One thing I’ve learned about New Year’s Resolutions is they better be specific.
It sounds nice to resolve to “be healthier” or “be more responsible with money,” but ideas that vague are likely to yield vague results…or no results at all.
If you’re the resolution type, make sure your goals are specific and measurable. And write them down. I’ve heard it said that a written plan is the difference between a dream and a goal. So don’t just dream this year—set a goal and achieve it.
Here are a few suggestions for those determined to get on financial track in 2015. Don’t try every one of these. Pick one or two of them and follow through.
I resolve to…
Create a zero-based budget and stick to it
Zero-based just means that every dollar you make has a destination. Whether you’re spending it, saving it or giving it away, you should not have any money just chilling in your checking account. Put all of your money to work so you can meet your goals faster.
Bump up my church giving by at least 1 percent
If the idea of tithing intimidates you, or your finances are still a little shaky, it’s OK. Just start somewhere and refuse to allow your giving to become stagnant.
Pray at least once a week about how to use my God-given gifts
The Bible has a lot to say about how we handle money. It’s well worth a few minutes of prayer to help ensure we’re using it the way God wants.
Not make any major purchase without waiting 30 days
Let this be the year you kick that impulse buying habit. A lot can happen in 30 days. Someone could give you the very thing you thought you needed to buy. It could go on sale. You could have a family emergency and end up very thankful you didn’t buy it right away. Or, as is the case most often in my household, you could realize you just don’t need it after all.
Automate my savings contributions
You probably automate everything else; why not your savings? Choose to stop viewing your savings contributions as optional and instead, treat them like another bill. Schedule a fixed amount to come out of each paycheck before you ever touch it, and watch how quickly your nest egg grows over the next year.
Never use a credit card without paying the balance immediately
The biggest, single step towards becoming debt free is simply not getting into any more debt! If you have a bad credit card habit, now’s the time to kick it to the curb. This may mean cutting up your cards and only using debit for the rest of your life. Or you may find you can handle hanging onto one or two cards and using them properly, which means never, ever carrying a balance. Not even 5 bucks. Not even for a week. It’s a slippery slope, so don’t even go there.
What other specific, measurable financial resolutions can you come up with to make it a truly happy New Year?