Things are going to be different next year

Even the best of us make poor money choices and sabotage our financial future as a result. Sure, it’s not easy to change. But the important thing is to do something, starting right after the holidays.

For example, are you putting off saving for retirement because the “deadline” seems so far away? Or are steering clear of addressing your unwieldy debt load because it’s so intimidating? Don’t. Instead, ask yourself where you want to be in five years. Then try these simple steps…

Make a written plan. You can’t sidestep your financial responsibilities forever. Your odds of following through will increase dramatically if you set milestones. This way, you’ll hold yourself accountable for your choices.

Set specific goals. Break each one into several objectives: short-term (less than 1 year), medium-term (1 to 3 years) and long-term (5 years or more). Talk often about these goals with a partner, friend, or family member. You might even consider recruiting someone with the same outlook and work at things together.

Budget for savings. Pay yourself first. Just as you learned to budget money every month to pay bills and cover the essentials, you should also budget to save. The amount isn’t the issue at this stage -– focus on the process.

Track your spending.
Do you know where all your cash is going each month?  Are you honest with yourself or your partner? Prove it. Keep a spreadsheet of your spending for a few months and look for patterns. Try to figure out why you failed to pick up on unanticipated costs.

Monitor the results. Make sure you keep an eye on results, periodically comparing them against those milestones. If you’re not making satisfactory progress on a particular goal, reevaluate your approach and make changes as necessary.

Gordon Buckland