Most New Year’s resolutions end in failure. News flash, huh? The key to making a New Year’s resolution work for you is to treat them like baby steps rather than huge leaps forward. After all, it’s no big deal to lose a couple of pounds, but losing 50 seems like an impossible task.
Similarly, you can tackle most financial resolutions much more easily by taking them in small chunks. Try these nine resolutions on for size:
1. Read ONE financial book
You don’t even have to buy one, just use the local library. There are probably dozens of great books there just waiting to be checked out. If you don’t see one you want, many libraries will order whatever you want to read. Just ask. I would recommend these:
- How A Second Grader Beats Wall Street
- The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
- Debt is Slavery: and 9 Other Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me About Money
- I.O.U.S.A.: One Nation. Under Stress. In Debt.
- The Millionaire Next Door
- Outliers: The Story of Success
2. List your debts
List every debt you owe with the interest rate and minimum payment. If you want to get out of debt, make a resolution to just get started by making a list and checking it twice. If you can, consider making double payments on your credit accounts. If you keep paying that same amount each month, never charging another penny and you’ll pay off your credit card in less than three years, regardless of the current balance.
3. Get on a budget
The easiest way to get on and stay on a budget is to find a smarter way to manage your money. For many families, that’s using the Mint.com system of budgeting. Take a tour of Mint.com and see if you’re as impressed as I am.
4. Monitor your mortgage
By planning to plan to pay just a little extra every month, you can pay the mortgage off early and save a fortune in interest. If your rate is floating, or if you have a home equity loan, consolidate now to a fixed-rate loan, if possible.
5. Play a money saving game
Check out 17 Sneaky Savings Strategies and resolve to implement just one. Once you do that, start another, then another, then another. Before you know it, you’ll be saving money left and right!
6. Develop an alternative income
There are all sorts of ways to make extra money and develop a side income. Lots of hobbies and interests can be developed cash streams with just a little effort. If you find a way to make just $1 in a new way, you have succeeded. You aren’t trying to replace your current income, just to make some extra money to invest or pay down debt. Most of the time starting is the hardest part, but then later expanding your earnings from this new income stream could potentially be quite easy.
7. Secure your identity
Banks used to be robbed, primarily because that was where “the money was at,” but today, when your identity is for sale to he highest bidder,”the money” is in cyberspace. It’s easier and safer to steal someone’s identity, making off with a couple thousand bucks than to rob a bank. The result: you have to take actions to protect yourself. The credit freeze is one possibility, but it has some drawbacks, namely that it has to be turned on and off and back on again anytime you apply for credit. That can be a pain.
One thing that I personally use and have had great results with is TrueCredit’s 3-Bureau Credit Monitoring. I personally use this service and can wholeheartedly recommend it. It is worth the small monthly fee to have this peace of mind, particularly after the nightmare I went through with having my identity stolen.
8. Evaluate your insurance
Do you have disability insurance? Do you have health insurance? Do you have life insurance? Do you have enough? Do you think it’s too expensive? Check out InsureMe.com to get competitive rates and information on car, homeowners, health, and life insurance. If you haven’t gotten your insurance quoted in the last 24 months, you’re probably getting ripped off.
It doesn’t take but a few minutes and it could save you a LOT of cash.
9. Update your estate plan
Review your documents and your will, keeping in mind that state laws DO apply — so if you’ve moved recently, be sure that your documents comply with your new state’s requirements.
[tags]insurance, personal finance, money, credit, credit cards, debt, investment, identity theft[/tags]
photo credit: bionicteaching