Time seems to be flying, as we have made it to the end of the year.
For many of us, this is a time for reflection and preparing goals for next year. While you can start working on your goals whenever you want, the new year often seems like a great opportunity for new beginnings. There are things that you can do right now to take make strides toward financial freedom.
Here are 10 easy financial goals you can meet this month.
1. Create a Budget You Can Stick To
Creating a budget is a great way to start meeting your financial goals. Everyone can benefit from a budget. This gives you a full picture of what’s going on currently and what you need to do to meet your goals.
Start with writing down all of your monthly bills. Then write down the amount that you bring in each month. If you have a spouse or significant other, you may also want to include their details in your budget.
Once you have all of the relevant information, you’ll know if you have a deficit or surplus. This helps you plan accordingly. Keep the following in mind: Your housing (rent or mortgage) should be 30 percent or less of your monthly income. If you have a car payment, it should not exceed 10 percent of your monthly income.
Savings are important, so try to put at least 10% away each month. Consider this when making your budget.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Budgeting
2. Track Your Spending
This is one of the easy financial goals to meet. Tracking your spending doesn’t have to be a chore. Technology has made it easy as checking your phone.
Whether it’s using a mobile banking app or an app like Mint or Wally, tracking your expenses can be fun. Some banking apps provide you with a breakdown of your spending and exactly where your money is being spent.
For example, my banking app provides a pie chart of where and how I spend my money. It breaks it down by category, like entertainment or dining out. This helped me a lot when I was trying to determine where my money was going and areas that needed improvement (hello take out).
Mint is great because it helps with budgeting and tracking expenses (2 for 1). You can connect your bank accounts and credit cards, lets you know when bills are due, alerts you when bills are due and what you can afford to pay.
Wally provides a simple way to track your expenses. Instead of having to manually type everything in, Wally allows you take photos of your receipts and updates your balance accordingly. Choose whatever method that works best for you, but you can start tracking your spending today.
3. Say No to Temptation
Resisting the urge to spend money frivolously is the key to progress. While there are always going to be things that we want, what you need is far more important. In order to reach your financial goals, you cannot buy everything you want.
The holidays are an especially difficult time to resist splurging on everything you see. However, exercising discipline now can save you money and headaches next year.
It is too often that we overspend at the end of the year and begin the New Year in debt. Make a concerted effort to say no to temptation. Focus on your needs and before you make any purchases, ask yourself “does this factor into my long-term goals?”
4. Think Happy Thoughts
This may sound silly but hear me out. It has been said that money is an energy. If you want to attract positive energy, you should start with your thoughts.
If you are constantly thinking that you will never make progress toward your goals, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Some of the world’s wealthiest people begin their day with positive affirmations. These include mentions of money. A friend taught me one years ago. She recites the same mantra every day; “I am a money magnet, money flows to me in avalanches of abundance”. Give it a try, you never know what can happen.
5. Give to Receive
Part of attracting positive energy is to put it out positive energy. While it is important to remain within your budget when trying to meet your goals, consider incorporating charitable donations and contributions as part of your plan. There are always those who are less fortunate than you, and even just giving a dollar here and there can make a difference.
Whether it is donating to your favorite non-profit or tithing a percentage of your money to church, you will reap the benefits of how great it makes you feel. That positive energy is bound to make its way back to you in one form or another.
6. Open a High-Yield Saving Account
We are all interested in saving more money. While it’s great to have the discipline to put money away, traditional savings account don’t always offer the most bang for your buck.
Contributing money each month to a high yield savings account allows your money to make money. Online banking can be a great resource for such accounts. Banks like Ally and American Express Banking offer competitive rates.
Editor’s note: I’ve been saving with Capital One 360 for years and I love this online bank. You can get $25 for opening a high-yield checking or savings account with them when you use my referral link!
Shop around and get the most bang for your buck. Set up automated drafts to help make it easier to reach your financial goals.
Set financial goals now and reap the benefits next year. Your goals don’t have to be massive and you can get a head start by meeting some smaller financial goals this month before the year is over.
Be diligent about your financial plans and leave room to adjust.
7. Monitor Your Credit
When was the last time you checked your credit? You can view your credit report from all three major bureaus for free once a year by downloading it at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also monitor your credit for free by using CreditSesame.
CreditSesame allows you to see your score and the factors that contribute to it. They also watch for identity theft and give you pointers on how you can improve your score.
It literally takes 5 minutes to get set up on CreditSesame and they do all the monitoring work for you so this is an easy goal to accomplish this month.
8. Create an Additional Stream of Income
The average self-made millionaire has 7 streams of income. That said, even if you’re living comfortably, an additional stream of income probably wouldn’t hurt. I love making extra money and diversifying your income isn’t as difficult as it seems.
You can side hustle or just monetize one or your hobbies or skills. Like to bake? Maybe you can decorate cakes for others. Like to work on computers? Create a service offering where you help troubleshoot tech issues and do repairs.
You can also consider more passive income streams whether it’s writing e-books, renting out a spare room in your home, or joining a peer to peer lending platform.
9. Sign Up For Life Insurance
If you don’t have life insurance already, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk. There are so many misconceptions out there about life insurance but it’s one of the best ways to protect your loved ones during unforeseen circumstances.
Plus, term life insurance is relatively cheap. This is why I’d recommend exploring your options and signing up for a life insurance policy that best meets your needs and preferences.
Also, check out this helpful article: 7 Common Life Insurance Mistakes You Need to Stop Making.
10. Pick Up As Much Spare Change As You Can Find
This is a fun and easy financial goal you should be able to accomplish this month no problem. Don’t underestimate the value of spare change. Get a mason jar and label it the title of something you want to save for whether it’s a nice vacation or even a new T.V. Only allow yourself to fund this savings goal with spare change you pick up over time.
Then, start picking up as much spare change as you can find over the next 30 days. The total amount you wind up with might surprise you. You can continue working toward this goal all year round.
As you can see, financial goals don’t have to be tough and difficult to reach. In fact, it’s the smaller goals that often end up being more promising. Don’t wait to start getting your finances in order when you can start working toward some of these smaller money goals this month.
Do you have financial goals that you’ve set for next year? Are you prepared to start today?
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