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Simple Resolutions Can Make for a Financially Successful 2014

If you’re in a position where New Year’s Day 2014 finds you in a better financial situation than you were at the beginning of 2013, even if only a little bit, congratulations!

If your situation is not better, take heart. Making a positive difference doesn’t necessarily mean making huge changes.

With it being resolution time as the New Year begins, understand that small changes can, in the long term, net big differences down the road. You might be in a situation where you feel only major life shifts will fix things, but consider talking to a credit counselor to discuss some of the smaller steps you can take that will improve your financial outlook.

Some of the steps you can resolve to do as part of the New Year are:

  • Resolve to set aside a small amount out of each paycheck into a separate savings account you have for emergencies. Having an emergency fund, you contribute to regularly will help you resist the temptation to use credit. If possible, have it in a bank or credit union separate from the one you use to write checks and pay regular bills. You want this money to be easy enough to get to when you need it, but not so easy that you can transfer it in seconds by going online.
  • Resolve to pay at least a small amount more than the monthly minimum on your credit card debts. If you pay the minimum it can be decades before you pay those off. Even a little extra can knock years off the time it takes to pay off revolving debt.
  • If there is a purchasing habit you have that you know is hampering your efforts to be in better financial shape, resolve to make a small difference. If you’re a regular fast-food eater, reduce the number of times a month you go. If you look back and track how much you spent on something like clothing, create a budget that reduces what you spend every month.
  • Resolve to spend cash instead of using a debit card wherever possible. People who limit their spending to cash only spend less. If you’re finding it too difficult to do it with everything, dedicate cash spending to one thing, such as dining out or clothing.
  • Resolve to find five things this year you can cut back on without eliminating. Make a plan for how and when you will spend on those items.
  • Resolve to give yourself regular education on how money works, from the basics of saving to subjects such as how to plan for retirement. Learning the strategies can often inspire you to take tangible steps toward making changes.

With enough small changes, you might surprise yourself with how big a difference you can make in a year. Take the time to have a free consultation on the phone with a credit counselor, such as American Financial Solutions; to discuss ways you can take steps that will net happier days ahead.

Published Jan 1, 2014.