New Years Resolutions that Will Make You Richer

New Years Resolutions Happy New Year, everyone!

Now that you’re settling in for all of the promise and opportunity that 2014 will bring, it’s a good time to take stock of those resolutions you set a mere week or so ago. If you’re already finding it difficult to keep up with your expectations of all the changes you plan to make this year, don’t fret–there’s still plenty of time to change up your plans.

And if you haven’t planned your resolutions around a certain theme or life change, what about focusing on new years resolutions that will make you richer?

With a bit of creativity and a careful look at the habits you have that cost you excess money, it’s not too difficult to find a few ways to trim the financial fat. Doing so will get you right on that path to debt reduction and/or a nicely padded bank account!

Improve Your Health

Quit smoking. Start exercising. Swap the junk for healthier snacks & meals. No matter what you do, there’s a direct improvement for both your waistline and your bank account when you commit to improving your health.

For each healthy change you make, boost the benefits of your good behavior by paying down more debt or increasing your savings by the amount of money you will no longer be spending. For instance, if you’re going to quit smoking, filter the money that you’d typically spend on cigarettes straight to your bank account.

Improve Your Finances

This one is a no-brainer. Besides fitness-related resolutions, improving finances is one of the most popular changes people add to their news years’ list. As you make your new financial goals, challenge yourself to be specific about how those resolutions can make you richer.

Perhaps it’s as simple as increasing your savings rate. Or perhaps it’s a bit more intricate and detailed such as getting a handle on your retirement investment strategies. As you’re choosing your various financial resolutions, consider a few of the following:

  • Max out your retirement contributions (or at least open and begin to fund an account!)
  • Educate yourself (add a few personal finances books to your Kindle list and apply what you learn)
  • Beef up your emergency fund
  • Get your debt in check
  • Increase your credit card rewards and perks by doing a bit of comparison shopping

 

Improve Your Overall Well-Being

As you make these great health and financial goals, don’t forget about enhancing your overall wellness. By incorporating additional wellness activities such as yoga, meditation, and “Me Time,” you’ll not only reduce your stress and improve your immunity, but you’ll also be more likely to be successful with your other goals.

What are you waiting for?! Get to work today to ensure that your tomorrow is one that you can be proud of.

What are some of your new years resolutions that will make you richer?

10 Steps Towards Financial Security

Given our current economic climate that’s riddled with uncertainty and anxiety, it’s necessary to take stock of where you lie on the financial security spectrum.Whether you have debt or not, you should have an awareness of what constitutes financial security, and you should know how your specific situation impacts your ability to attain this type of freedom.

By following the 10 steps towards financial security below, you’ll have a great shot at getting ahead in the financial game as well as making sure you’re setting yourself (and your family) up for future financial success.

Here’s a brief overview of what I consider a great start for covering your financial bases:

Track your spending! 

Do you know how much of your money comes in and where/how it goes out?  If not, develop a tracking system right. this. very. minute.  It can be detailed like an Excel spreadsheet broken down by category, automatic like a Mint.com account, or elementary like a crayon on a napkin.  Basically, it doesn’t matter how you track as long as you’re doing it!

Create a budget 

Ahh yes, the dreaded budget.  All joking aside, this is one handy little nugget in anyone’s quest for financial security.  Keeping a budget helps you make plans and goals and stick to those plans/goals.  A budget puts you in control of your money and, really, who doesn’t like the idea of that?

For a quick reminder of the power of a good budget, check out the video below:

 

Build an Emergency Fund

And keep it funded!  3-6 months of living expenses should be your bare minimum goal.  Once you meet that, continue funding for at least 12 months of living expenses.

Pay off ALL consumer debt

Credit card balances, HELOCs, and personal loans are not for the financially secure, no matter how you slice it.  If you want something, save for it.  If you fell on hard times or have previously made poor spending decisions (as I once did), NOW is the time to remedy the situation.

Max out your 401K

Or at least contribute!  She/he who pays herself/himself first now is the one who enjoys a financially stress-free retirement.

Open a Roth IRA

If you can take advantage of this type of retirement account, please do so.  As in, please do so yesterday.  Hopefully that statement helps to highlight the importance of having a Roth IRA.

Build in some “fun” money

Budgeting isn’t all about savings, debt payoff, and retirement–it’s also about having fun!  Build in a small reserve to treat yourself–whether for vacations, shopping, dining, whatever is most important to you.  Building in this cushion will help you stave off burnout and feel more satisfied with your progress.

Set goals

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Set goals that work for you.  They can be annual, monthly, hell, even daily!  Set them and remind yourself of what they are.

Work your tail off to meet set goals

So you’ve set your goals, now what?  Reach them; blow them out of the water!  The satisfaction and motivation yielded from meeting your goals is a catalyst for future success–ride that wave!

Consider other steps

Obviously this list is not inclusive and will not fit everyone’s situations.  Perhaps you want to open a 529, invest more, quit your job, pick up another job, or purchase investment properties.  Perhaps you need to dial down your lifestyle.  Or perhaps you need to fix some emotional wounds prior to being on-board with your finances.  Whatever your own personal steps happen to be, define them and get to work. If you need a bit of help, there are plenty of financial resources you can seek out to help you gain momentum with your efforts.

Even if you can’t do all of this now, do what you can.  You’ll be amazed at what immense progress you can make with just a little bit of effort!

 

What kinds of steps are you currently taking to ensure your own financial security?

  

What to Do with $100K?

What to Do with $100K
I have a confession to make.

For the past 3 months, I’ve had a nice chunk of change sitting in my….online savings account. Oh, the my-money-is-doing-next-to-nothing-for-me horror!

Closing Friday; Jetting off Saturday

In June, I sold my condo for $30K over the asking price, thanks to making a great investment in a foreclosed condo three years ago and a bit of luck from the Boston real estate market. When closing came in August, I had bigger “fish to fry” as I was about to embark on my trip around the world. Literally, closing was on Friday and I was set to jet off to Fiji the very next day.

Needless to say, I did little more than transfer the sum of the six-figure check I received at closing from my checking account to my online savings account. Of course, I did have every intention of figuring out what to do with the money as I had downtime during my travels. But as life would have it, I promptly paid no attention to the money and concentrated on fully immersing myself in my adventures; I figured that things would work themselves out when I returned home.

The thing is, I returned home over 5 weeks ago…and the money is still sitting there.

Counting My Blessings

Now don’t get me wrong, I realize that I’m in a very fortunate position. Some people are pinching pennies with a bare bones budget just to get by. Others are drowning in credit card debt. Even more are concerned with various budget-drains such as health crises, unemployment, etc.

And to those people, I say hold on. Stay strong and steady your resolve to reach better days. Remember that after every storm, the sun always returns–and shines just a little bit brighter.

I was there; I know exactly what you’re going through. I know what’s it like to have $1 to my name, to be nearly homeless, and to feel as if your world is closing in around you. Throughout all of the various challenges I’ve faced in my life, one thing remains constant: My positive, can-do attitude has afforded me strength, resilience, and opportunities beyond my wildest dreams.

Looking back at the crazy ride this year (and my overall financial journey) has been, I’m incredibly grateful. If you’re looking for proof that hard work does indeed pay off, take a walk through some of the archives here. Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration along the way that will help you count your own blessings (and figure out how to turn things around in a positive way).

What to Do with $100K?

After some calculations about what I’d like to keep in my e-fund, travel funds, and an extra “I’m a freelancer” cushion, I have roughly $100K to work with. And quite frankly, it still sort of makes my jaw drop to realize that I’m able to type this, let alone make such big financial decisions.

I’ll admit that there’s a large part of me that wants to squirrel this money away in the safest ways possible because it literally represents a lifetime of hard work to get to this point. More than luck with a real estate sale, this money is a testament to how far I’ve come: From the credit card debt-ridden college grad with small town roots to the debt-free woman living in the big city.

But then there’s the flipside…

I’m a personal finance blogger; I should be doing something more with my money! I should be investing smartly and increasing my returns! I need to make my money work hard for me!

Yeah.

What to do with $100K? I’m really not sure. What I do know is that I’m a bit paralyzed from an interesting mix of excitement, fear, skepticism, disbelief, and confusion. I’m not sure if I want to purchase an investment property (I’m purposely renting for the next year as I found an incredible deal that’s allowing me to pursue more lucrative freelancing opportunities without being locked into a Boston-sized mortgage again), invest in stock, hire a financial planner, or just go nuts with CDs and bonds (yay, safety!).

I’d love to hear your suggestions and experiences with investing larger sums of money. What did you/they do? Any specific do/don’t strategies are appreciated!  :)

What Would You Do with $100K?

Five Ways to Save on Household Expenses

Household Expenses Both owning a house and renting can have its ups and downs. Having somewhere to live that is warm, cozy and filled with your very own belongings is of course an asset; however, monthly bills, mortgage repayments and decorating costs are a huge yet necessary expenditure.

Although running a household is expensive at the best of times, there are a number of factors to consider if you wish to minimize costs.

Combine Your Services

If you’re currently paying separate providers for the likes of internet, phone and cable services, you could in actual fact be paying a great deal more than you need to. By combining the three and choosing just the one provider, you may save up to £20 per month on these bills.

It’s also a systematic way to control what’s going in and out of your account, as bills from the same provider will go out at the same time, whilst bills from another may leave your account at various times throughout the month. This can become confusing and when you think your bank account is looking healthy, it may only be a matter of days before you’re in the red again.

Alter Contracts

If you’ve been with the same phone, internet or television package for many years now, it may be wise to look elsewhere. A number of companies will often offer promotional deals, especially to new customers and you may find that other providers boast a better deal to that of what you are already paying.

Cut Back On Extras

If you’re trying to save a little money, it’s time to ask yourself whether or not you need that TV package that boasts every channel under the sun or that monthly magazine subscription that you never quite get a chance to read. All of these little costs add up and cutting down on unnecessary extras can save a great deal per month.

Collect Coupons

Magazines, newspapers and local supermarkets will often issue coupons to readers and regular clients. Such coupons can be used in conjunction with your weekly shop, which will in turn save you a great deal in the long run, especially if you have many hungry mouths to feed.

Cut Your Insurance Premiums

Insurance is an important policy to have but it can also be extremely costly. This is where scouring the market comes into play. There are a number of providers out there and unless you look you may miss out on the best deals.

If you are struggling with household bills, you may find lending options at websites such as www.everyday-loans.co.uk. But always remember that you should be able to afford your repayments!

 

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