It’s a brand-new year, so now is a great time to set budget-friendly resolutions to pave the way toward a more financially fit future. Here are six financial resolutions to get you started.
1 – Create (and stick to!) a budget
If you don’t have a monthly budget, let’s get one started! Track your spending and income over several months, and then make a list of all expenses and all monthly income streams. Assign a dollar amount to each expense category. If your columns are equal, or your income is more than your expenses, you’re doing great. But, if your expenses are more than your income, you’ll need to trim your spending or find ways to increase your income.
After you’ve created your budget, or if you already have one, resolve to actually stick to it each month. You can use one of the many budgeting apps, like YNAB, to help.
2 – Build an emergency fund
An emergency fund is your financial safety net. Experts recommend having three to six months’ worth of living expenses in your emergency fund. Resolve to build an emergency fund this year by setting aside a small sum of money each month until you have a nest egg that can get you through virtually any emergency.
3 – Trim your expenses
Have your expenses started trickling upward in any area(s)? Identify your weak points and brainstorm for ways to start spending less. Small change today adds up to big bucks tomorrow.
4 – Pay down debt
Make this the year you pay down debt, or at least make real headway toward getting rid of it for good. You can choose to prioritize high-interest debts, or work on paying off your smallest debt first to keep your motivation going. Maximize payments on your chosen debt until it’s paid off. Then, keep on rolling to the next debt on your list until you’re completely debt-free.
5 – Automate your savings
It’s all wonderful to resolve to put more money into savings each month, but how do you turn those good intentions into reality? Set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking account to your savings so you never forget to feed your savings.
6 – Expand your financial education
Invest in your financial education this year by reading books, taking online courses, listening to podcasts or attending seminars on personal finance.