Saving More and Spending Less is a Top New Year’s Resolution
It’s the middle of February and dare I ask, how are your New Year’s Resolutions going? According to Psychology Today, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by the end of February. They typically fail because people feel overwhelmed and discouraged or because the goals aren’t clear.
If you have fallen off the New Year’s Resolution wagon, I am not here to pass judgment on you. Personally I stopped making resolutions a long time ago, because I didn’t want to wait until January 1st to make positive changes to my life. And one positive change I have made is in relation to my finance and money habits. I live on a budget, and at the end of each month I review my expenses to make sure they are in line with what I estimated and if they aren’t I make adjustments as I go along. I have learned to live intentionally when it comes to my finances and I keep my end goals in mind when temptations come up.
According to numerous polls, saving more and spending less is one of people’s top New Year’s Resolutions. If you’re reading this, I bet it’s one of yours as well.
Getting Your Finances in Order
So, you’ve decided to get your finances in order, to save more and spend less for the year. At first it might seem overwhelming. If you’ve never really sat down and tried to plan out how you are going to accomplish this goal, you might not know where to start.
If you have a spouse or significant other, you definitely want to get them on board with your money changes. Nothing will sabotage a financial goal quicker than if your partner is not tuned into what your goals are and how you plan to accomplish them.
Picture you and your partner rowing a boat – you are rowing one oar and your partner is rowing the other. If you are both rowing at the same speed and in the same direction, you will arrive at your destination. If you are fired up about getting to your destination and rowing faster than your partner or your partner is rowing the opposite way, you’ll never get to your destination and instead will be rowing in circles. It is vitally important that your significant other is on board with your changes. By having your partner with you, every step of the way, the two of you can hold each other accountable for your financial actions.
Single Social Butterfly
But let’s say you are single, all hope is not lost. There are still plenty of ways in which you can still have accountability when it comes to your money changes. First, you can utilize social media to help you with your goals. By posting your goals on social media you are letting people know what your efforts are going towards, and it just might provide encouragement for others.
Everyone’s seen a person who’s posted a “Before” and “After” picture of their weight loss due to diet and exercise. While I don’t suggest you post your “Before” and “After” bank account balances, it would be acceptable to tell the social media world that you are going to go two weeks without buying a soda on your way to work or 30 days without buying Starbucks and then following up with a post after you’ve accomplished your goal.
Another way to hold yourself accountable is by joining a budgeting class or group in your area. Being around similar people with the same goals allows you to share encouragement and ideas with each other to achieve your financial targets. It also gives you people that will listen when you are struggling or have a particular hard day or week when it comes to staying in financial control. March 4th, 2019 Money Management class in Columbia, MO.
Financial Health Coach
Some people might not be comfortable sitting in a group and sharing their financial skeletons, and that’s where a financial coach comes in. By being able to speak with someone one-on-one, especially someone who has made financial mistakes and emerged from the other side much wiser and financially healthier, it allows you to not be judged and to have someone hold you accountable when it comes to your daily and monthly spending.
Think of it this way – if you join a gym and have a morning workout partner, you are sure to get out of bed and get to the gym if you know your workout partner is going to be there waiting for you every day. Whether with your partner, budgeting group, or financial coach, or any combination thereof, by having someone walk with you through your journey of financial changes you will help to negate one of the top reasons that people fail in their resolutions – feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.
Clarify Your Financial Goals and Financial Plan with a Budget
The other reason why people fail in their New Year’s Resolution is because their goals aren’t clear. I actually don’t like the financial goal of “spend more and save less”. That is way too vague, there are no specifics in that statement.
As I talked about in my previous blog, having a budget and setting financial goals is vitally important to planning for your financial future, for not only this year but for years to come. A budget is a clear, specific way to measure how you are accomplishing your short term and long term financial goals. Most people don’t like budgets because they feel budgets put restrictions on their spending, but in fact the opposite is true. Budgets allow you to tell your money where it should go.
I still recall the time I was over $35,000 in credit card debt and couldn’t make my monthly payments. I had a job, was making decent money, but I had no idea where my money was going. I sat down, listed my monthly income and expenses, and at the end had $600 a month that I had no idea where it was going. I look back now and think that’s crazy, I actually had $600 a month just disappearing, being frittered away on who knows what instead of making my money work towards my goals.
BUDGET FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
Okay, so now you’ve written out a budget, you’ve listed your monthly income and all your monthly expenses and you’re ready to go. What happens when the bills start coming in and they are different than what you estimated, or worse yet you receive a bill that you did not anticipate? Well, that’s where budget flexibility comes in. Your budget is a working document, it is not set in stone, and whether it be with your partner or a financial coach, it is important to sit down every month and review how the previous month’s budget went and how to prepare for the next month.
A client of mine recently told me that his property tax bill came in the mail and he did not factor that into his monthly budget. After we figured out how he was going to pay it, we took the amount divided by 12 and factored that into his monthly budget so that at the end of the year he won’t be surprised because he will have saved money for it all year long.
By having clear, concise financial goals in place and someone who can walk the journey with you, you’ll be able to say you’ve kept your financial new year’s resolution and be better prepared for what lies ahead.