Amy Miller, AFC®
Looking to make some changes in 2023 and improve your finances? You’re not alone. The new year symbolizes a fresh start, leading many Americans to set New Year’s Resolutions each year.
According to a recent survey by Accent, nearly 66% of the Americans who set resolutions this year, will set at least one related to personal finances. The majority want to save more while others want to tackle debt or improve credit.
With that in mind, here are a few simple money resolutions for you to consider that can help you get on track to improved financial health in 2023.
Resolution #1: Create a Budget
Committing to a better financial future starts with knowing what you’ve got to work with. This is where a budget, with an outlined spending and savings plan, can help.
Budgets need to cover three things:
- How much do you bring in (money in)
- How much you’re spending (money out)
- How much you’re saving (money set aside somewhere else)
If you are not sure where your money is going, track your spending for 30 days (we’ll review expense tracker apps in another blog this month). Once you know what you are spending, determine how much you need to cover your monthly living expenses and how much you would like to put to your goals. Once you commit, automating payments and savings transfers makes goal achievement easier.
Resolution #2: Manage Your Debt
For many of us, debt is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a necessity for most when it comes to making large purchases like a car or a home. Problems arise when debt becomes a burden. According to data, pulled together by MoneyCrashers, Americans’ collective credit card debt balance hit $930 billion in Q3 2022. That’s a $43 billion jump from the previous quarter. Worrying about how to pay the bills can not only affect your mindset but can be harmful to your health.
Working to get yourself out of debt can boost both your mental and physical health and well-being. Additionally, freeing up income from debt can boost your morale and confidence while creating opportunities for you to save for your future.
Review all your debt to include payment terms and interest rates and then create a debt reduction plan. Use extra funds, when possible, to pay toward your highest-interest debts first. You can use tools like https://powerpay.org/ to help get your debt repayment plan on track.
Resolution #3: Prepare for the Unexpected
Life is full of surprises. Unexpected financial situations happen to all of us. Not having the funds to cover them can make bad situations even worse. According to CNBC, 56% of Americans haven’t saved enough to cover a $1,000 emergency expense.
Having an emergency fund will help you prepare for anything that may come your way.
It doesn’t take much to get started – set a goal and automate deposits directly from your employer to your savings account. Having funds to fall back on will make you feel more secure, reduce stress, and help improve your overall health and well-being.
Resolution #4: Monitor and Improve Your Credit
It’s important to regularly check your credit report. Not only is it imperative to monitor for fraud and identity theft, but it’s also important to ensure the correct information is being reported to the credit bureaus.
Each year, every American is entitled to a free credit report from each of the Big Three Credit Reporting Agencies (Equifax, Experian & TransUnion). You can get your report by visiting annualcreditreport.com.
Once you know what is on the report, you can work to improve any negative items that could be lowering your credit score. It’s also important to pay your bills on time and in full, lower your overall credit utilization, (balances vs. available credit) and refrain from opening any new, unnecessary accounts.
It is also vital to check for correct information. If you find errors on your credit report, you can report them to one of the Big Three CRAs. This article from the Federal Trade Commission can help.
Resolution #5: Change your Mindset
Our money mindset sets the tone for all our financial decisions. Our money mindset is derived from the beliefs and perceptions we have formed based on our past life experiences. It can stem from how our parents handled money, how our friends and social circles view money and our own insights.
Having a positive mindset makes all the difference. Working to improve how we look at and handle money can be the difference between meeting our goals or feeling defeated and discouraged.
Choosing happiness sounds simple but can prove to be challenging for many of us. Maintaining a positive mindset, especially when it comes to money, takes work. It requires avoiding negative thoughts or influences, focusing on the present, and regularly reminding yourself of the good things going on in your life.
Success in 2023
For many, the annual setting of resolutions provides a certain optimism about the future, even if they’ve not always been successful at accomplishing them.
Success can be achieved when the right goals are set along with a realistic plan for achieving them.
The new year is a perfect time to start fresh.
Ask yourself: What can I do to make this year better than the last?
Happy New Year!