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The new year is upon us and with a new year comes new goals, most of which come with financial requirements or commitments attached. Is your goal to pay off debt, buy a new house or car, take a trip to somewhere new, take up a new exciting hobby? What about get in shape or start eating healthier?
Even if your plans for 2017 don’t require a sizable chunk of savings, there is a possibility you still need a budget refresh to realign your finances with your new goals. Here are a few tips to kick-start the new year. Read more below:
Refresh your budget – Can you recall the last time you sat down and analyzed your budget in depth? If not, chances are your financial needs have changed. It can be easy to fall into the grooves of a bad financial habit and it may be time to count them up- down to the penny. Take a hard look at your spending habits over the most recent months then make time to create a new budget from scratch and see how they compare. With a fresh budget, you will have a fresh outlook on the coming year and have a clear pathway towards your new goals.
Pad your emergency fund – Looking back at this past year, did you come across any financial roadblocks that slowed your ability to save or kept you from obtaining any of your financial goals? Padding your emergency fund can help alleviate those times of unwanted surprise. Challenge yourself by padding your emergency fund this year so next time you encounter a bump in the road, you won't have to make a complete stop.
Separate your Savings Accounts – Whether you have $50 or $5000 in savings, it can be tricky deciding exactly what it is for; emergencies, travel, treating yourself to that new TV, down payment on your next car, etc. When all of your savings is pooled into one big pile, you’re just left drawing imaginary lines to determine how much goes to which purpose. The best way to save is have a separate savings stash for your needs; one for today – your emergency fund, tomorrow – your short-term goal, and way down the line – your retirement.
Start a Holiday Club Account – In line with keeping your savings separate, don’t forget about the holiday. The holiday season can be stressful between the cost of gifts and travel to see family members near and far. Having a set budget at the holiday season can relieve that stress giving you a finite amount to work with. Using a holiday club, you can have a set amount automatically moved into the account each pay period, once a month, every week, or however often you like. You can earn interest on your funds all year long and when it comes time for the holiday, your holiday club will be the ultimate gift to yourself – a stress free holiday season!
Develop new financial habits – Are you guilty of having items sitting around the house that don’t get any use? Or maybe you have a talent for talking yourself into those impulse buys every time you find yourself in a big box store. Make it a habit to check your account balance, including pending items, on your smart phone App every time you get in your car- before turning the key. Doing so will reset your awareness of your financial balances and keep your needs in fresh focus before you trek down the aisle of temptation.
Plant reminders of your goals – Try writing your goals places that will be seen often. For example, if you’re planning a trip this year, place a picture of your destination in the dashboard of your car, or tucked in the slot with your debit or credit card in your wallet. Better yet, plant a reminder of your goal on the inside jacket of your phone case.