Personal Finance

New Year’s resolutions to stretch the bottom line

As everyone knows, setting New Year’s resolutions has become a yearly tradition. Following through and sticking with these resolutions is where many of us fall short. While we are in the process of setting New Year’s resolutions, there are a number of items that need to be considered:

  1. What has been your track record in keeping resolutions in the past;
  2. What motivates you and helps you to be committed to the resolution;
  3. On a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, rate your desire to stay committed to the resolution. Envision yourself after the resolution has been accomplished.

If you have never stuck with a resolution in the past, you may want to set some small simple resolutions. These smaller resolutions can be accomplished in a relatively small amount of time and can work up to the accomplishment of larger resolutions. The key to setting and accomplishing resolutions is completely up you and your desire to succeed.

In this article, let’s talk about some financial resolutions which might be common to many of us: 1) Paying for Christmas or other holiday expenditures without having to charge more on the credit card; 2) Working to build a long-term sound financial future; 3) Finding ways to stretch your hard-earned dollar.

Paying for Holiday Expenses

Paying for holiday expenses put on a credit card may take a year or more to pay off. Many of us run up the credit card, thinking we can pay it down later. The problem with this logic is that making only the minimum payment is always a temptation. Paying only the minimum racks up a lot of interest and pays very little (if nothing) on the principal. Paying on a credit card like this for a even a short period of time can get you into a bad habit. The credit card balance keeps getting larger and you fall further behind.

A good way to pay for Christmas or any other large expense would be to plan ahead. In the case of Christmas you have an idea a full year in advance of what your expenses will be. A small amount of money could be set aside from each check and put into a Christmas savings account. By the time Christmas comes, if you have been consistent in putting money into your account there should be enough to meet your Christmas needs. This little resolution could pay big dividends in a couple of ways. First you learn how to save and exercise self-control, and second you will not be racking up more expense on your credit card (and paying interest on that debt).

Long-Term Financial Planning and Job Stability

Building a long-term financial future takes time and planning. The first thing to remember and understand is that no one is going to look out for you or do it for you. A person’s hard work and planning will make all the difference between having a strong financial future and just getting by.

There are many ways to establish your financial future. You could put money into a savings account which yields a low rate of return, place money into a CD which usually is a little higher rate of return, or contribute to a 401k at your employment if one is offered. Investing in a 401k is an easy way to go, because the money is usually deducted from your paychecks before you get it. With a 401k you can pick and choose whether you want to invest in low, moderate, or high risk investments. The more years you have before retirement the stronger you can make your financial future. Start your resolution today and take control of your financial future.

In today’s economy finding and keeping a full-time job that is long-term is rare. Many businesses are very cyclical. They hire a lot of people during one part of the year and lay those same people off when business demand goes down. In years past many businesses would seem to be loyal to their employees. In today’s business world that loyalty is hard to find. Some things that can be done to try and establish longevity with your employer include being responsive, working hard, and gaining more skills to increase your value within the company. In many businesses the employee has to work up the company ladder.

While climbing the company ladder you may find a position you believe is more long-term. These positions are usually filled with people who have a degree or many years of experience. This New Year’s resolution could take some time to get down. Preparing yourself to find that permanent position through education or other training is a good first step. Preparing yourself to run your own business is another way to find a stable income.

Stretching Every Dollar

Finding ways to stretch your hard-earned dollars can be a challenge. There are a number of ways to make your dollar go farther. Start by being a thrifty shopper. Shop for items that you need during their off-season. You will save a lot of money by buying items that have gone on sale or on clearance. This type of shopping can be done by planning ahead. If you have a home loan that has a higher interest rate above what is currently on the market, you may look at refinancing the loan and cutting down the number of years on the loan or having a lower monthly payment. It would be smart to consult a qualified financial advisor you trust and run the numbers to make sure it is the best move for you.

If you have vehicle loans with higher interest rates, refinancing might also be a good option. There are great rates available especially for newer model cars. Any other loans that you have that can be refinanced without a lot of closing cost or fees may be worth looking into. Lowering the amount of money you pay out each month gives you more money in your wallet. You could use this money to pay off bills faster, put into savings, or do whatever you want with the money. This New Year’s resolution could free up some of your money to help out elsewhere.

Eliminating stress from dealing with finances is an ongoing battle. Proper planning and self-control can help minimize stress. A person who properly follows a budget or planning will run into fewer financial surprises. Unexpected bills from careless spending will send the stressed-out person over the top. Try to eliminate any surprises when dealing with finances. This New Year’s resolution will also take time, but the rewards will be peace, health, and contentment. Simply put–plan, execute and maintain self-control to minimize stress.

There are many other resolutions dealing with finances that could be discussed. The basic principles apply to many of these resolutions. Work hard in building your financial future (no one is going to do it for you). Get educated in any area of finance you feel will help in your quest for success. Remember resolutions only get accomplished when there is a real commitment to change.

About the author
© Simple Joe, Inc.
Lyle Evans is a quality control specialist for Simple Joe, Inc., makers of the popular Simple Joe’s Expense Tracker PC software. Expense Tracker is a quick and simple way to keep track of your expenses and stay within your budget. Expense Tracker is ideal for tracking personal, business, home and club expenses. This article may be freely distributed as long as the copyright, author’s information and an active link (where possible) are included.