4 New Year’s Resolutions It’s Not Too Late To Still Make
I know what it’s like…
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
We all make resolutions, pumped up for the new year, and before we know it we’re already a couple of weeks in and we haven’t stuck to a single one.
I’ve done it.
You’ve done it.
But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to become happier and wealthier!
That’s why I want to share with you the four finance fixes it’s not still too late to put into play.
It’s not too late to make a few resolutions that’ll make you rich.
So let’s get to ‘em!
4 Financial Fixes Your Bank Account Will Thank You For This Year
Finance Fix #1: Build A Budget
I’ve come across so many people that don’t budget properly.
Heck, I even know a few people who don’t budget AT ALL!
This is a one-way ticket to debt.
And it’s never too late to start planning or delving deeper into your finances.
When you budget, you ensure you’ll always have enough money for the things you need.
Whether it’s that fancy holiday you’ve been wanting to take, that new laptop, or even something for the kids.
Your budget will help you get there.
Budgeting is also a great way to get out of debt, but I’ll get to that in a minute!
The best part about a budget is that once you start to understand your finances and costs, you’ll be able to forecast your spending!
It means the difference between a lean month and a normal one.
And nobody likes the leaner months.
If you plan ahead, and budget properly, these can be a thing of the past.
Once you can start predicting what types of month you’ll have (lean or ‘mean’), you’ll be able to accomplish so much more financially by the end of the year.
You need to start with a list of your costs & expenses, and then your income status.
Once you have these you can start developing a budget for the coming months.
There are tons of online tools and applications that can help you do this.
Personally I just use my phones note taking system.
That works for me.
Other people might prefer to write it down physically.
Whatever your method is, it’s important you start it today if you haven’t already.
Think of budgets as a way to help you save for the future and get you to the financial position you want to be in.
With that in mind, it’s important to be realistic with your goals to ensure you can achieve them.
But tracking your spending and knowing where each cent of your salary goes is the first step.
When it comes to certain spend, I’d suggest limiting them.
Personally I try to keep my petrol bill and water & lights bill under certain amounts.
This helps me to free up money for other things, like investing, my retirement annuity and so on.
Budgeting seems like one of those things we all do, but it really isn’t.
If you’re not documenting every cent that comes in and out of your account, you’re going to find it empties a lot quicker than you can imagine.
Finance Fix #2: Track Your Spending
This may strike you as a little tedious…
But the first step to getting your finances under control is to know where your money is going!
There’s no point in building a proper budget and then not sticking to it.
Or worse, wasting money on silly things.
Track all of your spending.
Your bond, car loan, cellphone contract, bank fees (most people forget about this one!), debit transactions… The lot!
Even though we may not think we’re spending copious amounts, we’re often painfully wrong!
Most banks let you download your transaction history.
There are even a few apps out there that let you do this too.
Either way, tracking your spending will not only make you more aware of how you spend your money, but it works hand in hand with implementing a successful budgeting plan.
Now, there’s no point in collecting this info and doing nothing with it.
Once you’ve tracked your costs and expenses for a while you need to step back and take a look at your spending habits.
At this point you’ll look at making adjustments.
I remember doing this for the first time and was shocked at how much I was spending on cellphone bundles.
It actually made me choose a different cellphone contract, saving me a few hundred rand in the process.
The same thing happened when I realized how much of my monthly salary was going to daily food and take-out.
Again, nipping this in the bud and packing lunches instead saved me a few hundred as well.
Before I knew it I was a couple of hundred rand richer every month!
And if you track your spending, evaluate, and adjust accordingly, you can too!
Finance Fix #3: Set Up An Emergency Fund
Ah yes, the emergency fund.
Or what most people like to call “the holiday budget”, or the box filled with constant IOU’s.
Most people deplete their emergency funds and take far too long, if ever, to replenish it.
Emergency funds aren’t there to buy us nice things.
They’re there for the big things!
If you lose your job, your car service is a little more than expected, you need a few new tyres… And so on.
Do you have an emergency fund?
There are a lot of suggestions and bits of advice all over the net about how big it needs to be…
But I’ve found if you stick to around +-6/7 months of expenses, you should be fine to cover the big stuff.
Another thing you should look at doing is creating an entirely separate account for this!
When I first started building my emergency fund I kept it in my credit card, but eventually spent it.
If it’s there you’ll be tempted to use “just a little” here and there…
Rather save yourself the trouble and open a separate account and setup a debit order to automatically transfer a little over every month if you’re starting from scratch.
I know how tempting it can be to use it towards a beach getaway, or to pay off other significant debts.
It’s for proper emergencies.
Unexpected tax bills, unemployment, medical emergencies etc.
The last thing you want to do is dip into the wrong account to pay off stuff like that.
(Like your savings or retirement account).
Build an emergency fund, and stash it away for when the time calls.
Finance Fix #4: Ditch The Debt Demons
This may seem like an obvious one…
But you’d be surprised how many people are in debt, let alone don’t even realize how much it’s holding them back from letting their money do some proper “work” for them!
When you’re in debt, you’re making someone else rich.
When you’re not in debt, you have the opportunity to make yourself rich.
When you get over the debt hump, you can put your money to better use, like investing, building a business or even your retirement.
The problem with debt though is the psychological shackles that come with it.
Getting out of debt can seem impossible at times, and can be extremely deflating.
Strangely enough this is probably one of the most popular new year’s resolutions.
I think it’s also one most don’t stick to either!
This resolution, like most others, tends to be forgotten within weeks…
But here are a few ideas to help you achieve your goals this year.
Step 1: Know how much you owe
It may sound simple, but this can be the hardest part
Some people are just plain afraid to know exactly how much they owe.
They’ll have a general idea or round figure, but they have no idea of the final amount.
No-one likes the reality that they owe a fat lump of cash, but if you want to get over it, the first step is knowing exactly how much you owe.
Find out what the number, or numbers are, and list them down.
That leads me to the next step.
Step 2: Create an action plan
Once you know how much you owe, you can build a plan of action.
Hopefully you’ll have established your budget, and have been tracking your spending, so you know exactly how much disposable income you have at the end of the day.
This in turn can help you commit an amount to paying off your debt every month.
Once you get some momentum, you can always go back and review your plan of action.
But those first steps of finding out exactly what you owe and then planning around it are vital to overcoming it.
The peace of mind that comes with a plan to tackle debt is awesome.
Mark the date in your calendar when you’ll officially be debt-free, and those psychological debt shackles will disappear sooner rather than later.
Step 3: Spend the right way
It’s so easy to spend!
In fact, research has indicated that when people buy stuff using credit cards they’re more likely to make impulse purchases on luxury items.
If this sounds familiar, you need to cut it out today.
Rather spend using cash.
Doing so creates a sense of ‘money awareness’.
It’s almost as if you can feel those crisp notes between your fingers something clicks in your mind, and you spend a little more cautiously.
How To Manage Your Money Before It Manages You
New year’s resolutions are sometimes hard to stick to.
We’ve all been there.
That’s why I wanted to share these financial fixes.
It’s not too late to make them if you haven’t already.
You need to build a budget if you don’t already have one.
Track your spending so you know exactly what’s going where and you know where to cut down.
Next, if you don’t have an emergency fund, start putting one together today.
Roughly 6 months’ worth of expenses should do it!
Lastly. If you’re in debt you need to do something about it.
Find out how much you owe, and create a plan of action.
Put these financial fixes into play and I guarantee you by the end of the year you’ll be able to change your financial destiny.
It’s not still too late to make a few resolutions that’ll make you rich, so get to it!
Until then, here’s to profitable money management.
The Money Lab