We made it! Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to welcome 2018. What are your New Year’s resolutions? Save more? Spend less? Pay off debt? Invest in the stock market? Improve your credit score? All of the above?
Studies show only 8 percent of people persevere long enough to slay their annual promises to themselves. Rather than getting out of formation before you even start, let’s figure out how to make some lemonade out of these annual lemons. #QueenBeyAllDay
Reviewing our financial lives and setting financial goals is not just a top of the year exercise. To achieve our goals, staying focused on money management dos and don’ts have to be priority all year long. Everyone has areas in their financial life that are sound and strong. Conversely, there are likely areas that require a bit more focus, attention and dedication.
How do we start the year off on the right foot and not feel like a failure by January 15? I have a few ideas.
Believe in yourself!
This sounds hokey and touchy feely (I can see your eye rolls), but don’t underestimate the importance. I firmly believe that better money management is more a function of how we THINK about money and less about what we DO with money. Thoughts drive behavior. Behavior drives action. Action drives results. When you have that “(wo)man in the mirror” meeting with yourself, and finally DECIDE to FOCUS on your financial life and truly BELIEVE your goals are attainable, you will see positive change. No question. Time to get your mind right!
What are you working with?
Establish a baseline TODAY! You must take inventory of your financial life. Do you have a handle on your monthly cash inflows and outflows? Do you know the value of your assets (your home, 401K, business interests) and how much you have in liabilities (mortgage, student loans, credit card debt)? Have you pulled your credit report? Side note: you can pull your free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. Have you completed – dare I say it – a budget?
It will be difficult to pave a road forward without knowing exactly where you are today. Sure, it can be very scary to have your entire financial picture written out in front of you. You will probably see things you don’t like. But the truth shall set you free. Take a deep breath and be proud that you have taken a critical first step.
Where do you want to be?
Now that you know what you are working with, you can begin thinking about where you want to be. This is the slippery slope. Some of us will say I want to improve my credit score by 300 points in 30 days!! No my friends. Eminent failure.
Here is where you set incremental, attainable goals that keep you encouraged and moving down YOUR path to financial success. Can you start an emergency fund by setting aside $10 a month? Can you invest an additional 1 percent in your 401K? Can you pay an extra $50 per month toward that credit card bill? Try a supplemental income opportunity? Can you reduce your shopping bill by 25 percent per month? Lots of ways to slice it, but the goal is to start somewhere. You will feel amazing and encouraged when you start to accomplish those goals.
Who gon’ check you boo?
Your accountability partner. I am much better at making it to gym when I have a friend waiting for me (read: holding me accountable). Find a partner who will keep you focused and encourage you along this journey. Greatness is never achieved alone. It takes a village.
Corliss Garner is a lifelong Chicago West Sider who has a thing for money and has learned from a few mistakes over the years. She is a fierce auntie, passionate about improving community and educating our babies. She happens to be a Certified Financial Planner TM, has worked a few decades in many areas of banking and views financial literacy as a personal ministry. Join her Facebook page Got My Mind on My Money and My Money on My Mind. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.
The topics discussed and opinions given are not intended to address the specific needs of any reader. They are for informational purposes only and are not to be construed or relied upon as pro-bono, paid or any other advice. The information herein does not offer legal, tax or other advice, and readers are encouraged to discuss their individual financial needs with the appropriate professional advisors. The opinions and thoughts expressed herein are solely those of the Writer and not those of the Writer’s employer(s) or any other affiliations. Writer assumes no liability for any loss or damage resulting from errors or omissions or reliance on or use of the material herein.