The following post is from Christina of Northern Cheapskate:
Many people make financial New Year’s Resolutions. They pledge to get out of debt, save more money, or to start using coupons.
Those are all good goals to have. But if you really want to improve your finances, you’re going to have to get at the core issues of what is affecting those areas of your life. It’s not enough to say that you hope to get out of debt. You have to embrace the lifestyle changes necessary to make that goal happen.
Improve these five areas of your life, and you’ll be on track to improving your finances:
Attitude is everything when it comes to managing your money. If you want to change your financial situation, you’ve got to stop excusing bad behaviors. You need to accept your past money mistakes and to stop the self-talk that keeps you broke and unhappy. Carrie Rocha’s new book, Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress & Keep More of What You Make is an excellent guide to re-framing your mindset for financial success.
One of the biggest stressors in a marriage is money. Problems begin when couples don’t talk about their finances. You and your significant other need to function as a team. Chat regularly about your financial situation, brainstorm ways to improve it together, and be honest with each other about your spending. Your relationship will grow and so will your savings when you start to work together.
And good communication doesn’t just involve spouses. Be sure to have frank conversations with family members and friends about your finances. Learn to say “no” to things you can’t afford, and not let guilt throw you off track from your financial goals. Chances are good that you’re not alone when it comes to money worries, and if you’re willing to talk about them, you just may be able to come up with more solutions than if you struggled alone.
Have you ever been late with a bill because you put it in a “safe place” and then forgot about it? Bought a new shirt only to realize that you have three just like it in your closet? Being organized can really help you save money. Develop a system for managing your incoming mail, keep a family binder to organize important information, and keep a detailed inventory of your pantry with free printables. Use Evernote to keep track of what you have and what you need. Plan ahead for maintenance costs and shop for gifts all year round. When you have a plan and a place for the things in your life, you can avoid wasting time and money on things you don’t need.
Sometimes our habits and rituals cost us more money than we realize. I recently realized that I was drinking 4 to 5 cans of diet soda a day. At that rate, I was blowing through $35 to $50 a month on a beverage that wasn’t good for me. I realized I had to deal with my soda habit, after I discovered I was opening a new can of pop before I even finished the old one. I am now making efforts to swap some of the fizzy stuff for water.
For some of you, your habits could be smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, playing the lottery, eating out, or doing recreational shopping. Take a look at what habits you have and whether you could change those habits to save money.
Breaking some of your habits like smoking or drinking can greatly improve your health and save you money, too. Eating less meat, buying less processed foods (or growing your own food!) can have a big impact on your health and wallet. Lose weight. Exercise is good for your health, and it doesn’t have to cost much: Go for a walk, play with the kids, or set a timer and get cleaning! Learn how to reduce stress in your life in healthy ways and get a good night’s sleep.
When you take better care of your health, you’ll feel better. And when you feel better, you’ll have more money. You won’t have to spend so much on prescriptions, doctor visits, larger clothes, vices, or retail “therapy.”
Take a holistic approach to your life, and you will find that it will be easier to spend less money, save more, and eliminate debt for good when you improve your finances.
Which area are YOU going to improve in 2013?
|Christina Brown is the creator of Northern Cheapskate, a blog dedicated to frugal living through coupons, freebies, and money-saving ideas. She lives in the rural north woods of Minnesota where she clips coupons, pinches pennies, and chases her three boys (a 7-year-old and twin 5-year olds) as a stay-at-home mom.|