Ignite Your Financial Future in 2018
With 2018 around the corner, you've likely started telling yourself, "New year, new me!" If so, that's great! Take a moment to ensure the "new you" includes new financial planning. From reviewing your finances to paying off debt, here are four financial resolutions to consider for 2018.
- Set achievable short-term and long-term goals
Your first step to achieving financial success is to use the time left in 2017 to map out your short-term and long-term goals for 2018 and beyond. It's never too early or too late in life to work on setting new, realistic, and achievable goals for yourself.
Long-term goals, such as retirement, should be on your list every year. It might not be the most exciting thing to think about, but your future self will thank you if you start focusing on a retirement savings account early and consistently.
It's easy to get sidetracked from long-term goals with your days being so busy. Don't fall for this trap! Keep your short-term and long-term goals top-of-mind when you start each new budget, and don't forget to take your bills and debt into account.
A portion of your budget needs to have a dedicated stream of income strictly for your long-term goals. You can achieve successful long-term investments for your future by opening a Roth IRA, a stock portfolio, an interest-yielding savings account, or government bonds. These tools are all at your disposal, so make it a habit this New Year to use them. Talk to your local Collins Community CU Member Service Consultant if you have more questions about these options.
- Save to reach your goals
To reach your long-term goals, you need to be serious about saving. Unless you strike it big and win the lottery, your dreams of buying a new home or going on a European vacation will depend on your ability to manage your finances, every day, so you can sock money away.
The rule to saving is simple: make more than you spend. If you've found yourself spending more than you make, take a seat, and begin calculating all your expenses. There are multiple ways you can create a budget to meet your new expectations.
Using a pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet or online software will help get your finances organized. A successful budget begins with those goals you set before. Then commit to putting a reasonable percent of each paycheck into your savings account. It will help if you set up a recurring transfer every month from your checking to savings account.
- Reduce your debt
Reducing your debt is the most common New Year's financial resolution. Make 2018 the year to discern what can go on your credit card and what needs to go on a wish list to purchase down the line when more funds are available.
Try not to convince yourself that a sale on a new 65-inch TV is once in a lifetime opportunity. If that purchase sits on your credit card for too long, it will start accruing interest over time, and your debt will eventually be higher than the original purchase amount. One rule of thumb to remember: You didn't save $200 on that $1,000 purchase. You in fact spent $800.
As time goes on, the debt from these kinds of purchases pile up, and in no time debt can get out of control. This is not a recipe for financial success. Don't let this way of thinking suck you into purchases you may want, but don't need.
Paying off debt ultimately comes down to discipline. "With great power, comes great responsibility." Well, count your credit card a great power, and make sure you can attain the responsibility needed to successfully keep your debt levels down.
- Plan for upcoming events (e.g., new career, buying a home, vacations, holidays, birthdays etc.)
A new year can mean new life adventures. Maybe you're graduating college and beginning your new career. Maybe you're getting married. Maybe you've finally decided this is the year you visit Maui.
Whatever your adventure, when you sit down to budget for a year with a big life event, make it a point to save a little more every month to either cover those costs upfront or be ready when payments are due.
Don't forget to take your every-day life into account for these events. For example, when you take that big vacation to Maui, you'll come back to the same bills and expenses you had before. Make sure to start saving in advance so you can either pay things off on the front end or ease the burden afterwards. And anticipate every aspect of your trip you'll need to budget for, even down to how much you will need to tip at restaurants while away from home.
There is always a way to make your life events fit into your budget by thinking freely. Going back to the Maui vacation example, consider going in the off-season for a cheaper rate if the current deal you're looking at doesn't fall in line with your plan. You can also set alerts on travel and flights to find the lowest prices.
The bottom line
It can be difficult to stay on a strict budget. Sometimes it may even feel unfair, and you might wonder why you're working so hard if you can't even splurge.
All these feelings stem from your mentality. Think about it: If you bought yourself a two-week all-inclusive vacation package to Maui through budgeting and following through on your promises - is that not splurging?
It sure sounds like splurging to me!