Many of us have made a financial resolution for this New Year, and many of us have already broken it.
Part of the problem of a broken financial resolution is that it is not realistic.
Broken or not, keep with your financial resolution, but make it attainable.
If you would like to be in a better financial situation this time next year, plan on adjusting your financial resolution so you can actually stick to it.
Take these resolutions for instance:
Financial Resolution Tip: Update Your Budget
If you haven’t updated your budget in a while, it’s time to get that done. Since your last update, you may have gotten a raise, incurred new bills, had a child, and so on, which means your budget is out of date.
A great way to keep track of your finances is using the Mint.com budget template. This real-time budgeting system keeps your personal financial records and follows how much income and outgo you have. You can also opt to have Mint.com send you text messages when you are getting too close to maxing out your budget.
Financial Resolution Tip: Don’t Spend More than You Have
Credit cards are tempting to use, especially when we don’t have the cash on hand to pay for that item we want. However, whether you’re buying a few items at the grocery store or purchasing a single large item, try to adopt a cash only strategy. Forcing yourself to spend only cash will help your stick within your means more easily.
While this is a great option for most, some business people may benefit more from using their credit cards. If you have the will power, keep good enough records, and only use your credit card for business expenses, you can reap the rewards of cash-back or frequent flyer miles. Again, this strategy is for those that know how much they plan on spending, have a great rewards credit card, and know they will pay their balance at the end of the month.
Financial Resolution Tip: Prioritize Your Wants and Needs (and Your Childs’)
Everyone has wants and needs, but the line differentiating between the two can sometimes be blurred. Learning to prioritize your spending can lead to huge savings in the long run. This means not buying the 52-inch LCD television just because it’s $50 off or giving in every time you child wants the latest and greatest toy or video game.
Financial Resolution Tip: Time for Retirement Planning
Does your company provide a 401K plan? Or are you participating in an IRA or Roth IRA retirement plan or do you even know the difference between the IRA and Roth IRA? This could be the perfect time to take advantage of these programs. Many companies provide a matching retirement plan, meaning they will match your contributions, basically giving you free money.
If your company doesn’t provide a suitable retirement plan, look into plans that your bank offers. For instance, you can choose to contribute to the right IRA plan and have a decent nest egg stored up for when you retire.
Financial Resolution Tip: Are you Ready for Emergencies?
If the hot water heater broke, would you have the cash on hand to fix it, or would it be cold showers for the next few months? Be better prepared for these types of emergencies by having an emergency fund.
Open a separate liquid savings account that you won’t touch unless of a complete emergency. There’s no right number for this, since every person’s finances are different; however, work toward an amount that is equal to 4 to 6 months of expenses and build on that.
This is the year to take control of your finances, and by changing your resolution from being a multi-millionaire by next year to simply saving up 6 months’ worth of expenses you’ll be much better off and less likely to skimp out on your goals.
Maya Szydlowski is a community manager and blogger for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s top dedicated VA lender.