One of the staples of a shiny new year is the practice of making New Year Resolutions. It is common to promise to make promises of better financial practices in the coming year. The hope, of course, is that financial resolutions will result in permanent changes that benefit you for years to come.
I find, as the years progress, that I make fewer and fewer resolutions. I have also found that it makes more sense for me to narrow my focus so that I’m only working on one big thing at a time. One major financial resolution can, effectively, be several small financial goals, since you will have to make a plan to reach your ultimate goal.
At some point, though, I think you are likely to start running out of certain types of financial resolutions, and really make the advent of a new year more about re-committing to a particular course of action, or use the new year as a way to focus on a very specific situation.
My Financial Goal for 2013: Preparing for a Possible Move
My main financial goal for 2013 is to prepare for the possibility that my family will move. We’re upside down right now, thanks to lower home values and a small down payment when we bought (just before the party ended). I want to make sure that we can sell our home quickly if we need to, and that we have the resources to pay for a move.
Of course, we may not move in 2013. It all depends on whether my husband gets a full-time position somewhere. We are fortunate enough that he can keep working as an adjunct until he gets something he likes, so we’re not in a rush, but I’d like to get a few things in order nonetheless. That way, we’re ready. And if we don’t move in 2013, well at least we’ve got a head start for 2014 or 2015.
Other than that, I really don’t have any financial resolutions.
Are Your Finances on Track?
In many cases, financial New Year Resolutions are about getting your finances on track. It’s about boosting the emergency fund, or paying down debt, or taking your home business to the next level. Sometimes it’s about starting a vacation fund or putting together an income portfolio. If you have your finances on track, then the new year is often more about maintaining the good habits you built up in the past, with the help of resolutions.
Having your finances on track doesn’t mean that you don’t have room for improvement. We can always do a little more to improve the situation, or spend more wisely. And, of course, you might have smaller, more targeted goals to focus on in the new year, once you are on track with the big things.
Even if you don’t set sweeping goals this time of year, it is still a good time to reflect on your situation, and recognize what you are doing right (and commit to do more of it), as well as what needs improvement. Make this time of year one for financial introspection, and then go from there.
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.