Making New Year's Resolutions Stick

So many of us have New Year’s Resolutions that include getting back into the gym, cleaning out the garage, and maybe painting the house. However, the most important resolution that you should actually stick to is your personal finances.

Most of us do not actually sit down and create a list of resolutions, but when it comes to your FICO credit score and your financial well-being, that may very well be the best place to start. Here are more tips for the financially-minded looking to set goals money goals for 2020.

Start with identifying the problem

In classic bad news first, then good news scenario, ask yourself the following: What are my sources of debt? How does this debt affect my overall income? And what are potential solutions I can find online? Determine whether that source of debt is essential for your quality of life. Do you really need the extended television cable? What alternatives to cable are cheaper while covering the entertainment you must-have? Are you checking your cell phone data plan to see if you and your family are using all that you are paying for? And finally, is dining out really worth it, or do you have time for additional grocery shopping and preparing your own meals?

After you have focused on your problems, that’s when the good news comes; there are ways to tackle these issues, with professionals available to assist you. 

DaveRamsey.com also adds context to this approach, using a “SMART” formula for financial planning:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Time-Sensitive

The concept behind this terminology is to set specific goals because broad terms tend to be unmotivating. Measure the success of your efforts as a way to continually set goals on a monthly basis. The achievement of reaching those goals is what motivates improvement. The only way to fully enact change is to make sure the solutions are relevant to your problems and have an immediate impact. 

What is the goal of good money management?

After establishing the sources of your debt and tackling a few to-dos to put yourself in a position for recovery, the next step is to change your thinking process about your debt. Closely tied to debt is your FICO credit score, because the interest rates on your credit cards, mortgage, car payments, and many more are determined by this score. Improving your personal finances as a New Year’s resolution is a long-term play. It takes patience, time, and commitment to set routines that drive success.

The ultimate goal of good money management is financial freedom from an increased credit score, minimal risk, and income that outpaces debt commitments.

The penultimate of long-term financial health is the ability to retire without the worry of having to return to work to make ends meet. Investopedia words it this way: “The biggest long-term financial goal for most people is saving enough money to retire. The common rule of thumb that you should save 10% to 15% of every paycheck in a tax-advantaged retirement account like a 401(k), 403(b), or Roth IRA is a good first step. But to make sure you’re really saving enough, you need to figure out how much you’ll actually need to retire.”

New Year's Financial Resolutions
New Year’s Financial Resolutions to Climb Out of Debt

What is your biggest financial goal?

The easiest way to work toward a goal is to determine the one thing that matters to you most – Is it finally owning a house instead of renting? Is it paying off that car payment that is crippling your monthly income? Or is it simply affording groceries and the occasional night out?

This concept of work and self-reward goes hand-in-hand with the cost-cutting we mentioned above. Work toward this goal first, and when income becomes available over a period of time, establish a new resolution and start again.

Here is a cue from US News on how to establish patterns for tackling debt tasks from small to large: “Before you can make progress toward any financial goals, identify what they are. Are you hoping to earn a degree? Buy a home? Repay your auto loan? Finally, contribute to your employer 401(k)? To increase your chances of success, “you have to be specific,” says Leanna Johannes, senior wealth strategist at PNC Wealth Management. A broad-based promise to “improve your finances” or “save more” may not demand the self-reflection or planning necessary to be successful. Take some real time to mull over what financial qualities you can improve this year. Consider your outlook, then outline a plan of attack.”

Refrain from impulse spending

Impulse spending can implode your chances of setting up an emergency fund for a rainy day. Identifying impulses and shopping habits can be the most difficult task in the entire process of tackling debt. According to a study cited by CNBC, “Those few unplanned purchases you made this week? Keep it up and your yearly tally from those spontaneous moments could reach $5,400 annually.”

The CNBC piece continues, “That’s how much the average U.S. consumer spends each year on impulse buys, according to a new survey by Slickdeals.net. The study of 2,000 consumers shows they make three of those purchases a week, adding up to $450 a month and $5,400 per year.”

This seems to be closely related to another study reported by Bankrate, discussing how a startling number of Americans would be unable or fail to pay for an emergency with savings: “A Bankrate survey this year found that only 39 percent of Americans would pay for an unexpected $1,000 expense with their savings. Even worse, the Federal Reserve found that 40 percent of Americans can’t even cover a $400 emergency expense. Without emergency savings, many Americans end up in debt trying to cover unexpected costs.”

Bankrate’s advice on fixing this issue is sound: “Consider setting up automatic transfers from your paychecks to a savings account; that way, the money is “out of sight, out of mind” and you won’t be tempted to spend it rather than save.”

How do I start a financial plan?

To start tracking your debt firmly, plug your budget information into a calculator, and determine how much you need to save to accomplish your goals. If credit card debt is your main problem area, consider starting a debt snowball payment plan to tackle your debt troubles. This method of recovering from debt can help you find additional funds for your mortgage, car payment, money for your children, and many other things. 

Lastly, consider enrolling in an automatic savings plan. Here are some details from TheBalance on how this works: “If you have a financial resolution to save more money, then using an automated savings plan helps you follow through because the cash is drawn directly from your bank before you can get your hands on it.” 

Out of sight, out of mind? Not exactly. You still need to remember that this money will be coming out of your income monthly, even though it isn’t reflected on your pay stubs. The best managers of their personal finances know how to account for this deduction in their bank account by following the steps above.

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If you found our blog looking for financial advice or assistance with credit card debt relief or debt consolidation, call Golden Financial Services today at (866)-376-9846 or info@goldenfs.org. You can check out the rest of our blog here, and do your research on our services here. Let’s talk soon!

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