By Cheryl Steinberg
You hear it every year at New Year’s: “Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.” You might be struggling financially but the good news is that there are things you can do to tip the scales in your favor. Here are 11 New Year’s financial resolutions you should be making this year.
#1. Have an emergency fund
The idea of an emergency fund is to save enough money to get you through three- to six months of unemployment. That’s the average amount of time it takes to get a new job. Think of an emergency fund like a buffer – it protects you from unforeseen financial circumstances, such as an emergency vet bill or having to pay for a tow truck and new tire if you get a flat on the highway.
#2. Realize that you’re emotional about money
When it comes to money, everyone their own “story.” For some, growing up poor means that they are always worried about having enough money and feeling unstable, even if they are doing pretty well in their adulthood. For many, being able to spend money brings with it a lot of meaning. Being able to provide for themselves or feeling like the newest gadget will bring them some new level of happiness is a powerful driving force behind their spending habits.
Try to practice being emotionally unattached from money and seeing it as another thing you get to balance, such as career, relationships, and family.
#3. Negotiate everything
Try negotiating on ALL of your monthly bills. You probably don’t know this but, many states, allow you to choose who provides your electricity, and therefore you can cut your bill dramatically – you know, the whole idea behind market competition and capitalism.
#4. Set up a savings account – and use it!
It’s not savings until it goes into a savings account that is separate from your checking account.
#5. Make a budget
Make an itemized list of all the things you spend your money on and how much you spend. Be sure to include everything – necessities like bills as well as leisure and recreation costs. Go line-by-line, ranking items from most important (i.e. rent, utilities) to least important (i.e. movies, eating out).
#6. Trim the fat
Now, take a look at your budget. That daily trip to Starbucks will really add up but, if you absolutely love buying your custom-made latte, then keep doing it. The catch: look for other places where you can cut back on your spending. Maybe you can eat in another night or two instead of going out to a restaurant. “Figure out the stuff you bought that doesn’t serve you or that you’re not taking full advantage of: Do you really need to spend $9.99 a month on Spotify? Are you using that gym membership? Can you save a few bucks on your wireless bill?
#7. Sell your stuff online
It’s not just about saving money; it’s about generating it. You can earn more than your regular paycheck each month by selling the stuff you don’t need or use on sites like Craigslist and eBay.
#8. Buy second-hand
You can make some really cool thrift store finds, if you’re willing to put a little effort in searching through the merchandise. If your taste is a little more discerning than Goodwill, consider more upscale second-hand stores like Plato’s Closet. Good deals can also be found on eBay and Craigslist.
#9. Google “coupon” along with whatever you’re planning to buy
This is especially a good idea if you’re in the market for a big-ticket item, like a TV – there are a billion coupon sites.
#10. Google anything you plan to spend money on
With all the price-matching that retail shops offer these days, and with all of it at your fingertips, it doesn’t take much time or effort to research what you need and find the best offers.
#11. Set realistic goals
People often make the mistake of setting massive, unrealistic goals when they first set out making financial resolutions. Most of the things worth saving for are the expensive, big ticket items. When our New Year’s financial resolution excitement wears off by February and we’re not seeing drastic enough progress, our motivation levels plummet. Be realistic. And patient.
Looking to make the ultimate New Year’s Resolution and start living the life you were destined to live? Well, it’s totally possible and now’s a better time than any to start! Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions.