The New Year is here, bringing a fresh start for 2016. This means resolutions, and for many out there, new financial goals. But how to accomplish them? The best way is to start small, deciding on a few manageable goals that will help save money, pay debts, and lessen stress. This is easier said than done, but with a bit of insight and instruction, the financial goals for 2016 will be one resolution that is easily kept.
Create a Budget
Budgeting is the best way to stay within financial means. First, gather up all the bills for the past few months. Next, decide which are necessary recurring bills, like mortgage payments, food bills, and heating costs, that must be budgeted for each month. Once the amount needed for recurring necessities is decided, subtract that amount from the amount earned each month. Be sure that these bills are paid on time to keep interest charges low. The easiest way to do this is to set up direct monthly payments from a checking account.
Pay Off Debts
Once the budget is made, and the amount of money left over from necessary bills is decided, paying off debts is an obvious next step. Begin with the one with the highest interest rate, such as a credit card bill, and put the majority of the money towards it, and pay the minimum on any others. When the first is paid off, move on to the next highest interest debt, and repeat the process until all debts are paid.
Start an Emergency Fund
Emergencies happen, usually when least expected. When the money to pay for them is not available, many rely on a credit card to cover the costs, and are then troubled with large amounts of debt, and high-interest rates. Having an emergency fund can help prevent this from happening. This doesn’t mean putting hundreds of dollars away and foregoing important bills. Starting small is best. A few dollars per paycheck at first, then raising it as other bills are paid off and more money is available is the best way to do this. Also, put this money in an account that is not easily accessible, so there will be no temptation to use it.
Set Realistic Saving Goals
When most people decide to save money, they think of it in general terms, with no real amount or time-frame set to do so. By setting a specific amount for a specific purpose, it is easier to save. And by setting an amount that is easily affordable, and will not take money away from important bills or debts, it is an attainable and realistic goal. For instance, if getting married in the summer of 2016, decide to save $5000 for this by the end of the year.
Saving money doesn’t mean it is necessary for a person to completely rearrange their life. There are little things that can be done to save a few dollars here and there. If shopping e-mails offering deals come to an inbox on a daily basis, tempting a person with “unbeatable deals”, unsubscribe from these companies, and halt the urge to buy. If living a healthier lifestyle is another resolution, an expensive gym membership isn’t necessary. There are many free apps that offer excellent workouts, or just find a suitable jogging path near home.
Walking instead of driving a car will help in this more active lifestyle, and also reduce the amount of money spent on gas. Instead of buying overpriced vegetables, plant a garden. Starting a home business with projects already of interest, such as knitting, carpentry, or writing, can boost the household income.
Financial goals do not need to be lofty, nor does a person need to live in near poverty to achieve them. Knowing your financial needs and how much can be sacrificed in order to pay off debts, or save for emergencies, the future, or even a much needed vacation, is not as difficult as many think, and even the smallest of effort can be rewarding, and make those resolutions come true.