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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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    Published on October 8, 2018

    13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

    13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

    Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

    Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

    So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

    1. Choose a major category each month to attack

    As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

    Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

    By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

    2. Only make major purchases in the morning

    If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

    Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

    Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

    3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

    Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

    The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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    Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

    4. Read one-star reviews for products

    Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

    By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

    Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

    5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

    If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

    The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

    Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

    This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

    6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

    One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

    While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

    The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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    7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

    Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

    That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

    That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

    8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

    Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

    If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

    Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

    Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

    This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

    9. Budget using cash and envelopes

    As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

    Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

    This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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    The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

    10. Join a like-minded group

    Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

    You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

    Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

    No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

    For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

    This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

    11. Reward Yourself

    When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

    Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

    With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

    But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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    Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

    12. Take the Buddhist approach

    You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

    Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

    Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

    The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

    13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

    If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

    It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

    Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

    Conclusion

    Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

    However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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