5 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

If you’re like me, each year starts with the best of intentions – full of goals and New Year’s resolutions that fall to the wayside by mid-February at best!  It’s no surprise that gyms are empty in late December and full on January 2nd.  Let this year be the year you make some serious strides in your personal finances.  Here are 5 New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep.

1) Save $2,500

piggy-bank-dollarThere are so many ways to save money.  Though $2,500 may sound like a lot, it’s a completely attainable goal.  Here are a few easy ways to get there that won’t feel too stressful throughout the year:

  • Sell your stuff.  Look around your place – you’ve got unwanted and underused items laying around.  It’s time to convert them to cash.  Start selling – Craigslist, eBay, garage sale, whatever.  Get rid of it.  What gives you more peace – $500 in the bank or an attic full of stuff?
  • Only use a little of your tax refund as fun money.  Make a goal to save 90% of it and if you’re like many people, that will get you halfway to the goal alone.
  • Set up automatic withdrawals.  Many employers allow you to do a split disbursement from your paychecks.  Even if they don’t, set it and forget it with your bank.  Take $50 from each paycheck and route it to a savings account – that gets you $1300 alone, if you’re paid biweekly.  If you can stretch it to $100 per paycheck, you’ve got the entire $2500 already.

2) No New Debt:

cut-credit-cardEnough is enough.  This is your year to stop adding to the mounting credit card debt. Do whatever you have to do to resist the urge to dig a deeper financial hole.  Freeze the cards in a block of ice.  No more one-click shopping – remove the saved information from your Amazon account.  Get out the scissors and cut them up if you have to.  Having a written budget is your key to managing the money after you stop adding to the debt problem.

3)  Get Schooled in Finance:

finance-schooled-chalkboardMake a goal to read 3 books this year about personal finance.  Find an area you want to know more about – investing, budgeting, getting our of debt, tax strategies, etc. – and pick up a few titles.  You can even do it on the cheap by using your local public library.  And here’s a tip from a fellow busy person: you can easily devour 10 more books each year by listening to the audio version during your daily commute.  And that’s a conservative number if you frequently sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

4) Make $500 more per month

500-dollars-us Make this the year you commit to making more.  There is a lot of money out there – you just need to find your onramp to get to it.  Cutting back expenses can only go so far and the fact is that a lot of people need to work on the income side of the budget equation. You can do it without a major time commitment. Consider one or more of these ideas:

  • Be bold and ask for a raise for the wrk you’re already doing.
  •  Start delivering pizzas for 10 hours per week.
  • Use your skills to sell handmade items or printable pieces on Etsy.
  • Tutor high school students for 10-20 hours a month.
  • Find a skill that takes very little time and create a profile on Fiverr.
  • Spend less than 10 hours a month offering your professional consulting and advice to others.
  • Shine up the push mower and cut grass 3 times a week.

5) Get organized

money-chart-graph copyThe best way to stay organized in your financial life is to create a budget and stick to it.  There’s no getting around this.  If you’ve failed at this resolution in the past, try new methods.  Here are a few methods that’ve worked for many people:

  • Switch to a cash and envelope system.
  • Have a friend build you an Excel template.
  • Spend a few dollars on a new budgeting software program.
  • Start charting your spending on a large whiteboard or poster-sized paper on your wall.
  • Sign up for Mint.

Whatever it is, find a method that works for you and make this the year that you get your finances in order.  You’ll enjoy life so much more if you do.