Financial resolutions that last
Losing weight, quitting smoking, saving money and getting out of debt are among the most popular New Year's resolutions.
Unfortunately resolutions like these tend not to last long, particularly if there is no vision for how to make them work. Here's how you can get serious enough about your financial goals to achieve long term change.
Make a plan
Good intentions won't last long if they lack specifics. It's easy to say "I want to get my debt under control", but harder to sit down and work out a financial plan to achieve this. Whether it is one goal or a series, putting a plan in writing helps to track progress over time and gives you a foundation off which to make sound financial decisions.
Instead of going cold turkey, try making changes one step at a time. A small change a week can add up to big savings in the end whereas a sudden dramatic change is harder to stick to and more likely to backfire down the road.
Over the course of a few weeks, track every cent you spend as this will give you a clearer idea of where your money is going. There are online budgeting programs that help simplify the process of tracking spending.
Set aside time
Schedule a time each week to work on your finances. Without a scheduled time slot, it's easy to let all your hard work in compiling a financial plan slip and before you know it, paperwork has piled up, bills have gone unpaid and you are back where you started.
For a financial plan to work, everyone in the household must have a hand in making it a success. Ensure you and your partner can agree on and commit to your financial goals so there is no risk of one person secretly spending or overspending.
You never know what life can throw at you so be prepared for emergencies and unforeseen expenses. Set aside an emergency fund of at least 3 to 6 months basic living expenses to act as a stopgap if things go wrong.
Tell yourself that procrastination was last year's bad habit, and this year you are making a commitment to move ahead with your financial goals. Remember it's never too late to make a change for the better - today is the starting point for the rest of your life.