Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s already a new year, but I am unbelievably excited for what it has in store for me, my family, my finances, and my business.
Have you thought about how you want the new year to go, either financially or otherwise? I want to rock it as the best financial year I have ever had, and I am determined that this will be the year that I pay off my credit card debt completely, build my business, and create an emergency fund.
We’re just a few days into the new year, and I hope I can hang on to this excitement to see me through to the completion of my goals. The end of the year and the completion of my goals are a long ways off, though. So, if I want to have any hope of success, I need to make sure that I start the year out right.
This is why I’ve made a list of 16 ways to create a great financial start to the new year. My first financial goal for the new year is to complete every one of these 16 things before January 31.
Wish me luck!
1. Learn From My Mistakes
If you want to have success in the New Year, look back at the previous year and assess your mistakes.
By finding a way to work with your weaknesses, instead of against them, you’ll have a better chance of success and avoiding more mistakes.
For example, do you have a penchant for new shoes? Instead of trying to cut that out of your life completely, build it into your budget in a way you can afford.
If new shoes are part of your entertainment budget, you won’t have to feel guilty about your new purchase, instead of going over budget.
We all make mistakes, but boy were some of my money mistakes a doozy. I’m not going to let my failings last year prevent me from trying even harder this year. I need to learn from my mistakes and move forward!
2. Set New Money Goals
I set a few money goals that worked pretty well to keep us motivated last year, but I’ve decided that I need to set new goals.
I’m a different person than I was last year, so I need to have my financial goals change with me. If you don’t change your goals as you change and grow, then you won’t be motivated to be successful.
It doesn’t mean that my goals from last year weren’t good enough. It just means that I have new, great things in store for myself.
3. Create a Visual
When setting goals, it’s really helpful to have a visual to keep you on track. Last year I put up paper chains to represent our debt. While we’re still going to stick with the chains, this year I also want to create a visual that I can add to. I want to focus on both savings and debt reduction, so I’m going to need to create some kind of new visual.
4. Find an Accountability Partner
Nothing beats having an accountability partner to keep you on track with your financial goals. This year, I really want to have someone who I can call, and vice versa, who will keep me on top of my finances and hold me accountable.
For you it could be your friend, your family, or your personal finance blog, but having someone or something to keep you on track will help you to stay the course and reach your goals in the coming year.
Kayla’s Note: I’ve had an accountability partner for a few years now and it’s definitely been key in helping me make progress with my goals.
5. Build a New Budget
New year, new finances. Your numbers might stay the same, but you should still sit down and get a fresh start with your budget to make sure it’s accurate. You also need to make sure it will work as a tool to help you meet your goals. I plan on sitting down and building a new budget. You should, too.
6. Check My Credit Score
This is a really embarrassing moment of truth as someone who writes about finances… I don’t know what my credit score is. I have never checked.
So, I’m going to take a deep breath, and just do it.
I can’t work toward improvement if I don’t know what I’m trying to improve. I plan to check my credit score for free with Credit Sesame so I don’t harm my score or have to pay to pull it.
7. Decide What Money System Works Best for My Goals
I keep flip-flopping on which system works best for our financial goals (i.e. money envelope vs. Personal Capital, etc.). I need to commit.
8. Pick at Least One “Money-Eater” to Get Rid Of
Do you have any money-eaters? I have a ton. My biggest is my penchant for eating out when I’m tired or stressed. I hate cooking after a long day and calling that number for Chinese is so. much. easier. than dirtying a bunch of pans.
But, it’s also a whole lot more expensive. I need to nip that habit in the bud starting now. Because the earlier I start, the sooner it will become a habit. And the sooner it becomes a habit, the sooner it becomes a way of life.
Kayla’s note: My biggest money eater used to be my cable bill until I switched to Hulu.
9. Schedule Regular Finance Dates
I am determined that this will be the year of finance dates. Once every month or every other month just doesn’t cut it anymore. I want to establish (actually put on the calendar) at least two finance dates a month to help us stay on track.
10. Put a Decently Sized Deposit into an Emergency Fund
This month I am going to start building my emergency fund. I hope to have a $2,000 emergency savings fund by December.
If my husband and I both pull $84 each month from our paychecks to add to the fund, we’ll be able to reach our goals.
11. Make My First Retirement Fund Contribution of the Year
A new year means a new chance to max out my Roth IRA!
12. Clean Out Closets to Make a Charity Donation
What better way to start the new year than by adding a charity receipt to my tax file for next year, while simultaneously getting rid of the clutter I ran of time to get rid of before the year ended?
13. Recognize My Financial Weaknesses
I need to recognize my weaknesses. For example, I know that staying on budget isn’t something I thrive at. So, I need to focus on keeping track of the money flow in the new year.
14. Focus on Your Money Strengths
Even though I may not rock at budgets, but I do have financial strengths. I am going to focus on those strengths to make up for my weaknesses.
15. Replace Inefficient Things with Eco-alternatives
I want to start the year out right and get rid of the things in our life that are needlessly using up money…like paper napkins and tin foil. Finding alternatives might just save pennies per week, but those pennies add up over the course of a year.
16. Schedule a Cheat Day
Just like with dieting, I’m going to schedule a cheat day where I am able to spend a little bit more that I usually would. If you want to stay on top of your goals and your budget, sometimes you need to indulge a little to motivate yourself to keep going. I know if I don’t schedule a cheat day for Chinese food, I’m going to lose my motivation pretty quickly.
It’s Time to Get Started!
That’s it! 16 ways to start my new year out on a good footing to help myself reach my financial goals. Pick a few, or use them all, and get yourself headed in the right direction with your finances for a brand new year.
How is your financial start to the new year going? Anything you need to change or work on? What is your motivation to reach your new goals?
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