In the spirit of self improvement, people are always making resolutions. Lose weight and get fit are always top on the list. Spend more time with family and friends also comes up a lot. So does cutting out negativity, and spending money wisely. While we cannot help you with the first three, we can certainly give number four a try. A quick search reveals that of the top ten New Year’s Resolutions people make, three are related to money. This is probably partly brought on by guilt from excessive holiday spending. However, most people just want to learn to make better financial decisions.
Here’s how you do it:
- Make a budget and stick to it
You knew this was coming. You’ve been told many times to do it. In fact, you are tired of hearing it. Yet it cannot be stated enough! Budgets keep you accountable. They help you discover your spending patterns and literally force you to prioritize your expenses. It’s much harder to go on a mindless shopping spree when you plan what you will buy in advance. The great news about budgeting in the 21st century is that there are apps for that. It’s quite simple, really.
- Pay off debt
Getting rid of debt gets you closer to financial independence, but it can be an uphill task. The easiest way to go about it is to give yourself a deadline and then work backwards from there. Say you have a student loan and you give yourself a two-year timeline to refund it. You are now able to calculate how much you would need to pay monthly or weekly in order to meet your goal. Add that amount to your budget and ensure payments go out at regular intervals.
- Set savings/investments goals
It is all well and good to save money, but what is it for? A new house? School fees? A vacation at the Bahamas? If you do not have a savings or investments goal, you might end up squandering money you had managed to put aside. Take some time to think about what you want in life, figure out what it will cost you and then find an investment or savings package that will get you there.
- Have an rainy day fund
An emergency fund will help you cover those unexpected expenses without forcing you to rob a bank or acquire crippling debt. It is recommended that a rainy day fund be the equivalent of at least three months’ income. Try it, you’ll thank me later.
- Sleep on it
Our brains cannot resist a “good deal” and marketers know that. They also know that if you stop and think about it, you might change your mind, so they try and convince you that it is urgent.
“Flash Sale!” “LIMITED TIME ONLY!” “Do not miss out!” “Valid while Stocks Last!”
You see this and you must have it, NOW! But here’s my advice: sleep on it. If you still want it as much in the morning, then go and buy it. I can almost guarantee that you won’t.
In conclusion, having a handle on your finances not only makes you more self-sufficient and improves your quality of work but also boosts your confidence and discipline. It is a skill worth investing in.