It’s a new year! Are you as ready as I am to do things a little differently or even refine areas that may need a little more attention this year? Here’s the thing about handling money—there are many strategies you can use to become more effective or push you closer towards your financial goals. However, the only ones that truly work are those you actually implement.
I am certain that if you’ve tried many things that didn’t work out in your favor, you may be feeling a bit burned out by now. Do you have any idea why this happens? You guessed it—you’re probably OVERWHELMED. Believe it or not, most people typically quit or give up early on because the simply feel completely overwhelmed. To create a bit of mental and financial ease this year, here are a few new ways to manage your money in the new year.
BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
No more hitting the snooze button on your finances. Financial dishonesty with yourself is not only mentally draining, it prevents you from ever moving forward with taking action. There are a few things that you should take into consideration.
- Be honest about how much money you earn each month.
- Be honest about how much money you spend each month.
- Be honest about the level of commitment you plan to give your finances this year.
While there may be roadblocks along the way, there is a level of importance that we must place around where we truly are with our money matters. This may be an area that you have avoided altogether in the past; however, I assure you that being well-informed provides a base for your financial platform to build from.
Make this year the moment that you change your mindset and become more money-wise about your finances. This is the number one step on your quest towards financial wellness.
PLAN FOR A SUCCESSFUL YEAR
Resolutions or goal setting can sometimes seem vague. Goals that aren’t specific often leave room for negotiation. You can avoid the continuous cycle of setting resolutions that have the potential of falling by the wayside by planning ahead. There will always be an unexpected expense that comes up, but being prepared for them makes all the difference. For example:
Focus on consistently stashing cash aside for small or large occurrences. Let’s say you’ve allocated $100 for an upcoming concert… This year, try a new approach and use that money to plan for a flat tire, unexpected dental expense, or time that you may miss from work as a result of caring for a sick child.
While it would be great to think that we never have to choose between emergencies and the fun stuff, the truth is often times we do. Choose one specific goal that you would like to accomplish. This could range from saving up $1,000 for emergency expenses or paying off your credit card bill with the highest interest rate. Plan for a successful year by making your goals concrete and attainable.
CONSIDER LIFESTYLE CHANGES
There are plenty of indirect things that impact your finances. Being willing and open to changing some of your lifestyle habits could help your financial situation greatly improve. One thing that causes financial setbacks for a lot of people is eating out. If you have a desire to truly tighten up your finances, make it a point to start cooking at home. It can help erase a huge dent in your monthly expenses. Try easing into this by choosing specific days of the week or weekends to give yourself a pass from cooking. Maximize this effort by visiting restaurants that offer specials on specific nights, or where kids eat free, and don’t forget to sign up for any birthday freebies!
Another lifestyle change to take advantage of is finding ways to stay fit at home without having to spend money on a gym membership. There are tons of free blogs and online resources available that teach you exercises and ways to eat balanced, nutritional meals. Find a few, try them out, and go from there.
Other lifestyle changes can be even bigger. If you live in a city with a transit system, consider getting rid of your car and using the city metro to save money on a car payment, insurance, and gas.
Remember to keep your reason for cutting back at the center of everything you do. Without clear intentions towards your goal, it’s much easier to fall back on old habits.
GET YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS INVOLVED
You will always be more successful on your financial journey when you have a tribe of people that support your efforts. Make it known by getting your spouse, children, and even your friends involved. The greatest benefit of telling others about the expectations you have for your finances is that it becomes more real and others are then a part of holding you accountable. Celebrate the liberation that comes from this. Similar to being honest with yourself, announcing to family and friends that you are making a financial shift removes any previous denial.
Ask your support team to periodically check in with you on how you’re progressing. Doing this keeps your goals fresh and at the top of your mind throughout the year.
As you explore new ways to manage your money in the new year remember your commitments. Even the best of intentions can fall short without solid planning, commitment, and willpower. What new ways will you use to manage your money in the new year?
This is a post in partnership with Marsha Barnes, of the Finance Bar. Green Dot has supported her with compensation for her financial expertise and blog contributions.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Green Dot Corporation.