It’s a new year, so that means a new you. Isn’t that the high hope that most of us set during this time of year? Whether your focus is on improving your health, finances or even picking up a new hobby in 2016, if you’ve already set the goal, you’re one step closer to achieving it!
Although we aren’t going to give you tips on health or new hobbies to invest time in, we are going to provide you with advice on figuring out your finances. So, for anyone hoping to make their 2016 a little “greener” (or hoping to make a little more green in 2016), we’ve compiled a few financial New Year’s resolutions:
1. Set a budget and stick to it.
With the advancement of online banking, most financial institutions include a handy budgeting tool built into your online bank account. However there are online sources like Mint.com, BudgetTracker.com and many other sites that also offer great visibility into your financial picture. Online budgeting tools allow you to see where exactly you are spending your money and help you to set budgets of how much you should be limiting yourself to in order to save for your future (mortgage, debt, retirement…etc.). Make this year the year that you get familiar with your finances; select a budgeting tool, make realistic monthly budgeting goals and stick to them.
2. Make Financial Management a Family Affair.
In some households, one spouse may hold the financial reigns while the other carries other important responsibilities, like maintaining the home maintenance or cleaning schedules. But, when two people understand the overall financial picture and are held responsible for budgeting, it is a lot easier to accomplish your financial goal. So tag-team those budgeting responsibilities for a better shot at success.
3. Eat Away Your Debt.
Let’s face it, debt is not an appealing topic of conversation and is a major hindrance in seeing a clear financial picture. So why not make it interesting and turn it into a competition with your significant other, friends or family members. Vow to put an aggressive amount of your income toward debt each month, no matter how many birthdays, dinner dates or happy hours you’ve got planned. Then, give yourself a little monthly allowance. Put any leftover money from those allowances toward your debt. Check back on your contributions mid-year to see who’s in the lead, then check back at the end of the year to see which person contributed the most to their debt. You’ll be happy when the debt is gone, plus a little competition may just less-in the blow of paying it off.
4. Build an Emergency Fund.
We’ve all been advised to save enough money to cover six months of our expenses in the event of a job loss or other life-altering situation. But, it is probably safe to say that a majority of people would not be prepared if something such as those situations were to actually happen. This resolution may take some time, particularly if you’re also working to aggressively pay down any debt, but those are not excuses to let this resolution fail before you even begin! Work your emergency fund allocation into your monthly budget. Most of us probably won’t be able to save a six month emergency fund in one year, but at least you will have started putting a decent amount of money towards the fund by the end of 2016.
A fairly sure-fire way to increase your earnings is by investing. In hopes of increasing your wealth in 2016, talk with a financial advisor about possible bonds, stocks or mutual funds that may be worth considering. And, for goodness sake, if you’re not contributing toward your 401K yet, put that resolution on the very top of your New Year’s list!
Whipping your finances into shape will help you save money for your future, whether that be to purchase a home, vehicle, retirement, etc…, and help you reduce your debt. Although we rang in the new year a little over a week ago, we can still cheers to a happy and financially healthy 2016!