What To Do If You're Struggling With Your New Year's Financial Goals
What to do if You're Struggling with Your New Year's Financial Goals
A daily record of your expenditures allows you to see where you are spending your money, and also why you are spending your money.
I always start the New Year off with a goal of better money management. I usually give up after the first month because I have so much going on, and I am usually derailed by the high credit card bills I receive as a result of the holidays. Do you have any suggestions on how to stick with it?
Happy New Year! Many people suffer the same fate. As I respond to you, I think of the great diet I started last month, only to give up on last week! My first recommendation is to realize that money management is not a New Year's resolution; it is a life skill that needs to be fostered and honed in on a regular basis. There are some wonderful books and classes available that teach financial literacy. The following tips may educate you on some of those skills. Read: How to Make Good on your Financial New Year's Resolutions for more information.
I am a strong believer in journaling. In personal finance, we call it tracking our expenses. If I was to ask you exactly what you spent last month on everything you bought, would you be able to tell me? Most people could not. This is why keeping a financial journal is crucial. A daily record of your expenditures allows you to see where you are spending your money, and also why you are spending your money. The journal can help you make a determination of what your needs and wants are when making decisions about adjusting your spending.
I suggest starting small. Making abrupt, sizable changes can backfire. I have had clients that have shut off their cable, stopped eating out altogether, and rejected all entertainment. This equated to a substantial savings, but it made their modest quality of life quite boring. As a result, they quickly resorted to their old ways and gave up their goals. I suggest reviewing your journal after a month and make a decision about adjustments based on realistic goals. Perhaps reducing the cable and dining in restaurants once per week is a better start, then eliminating these items all together.
I am a strong advocate for SMART goals. Establishing a goal, even a small one, can give you something to strive for. An opened ended, lofty goal such as better money management may be hard to achieve because it may feel unattainable. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound. If your goal is to establish a down payment for a car, determine the exact amount you will need, how you will be able to get that amount together, make sure that the car you are hoping to purchase is affordable and the down payment is reasonable and lastly, pick the date to buy the car.
Lastly, seek help with your financial goal. If you are hoping to pay off debt, speak with one of our certified credit counselors, who can guide you in the most practical way to pay off debt. You can also receive guidance on establishing your budget and invaluable tools and resources. I wish you the best of luck, and a healthy and prosperous New Year! Please follow up with us so we may celebrate the achievement of your SMART goal!
Kim Cole is the Education Outreach Coordinator for Navicore Solutions. Kim provides financial education workshops and seminars to communities. Readers can submit general questions relating to personal finance, credit scoring, debt management, student loans, home finance or bankruptcy which may be highlighted in the next month's edition. All identifying information will be kept anonymous.
Please send your questions via email to DearKim@navicoresolutions.org