The start of the New Year is a great time to “turn over a new leaf”, so to speak, and over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing ideas and resources to help you achieve your 2012 goals. Be sure to check out this list of ebooks to support your resolutionsas well!
What are your financial goals for 2012? Whether you’re already careful with your money and looking to achieve new milestones or you’ve reached the point where you know something has to change, making financial goals is an important part about being intentional with your money.
Like any goals, it’s important than your financial resolutions be specific and concrete.
Here are a few common goals and some ideas to help you achieve them:
Make and Stick to a Budget
For the first time ever, Sean and I have been using a cash budget, and it’s pretty empowering to know exactly how much we’re spending and how much is left. If you’ve struggled in the past with actually sticking to a budget, the physical act of using cash is a great strategy to force you to think about your spending.
Here are some more budgeting strategies to eliminate leaks from your bank account!
Pay Off Debt
Is debt weighing you down? I am not convinced that all debt is bad, but I am convinced that debt has an emotional — not to mention financial — impact on our lives. Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet while paying hundreds of dollars in interest each month or simply discouraged by the amount you’re paying to creditors, then now is a great time to tackle the goal of paying off your debt.
Imagine what you could do without the payments you’re making to creditors. While paying off debt requires sacrifice, the benefits are well worth the effort!
Dave Ramsey is an incredibly inspiring author and speaker. I don’t adhere to all of his principles, but listening to The Total Money Makeover on tape revolutionized the way we think about money and inspired us to pay off all of our debts.
Build an Emergency Fund
Once you have a budget and you’ve paid off your debt, it’s time to start securing your future with an emergency fund. Depending on who you ask, an emergency fund should have enough to cover 3-8 months worth of expenses in an emergency. Obviously that can take quite a while to build up for most of us, so add an item to your budget specifically for that purpose and have the money automatically transferred to savings to make sure it really happens!
Save Money on Everyday Purchases
Most of us spend a l0t more each month than we really have to. With some simple strategies, you can save more than you might think:
- Evaluate your regular bills. Do you actually use each service you pay for? (Unused gym membership, anyone?) Can you save money by changing plans, requesting a discount or signing up for automatic billing? If you’re being charged for usage (long distance, electricity, water), can you reduce your usage?
- Evaluate your spending habits. Are you making small, discretionary purchases without a lot of thought? Could you save money by avoiding stores, packing snacks in your purse or carpooling to work?
- Look for ways to save on necessities. All in Good Time is packed full of ideas for saving on everything from groceries to gas. Even saving a few dollars here and a few dollars there adds up.
Financial freedom is possible, and while it’s often tempting to turn a blind eye toward money issues because thinking about them can be stressful, the benefits of getting control of your finances and making your money work for you are well worth the effort!
What are your financial resolutions for 2012?