At the beginning of each year, people love to make (and break) their New Year’s resolutions. It has become a tradition, a turning over of a new leaf, a time to think about things that need changed and then resolve to change them. Unfortunately what usually happens is that the change lasts but a few weeks; a month or two at the most. The reason is that most New Year’s resolutions are just too difficult. They are too big, and people get bogged down with their habits and fail to commit to the new ones. This year make these 5 easy resolutions to help keep yourself financially healthy.
If you do not have an emergency fund already, you really need to get started with one. This January set up a simple savings account. It does not matter where, just make sure that it is FDIC insured, you can link it to your checking account, and you can set it up for automatic deposits (don’t worry, nearly every savings account out there allows for this). Once the account is set up, have $25 moved from your checking to your savings the day after your get each paycheck. Your emergency fund won’t grow huge at this rate, but the biggest hurdle is getting started. It is easy to increase by $5 here and there.
Do you have a financial statement? It does not need to be long and complex, but it is important to have to make sure you are on track with your goals. My financial statement is done in Excel so that the math is automatic; I just set up the template. The top of the statement has my assets, the bottom has my liabilities, and the final line has my net worth. I like to update monthly, but you could do every 3 or 6 months. Once it is set up it takes about 10 minutes to update it.
There is only so much that you can cut from your budget. That is why I have written to you in the past that the best way to increase your net worth is to earn money on the side. Everyone has talents, and every talent can be monetized. This January sit down for an hour and think of all the things you like to do. Then think of how you could sell that service or product and make money at it. If that is all you want to do, then that is a start. But I suggest following through and start bringing in an extra few hundred dollars per month (or more).
We live in a fast paced world. We get emails on our phone, we try to multi-task, and we take on more than we really should. Instead of constantly working (and wearing yourself out), have 2014 be the year when you invest in yourself. Simply take 1 hour per day where you turn off the work and you relax. Read a book, work on a hobby, take a nap, or simply watch a movie. Just no using the phone, email, or anything else work related. Self improvement is always a plus.
If you are reading this, then you are most likely wealthier than 90% (or more) of the world. You probably make more per hour than many people do in an entire day. In 2014, you can make the commitment to help someone else without any real burden to you. Can you work overtime? Work an extra 15 minutes twice per week. Your monthly paycheck will have 2 extra hours on it (at $20 per hour that is an extra $40 per month). You can then donate that $40 to a worthwhile charity (I use Charity Navigator to help make sure my donations are allocated properly). Overtime not an option? Donate a couple hours per month to your local Rescue Mission or Salvation Army.
Life has a way of sneaking up on us. In the rush we can forget to take time to make our lives, and the lives of those around us, better. Every single one of these resolutions could be done in a single Saturday during January (although you would want to keep them going). If you want to start keeping your resolutions, instead of having that regret that you ALMOST made it to February this year, go with small and easy resolutions like these. They may not seem like much, but they will make a huge impact on your financial well-being.