5 ways to accomplish your financial goals in 2019
Just about everyone sets resolutions after January 1. A recent Better Sleep Council poll found nearly 90 percent of Americans consider making new personal goals when the year begins anew.
The resolutions people hope to achieve are as numerous as the stars in the sky — and many of them relate to money. The BSC survey found spending less and saving more was the fourth-most popular one in 2018.
More important than setting resolutions is actually achieving them. That's easier said than done — as anyone who's tried knows. Now that a little time has passed, some of those goals may have been set on back burners by now. Here are five steps that can help you get new inspiration and cross the financial wellness finish line.
1. Write down the goal
Goals are like problems: You have to define them in order to go about reaching or solving them. As recommended by the American Institute of CPAs, ask yourself "What do I want?" when it comes to finances. Are you looking to save more money? Get out of debt? Improve your credit? Be as specific as possible.
2. Keep track of your spending
Here's an eye-opening stat: Nearly 70 percent of U.S. gross domestic product derives from consumer spending. You can understand why. Everyone buys to improve their lives, whether it's basic necessities or wants, like the latest smartphone or tablet.
It's the ongoing expenses that really add up. Whatever you buy or spend on a daily, weekly or annual basis, jot it down. Alternatively, consider downloading a mobile app. There are literally dozens of free and pay-for apps that can help you identify what your money is going toward and how you can go about curbing spending if anything seems disproportionate.
3. Take control of your credit
If you've ever borrowed money, you have a credit score, which is a barometer of your money management habits. Generally speaking, the higher your credit score, the better off you'll be in terms of approval and interest rates for loans.
If you're not checking your score at least every few months, get into that habit. Your score will improve by paying down debt, keeping balances low and consistently meeting bill deadlines.
4. Budget, budget, budget
The ideal is never having to worry about money. A great way to achieve this aim is through budgeting. Making a budget requires running the numbers. Whether it's for groceries, dining out or spending for your kids' extracurricular activities, set a limit for each category and commit to not going over it. The money saved adds up rather quickly.
5. Outline a deadline
Deadlines for accomplishing goals can be tricky because you don't want to set up one too soon, or late. In other words, you want it to be achievable, but not in a time period that's unrealistic.
Talk to a financial advisor about setting up a deadline that is challenging enough for it to require accountability and discipline. Mobile apps may offer suggestions on the ideal time line.
Here's to 2019 being the year your money goals become financial feats!