It’s that time of year again and we’re in the mindset where we begin to think about the things we’d like to do better next year. Financial resolutions are often high on the list with much “spend less, save more” promises that never seem to quite make it past Valentines Day.
Plan For The Future
Create A Financial Plan: Getting started with improving your finances requires first developing a plan for success. A financial plan is the foundation upon which all your plans exist. Without this plan, it’s impossible to have goal directed success as it relates to your finances. This helps you decide whether that purchase you’re about to make coincides with your values and goals. So in essence, it becomes the compass that helps you get to your wealthy destination.
Action: Use this financial plan template to get started. Fill it out as directed and then use it to guide your plans for the new year and beyond.
Develop a budget or spending plan that actually works for you based on where you are right now. Don’t go cold turkey if you know that won’t work for you. Instead, try reducing your spending in critical areas slowly until it “feels right”. One mistake we often make us cutting these out cold turkey which actually backfires down the road. Unless you have really good discipline, slowly but surely wins this race.
- Take a look at your spending over the last 3-6 months by aggregating your accounts into Yodlee
- Check where you’ve fallen short, for example spending $500 on happy hours and eating out which leads to your account being overdrawn, well you might want to start there.
- Decide how much you need to cut back in each category. Start off with $250 for the above-mentioned example.
- Create a new budget based on the template you select here.
- Use the next 2 weeks to test drive your budget. Review your spending weekly to determine where you need to tweak things a bit. This is an ongoing process, but as you go along, it gets easier.
Get Your Credit In Check
Check your Credit for errors, collections, judgements, late payments and possible liens. If necessary, start the credit repair process in order to remove derogatory items. Sign up for a credit monitoring service that will allow you to consistently and actively manage your credit so that you aren’t blindsided when applying for new credit down the road.
Develop a plan to begin the credit repair process
Decide which debts you will pay off and what other accounts need negotiation around a new payment plan for settlement or removing late payments in exchange for paying off the whole balance. Tip: If the account has already reported on your credit report, call when you have enough to pay half, more than half or the whole balance. This way you have leverage and better able to negotiate removal of the derogatory information. This agreement must be given to you in writing.
- Check your credit report. There’s always a section which lists your creditor’s contact information. Call them to discuss the account and what possible remedies are available to you.
- For the accounts that you have decided to pay off. Check out these debt reduction strategies and see which one works for you. The debt snowball method tends to be the most popular but it may not work or be appropriate for every situation.
Schedule Time With Your Money
Set up a time to review the above-mentioned tasks every week. Staying on top of these issues develops a habit that you’ll need in order to cultivate financial discipline.
What are your financial resolutions for next year? How have you fallen short this year and how to you plan to change things next year?