across a few pictures of cats. Take a trip to your local zoo for a better experience.

            14. Take a road trip

            Enjoy the open road with a few friends and take a road trip somewhere–anywhere. Just go out and enjoy the sunshine!

            15. Play ultimate frisbee in the park

              Frisbee is always great fun down the park, but why not turn it into more of a competitive sport by playing ultimate frisbee?

              16. Make your own ice cream

              Ice cream is a very versatile dessert. Make a sandwich, enjoy a cone, or simply just enjoy a bowl full. Better yet, making your own ice cream allows you to create any flavor you want.

              17. Invite your neighbors over for a BBQ

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                When was the last time you invited your neighbors over? Do you even know them? Now’s your chance. Just ask each person to bring a food item so costs don’t mount up for you.

                18. Get a summer job

                For many students, summer is the time for relaxation and fun. But who said earning money and being productive isn’t fun? You only get out what you put into a situation.

                19. Attend a charity event

                Attending a charity event is a great way to raise funds and awareness for a cause, meet new people, and generally have a good time. Search for your local charity event today.

                20. Visit a national park

                National parks are a great way to explore nature and learn something new. You could even volunteer and make a difference in helping restore natural habitats.

                21. Visit your local comedy club

                  Local comedy clubs are extremely underrated. They are cheap to attend and no doubt you’ll have a barrel of laughs.

                  22. Make your own hammock

                    Hammocks are very relaxing, are perfect for summer afternoons and are surprisingly easy to make.

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                    23. Read in your new hammock

                    Now you have your very own hammock, the only thing left to do is enjoy it. Grab your favorite book and read to your heart’s content.

                    24. Watch a movie outside

                    Movies are great. Relaxing outside in the evening is great. Put them together and you’ve got a perfect combination. In D.C, Maryland and Virginia this summer, for example, you can enjoy a huge number of movies outside.

                    25. Take a hike

                      Hikes are a great way to keep fit and see more of Mother Nature. There are countless trails available for you to explore. Why not try some this summer?

                      26. Learn how to fly a kite

                      As a child, you probably had a kite and haven’t touched it since. Why not dust it off and attempt to fly it? It’s tricky, but well worth the challenge.

                      27. Work out at the park

                      American cities are full of parks with ample space for a work out session. No doubt you’ll be happier to work out in the sun rather than a crowded gym.

                      28. Take your dog to the beach

                        One of the many joys of owning a dog is taking him or her for long walks during the summertime. This joy is enhanced when visiting the beach, for both you and your dog.

                        29. Make a summer smoothie

                        Healthy, delicious and perfect for the summer. Not only that, there are countless recipes ready for you to try.

                        30. Attend a free yoga session at the beach

                        No experience needed and all skill levels are welcome. Take yourself and a buddy down to the beach and try some yoga. You’ve got nothing to lose!

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