The time between Christmas and New Year’s is a slow time for most. It’s a time to sleep in, get cozy, perhaps watch a movie marathon, and enjoy some well-deserved rest. For me, it’s also a time when I take inventory of the passing year and begin to look to the next.
I love the start of a new year. Maybe it’s because it feels like I’m getting another chance. It’s filled with potential and new possibilities. One of the areas I focus on as I enter a new year is my finances. My wife and I take this time to plan and tweak our budget for the next 12 months. We’ve been doing this for many years and I can confidently say that much of our financial success is attributed to the fact that we ACTUALLY made a plan.
Fail to plan, plan to fail
It’s true that those who fail to plan are actually planning to fail. Notice I didn’t say they failed because they didn’t have the right plan or the best plan, they failed because they didn’t have a plan at all. It’s sad to think many people will roll into the next year without giving serious consideration to how they will manage their finances. Doing the same thing will yield the same results. If you’re not happy with your results or would like to improve on them, you need to do things differently.
4 Things You Can Do To Make 2018 Financially Better
1. Make a Spending Plan for your money
Take control of your money by creating a budget that tells your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. A budget provides the detail you need to meet every obligation, while also providing the means to save more money and reduce debt. A budget also does the following:
- Eliminates most financial surprises
- Creates margin giving you more options
- Brings order and peace to spending decisions
- Eliminates impulse buying
Trying to manage your money by doing mental math will not make you financially successful. You need a written plan that prioritizes saving and controls spending.
2. Create a debt pay off plan to eliminate debt
While a budget can help you avoid taking on more debt, it doesn’t automatically reduce your debt. You need to make debt elimination a priority. No matter what type of debt you have, reducing or eliminating it all together will make you financially better off.
A debt snowball system for paying off debt works because:
- It makes the payments manageable
- It accelerates debts pay off
- It reduces the interest you pay
3. Increase Your Income
One of the best ways to improve your finances is to make more money. If you haven’t asked for a raise in a while it’s time. Don’t tell yourself you can’t! More than 50% of Americans don’t ask for a raise. They talk themselves out of it because they’re afraid of hearing, “No.” The truth is, 75% of the people that ask for a raise end up getting it, so ask!
Increase your income by taking on a side job or start a side business. There are incredible opportunities available if you’re willing to do the work. Just make sure you don’t use the extra income to increase your lifestyle. Make a commitment to take all the extra income and use it to improve your net worth. This can include, paying off debt, increasing your saving or retirement, or investing in income-producing assets such as real estate.
4. Start Investing
The secret to financial success is, save first, spend second. Andrew Carnegie used this principle of setting aside the first portion of his income before spending on himself.
He made a decision early on that he would never use that part of his income or any increase he would gain from it to live on. Instead, he chose to invest. Because of this one decision, he was able to save and invest until he became one of the wealthiest and most generous men in the world.
2018 can be the best financial year you’ve ever had, but it won’t happen without a plan. Why not take the last few days of 2017 to make a plan that includes some or all of the suggestions above to ensure you succeed.