For many Americans, the New Year is a time to make – and break – resolutions. But what if rather than vowing to wake up early every morning to exercise, you set a financial resolution that could actually change your life in 2024? HerMoney checked in with financial experts who say change is more than possible. The key to making it stick is to know your why.
Make a resolution that is uniquely meaningful to you and one that can motivate you enough to take the steps needed to keep it. “Visualize into the future, and see what that empowers you to do,” says Brenna Baucum, Certified Financial Planner with Collective Wealth Planning. So, for example, instead of simply stating that you would like to increase contributions to your 401(k), think about how that could change your life. Would you be able to retire earlier? Travel? Spend more time with your grandchildren? Or simply live a life without financial worries?
“I often say that there are financial goals, and then there are life goals with a financial price tag,” Baucum explains. “Move away from ‘If I get to X amount financially, I will be happy.’ Think about what it is that actually motivates you, and then ask: What is a financial goal I can set that gets me to that?”
Once you know your why, here are eight financial resolutions to consider that have the potential to change your life.
Take a Spending Fast
Instead of going on that low-carb diet, put your wallet on one. It’s what Alina Fisch, founder of Contessa Capital Advisors, calls a “spending fast.” Set a period of time – a week, a month, or even six months – where you spend no money beyond your basic necessities and fixed expenses, such as groceries, housing and utilities. “It’s a way to stop the cycle of impulse consumerism and become more aware of your priorities,” Fisch says.
Be More Aware of Your Spending
“So many financial New Year’s resolutions are about spending less or saving more, but how about being more aware of where your money is going?” says Noah Damsky, principal with Marina Wealth Advisors. Simply knowing how much you spend on rent or a mortgage, car payments, subscription services, and how much is left over to save or spend is important. Grab a pen and write down these numbers, or put them into a spreadsheet. This simple step, he says, “is the starting point for turning things around.”
Consistently Spend Less Than You Make
HerMoney CEO and founder Jean Chatzky has shared life-changing financial guidance for more than three decades. One of our favorite nuggets of wisdom is to spend less than you make, which Chatzky elaborates on in the book “Make Money, Not Excuses: Wake Up, Take Charge, and Overcome Your Financial Fears Forever.” Why? Because consistently living below your means allows you to save more of your hard-earned money that can then be tucked away in an emergency fund and the rest invested for your future.
Calculate your savings rate, then bump it up
Many people know they should put more of their paycheck into savings. The first step to increasing your savings is to figure out your current savings rate. To do that, notes Brittany Wolff of Wolff Finance, take the amount of money you are saving and divide it by your total income. Set a goal to increase your savings rate, even if it is just a little.
Delete and Block Temptation
One of the best ways to stop spending money is to stop looking at things that you want to purchase. Reduce the temptations, says Fisch. How can you do that? Unsubscribe to retail emails promising great sales or free shipping. Remove your credit card info from your favorite online sites. Ask your social media accounts to block your preferred shopping spaces. Then, reward yourself by going for a walk in the park instead of internet window-shopping. Vow to spend less time shopping sales and more time living life.
Quit keeping up with the Joneses
Sometimes, our list of things we “want” or “need” includes things we don’t really want or need. For example, Baucum says, just because your neighbor has a new boat parked in his yard, or your co-worker remodeled her house, doesn’t mean you need to spend your money on these things, too. (After all, there’s a good chance they may have gone deep in debt on those purchases.) It’s officially time to quit comparing yourself to others in real life and on social media, and focus on your own values and financial goals.
Resolve to care for your future self
Start planning now for your future, so you can get to your ultimate “why,” and the reason you want to make resolutions. That means make sure you are getting the most out of your retirement benefits at work, including contributing a high enough percentage of your paycheck to get that employer match. And if you can, contribute more. Instead of trusting yourself to do this every month, Fisch says, automate payments into your savings and retirement accounts first. (You won’t miss what you can’t see, we promise!)
Make Yourself a Priority Daily (With this question)
As women, it’s often hard to prioritize our own needs over those we care for. But just as you are instructed on an airplane to put on your oxygen mask in an emergency before helping someone else, the same philosophy should apply to finances, says Alissa Krasner Maizes, a financial planner and founder of Amplify My Wealth. Don’t derail your own financial future and confidence while caring for others.
Ask yourself before every financial decision: Am I putting someone else ahead of my own financial needs? And then make an informed and intentional decision. “Although it does not seem intuitive to help yourself before those you care for, and who may arguably be more vulnerable,” Maizes says, “it is essential and a life-changing financial resolution.”
Lastly, if you’re looking for accountability with your money, a coach who can guide you through your best (and worst!) financial moves step-by-step, and get you on a path to more freedom and less stress, we’d love for you to join us for HerMoney’s 8-week budgeting course, FinanceFixx. “I have finally been able to start paying down my debt, because I now have a clearer picture of where my money is going — and where my money is coming from,” said one participant, Sarah. Amen to that. New sessions will be starting in January and February 2024, and there’s a seat with your name on it!
READ MORE ON HERMONEY:
- 4 Couples On How Working Together To Meet Financial Goals Brought Them Closer Together
- 3 Tips For Setting And Reaching Your Financial Goals
- How To Set Financial Resolutions, Based On Your Goals
- Top 11 Financial New Year’s Resolutions And How To Fulfill Them
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