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Every year, millions of Americans resolve to make some change in their lives. We offer five steps anyone can take to improve their financial situation in 2019.
Every year, millions of Americans resolve to make some change in their lives. More than a third of those that make one each year are hoping to make a positive change on their finances, specifically on the amount of money they have in the bank.
While coming up with the resolution is easy, actually making it happen and sticking with it for 12 months is a different matter entirely. With that in mind, we want to help you stick to your resolution in 2019.
First: Set goals that are attainable and well defined.
Hoping to become a millionaire in 12 months probably isn’t the best idea for a resolution. Setting an aim you can realistically hit, however, makes your chances of actually doing so much better.
Also, don’t make vague goals. Saying “I want to save more money” isn’t as effective as, “I want to put $10,000 in my retirement fund by Dec. 31.”
Whether that’s saving for a major purchase like a new car or home, paying something off like a loan or credit card debt, or just trying to end the year with a certain amount in the bank, make your goal a specific and realistic one, and you’ll have a better chance of reaching it.
Second: Know where your money goes.
Saving money more often than not means cutting back somewhere. You can’t make any necessary changes to your spending habits until you know exactly where your money is going.
First, jot down where you think you spend your money. Second, get your bank statements for the past couple of months and look at where your money is actually going, including rent, bills, groceries, gas, bank and credit card fees. Compare the two and you’ll probably notice you’re spending money on things you didn’t realize, or more money than you thought on some items.
Start going through and looking at where cuts can be made. Maybe it’s eating out less often, making coffee at home instead of picking it up on the way to work, maybe it’s memberships you’re no longer using but still paying for.
Once you find the holes where money is falling through and plug them, you’ll find saving is a lot easier.
Third: In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
How you talk about your goals and plans matter. “I would like to” or “I’m going to try to” aren’t as definitive as “I will.” Speaking about your goals in absolutes will force you to take them more seriously and feel more confident in your ability to reach them.
Also, set dates. Get a calendar or use your smartphone’s calendar and set benchmarks as to where you would like to be in your goal at certain points. And use them.
“I will cut my debt by 50% on June 1stand 100% by Dec. 31.” is much better than, “I will try and pay off my debts by the end of the year.”
Fourth: Stay Positive
There are likely to be setbacks during the year, especially from unexpected expenses. Don’t fret and don’t let yourself get negative.
Negativity is the easiest way to abandon your plan, especially early on. No one said this would be easy; change rarely is. But with a positive attitude, you can stay on track.
If or when something happens; stop, reevaluate, and look at how to get back on course. It’ll take a little work, but it’s nothing you can’t do. Keep a positive attitude and you’ll be back on track in no time.
Fifth: Start as early as possible.
The longer you wait to start, the less time you have to achieve your goal.
Sit down on January 1stand get to work. Make your plan, make your schedule, start your budget, and start working toward your goal.
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