The clock is ticking on 2017, and with the New Year just around the corner, you might be preparing your resolutions. Starting a diet or exercise program, or being more adventurous often make the list, but there are more practical things you can resolve to improve upon in the New Year. Whether your finances are good, bad, or somewhere in between, here are a few money habits you can use to start 2018 off with a bang.
Spend less than You Earn
According to Time, the first thing you should do is learn to live within your means. The federal government is not a great example of this, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same. By simply spending less than you earn every month, you ensure that you are staying on track towards other financial goals you want to set, such as investing for retirement or saving money to buy a new home.
Pay Yourself First
One of the oldest rules of personal finance is the simple admonition to pay yourself first. This means you pay your future self before you spend on your current self by setting aside a portion of your income to save. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan or alternative employee savings plan, you should consider automatically be diverting 10-15% of your paycheck to these retirement plans. Start this habit now and you can build confidence in your financial future. You will also enjoy a clearer picture of your budget now and expected savings in the future.
Build an Emergency Fund
You never know when a financial emergency is going to strike. It could be a smaller expense like new tires for your car, or thousands of dollars to replace appliances or an HVAC system. Having cash set aside in an emergency fund helps you breathe easier by not accruing debt when these situations happen.
Pay Down Debt
Debt may not feel crushing now, but it can come back to haunt you in the future. The money you throw at maintaining your debt now is money you can’t put into savings for a more comfortable future. Try to rid yourself of credit card debt, car loans, student loans, and any smaller debts. Don’t focus on trying to eliminate your mortgage as that is a long-term goal. Avoid new debt from impulse purchases as well. Many sales techniques are focused on getting you to buy things you don’t need or want. This type of emotional spending often leads to more debt.
Don't Invest Impulsively
One of the keys to long-term financial success is a steady hand. You cannot allow yourself to feel the sway of family, friends, or the media when it comes to saving and investing. The number of people that got rich on a hot stock tip is minimal. You need to trust yourself, your financial advisor, and feel secure in the retirement plan you have set up together.
The New Year is a great time for celebration, but also reflection. Look forward to the future, but let the past be your guide to better decisions in the process.
For help coming up with a financial plan for the new year, or any other wealth and finance needs, call Level Four Wealth Management to get started!
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the techniques and strategies discussed are suitable for all individuals or will yield positive outcomes.