As another year nears its end, now is the time for us to reflect back on everything we accomplished over the last twelve months and plan our goals for the coming year. The most common resolutions are made by people looking to improve their health by losing weight or going to the gym more consistently. I’m sure the overindulgence of the holiday season has a lot to do with that.
But in addition to your physical health, you should also be thinking about your financial health. Think of the new year as a fresh slate where you can eliminate your bad habits and start forming good ones. Here are a few New Year’s resolutions to get you started.
The price of a pack of cigarettes varies wildly depending on how much tax the local government charges. The average price per pack in some states areas is only about $5, but in New York City the price skyrockets to around $12 a pack! For argument’s sake let’s split the difference and say you’re spending $8 a pack. Let’s also say you smoke an average of one pack per day. At the end of the year you will have spent $2,920 on cigarettes! Just think about all the better ways you could have spent that money!
Start an Emergency Fund
Earlier this year the family dog knocked my daughter backwards and she banged her head on her dresser. After spending a few hours in the ER and getting a couple of staples put in her head, they handed us a bill for $550 (that was AFTER insurance paid their portion). Not long after that our hot water heater needed to be replaced to the tune of $900. Just a few weeks after that, a freak storm knocked a tree onto our roof and caused about ten thousand dollars in damage. Insurance covered most of that but between the deductible, the hotel stay, and the meals we ate out since we couldn’t cook at home we were out about $1500. Thankfully we had the cash set aside in an emergency fund to handle such emergencies…and hopefully we’ll have less drama this year!
Start an Automatic Savings Plan
One of the barriers to saving money and building wealth is just getting started. So many people start with the best of intentions and swear they’ll put a little money aside each month. But then life happens. Either because some unexpected expense comes up or because they just forget or are too lazy, they just never get around to it. It only takes a few minutes to set up automatic withdrawals into an ING savings account and once you do your savings will grow and grow without you having to do a thing. And because the withdrawals are happening automatically you’ll never even miss it!
Stop charging everything
If you’re like most people you’ve got credit card debt, and the money you’re paying in finance charges might as well be flushed down the toilet. Carrying a credit card balance is a loser’s game and you should do everything you can to start paying it down right now. But to make any real progress toward getting out of debt you need to stop charging things in the first place. Hide your credit cards…or freeze them…or cut them up! Just stop charging everything!
These are just a few ideas for New Year’s resolutions that will help you improve your finances. What other suggestions can you think of?