A New Year means a lot of things to a lot of people, but more often than not, a fresh calendar means New Year’s resolutions are abound. Now, you can certainly promise yourself that you will start exercising more or finally quit smoking, but the truth is that most people only manage to stick to their new plan for a few brief months.
However, if you pick a resolution that is well thought out and can have a positive effect on all aspects of your life, you are much more likely to stick with it. Changing your finances is one great example of such a resolution.
Having a great financial plan for 2018 will not only get you on the path to savings, it will also lessen your overall stress – which then gives your overall mood and health a boost.
No clue where to start? Here are seven ways to change your finances in 2018.
Take a Look at 2017
Before you can move forward, you need to know what went down in the past year. Take a look at how much money you spent and where you spent it in 2017. This might take some time, but digging into your bank account and credit cards will give you a clear picture of where your hard-earned cash went – especially if you found yourself struggling from time to time.
If you have no clue how to even begin, there are some financial apps out there that can help or you can speak to a professional.
Plan for the Future
While you obviously cannot predict the future, you can reasonably plan for one based on information at hand. Did you spend thousands on coffee in 2017? Maybe invest in a coffee machine at home and cut the long-term cost down. Do you know that you have a couple major events to attend in 2018, such as a wedding?
Plan to set aside some money for it. Unless you plan on moving, you already know how much your rent and electricity bills will be (assuming they stay relatively the same, of course), so plan on those too. And of course, once April comes around, you will need to submit your taxes and plan accordingly as to whether or not you will owe. Speaking of, planning for tax time is a very good idea.
If you tend to struggle with knowing what to do, you should seek professional guidance from companies like Helpwithtaxproblems.org.
As part of planning for the future, you should set some financial goals for 2018 that go beyond paying rent. These are best used when your goals are short-term and can act as small victories sprinkled throughout the year.
For instance, if you want to take a vacation in May, you should plan on saving enough for at least the plane ticket. If you like to destress by getting a massage every few months, plan ahead for those as well by factoring the price into your overall spending budget.
Plan for a Cushion
Since you obviously can’t plan for everything, you should factor a cushion into your budget. It is always a good idea to save more up front while you can. That way, if you need to scale back a bit, it won’t be detrimental to your overall budget.
Save Money without Lifting a Finger
In addition to your careful budget building, you can utilize apps that have been built to track your spending habits and tuck small amounts of money away, like Acorns.com. The purpose behind the small amounts being saved is that you don’t even notice it missing in the first place, which is pretty unbelievable.
Many of these apps also allow you to create savings goals, which it will use to determine how much money to squirrel away for you in order for you to meet that goal.
Find New Ways to Save
You don’t have to spend money to have fun; figuring out all of the things you can do throughout the year that don’t cost a thing is a great way to change your finances. It also helps if you look ahead, so you have things to look forward to. For instance, plan on taking bike rides and having picnics in the summer with your best friends. Or, plan on having movie nights with them during the colder winter nights.
Learn How to Say ‘No’
Sometimes the biggest enemy when it comes to financial planning is yourself. Do you really need that new outfit or that new television? If the answer is ‘no,’ you need to be firm with yourself.
People deal with this in different ways. Some leave their credit cards at home while others literally give them to someone else to hold on to. Whatever method you have that works, stick with it.