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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.
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.
“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.
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.
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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