Many people find it easy to begin the journey during the first week of January, but by March, bad habits begin to resurface.
Here are eightÂ tips from our partners at Trusted Choice that can take your finances to the next level â€”and help you stay financially strong throughout the entire year.
Take a snapshot
Having an idea of what you want to do is great, but putting your plan on paper is the key to success. Pull out a pen and calendar and write down your life ambitions, upcoming events and realistic financial goals. This will give you a snapshot of the reasons for tightening your financial belt and will serve as a useful reminder when times get tough.
Hold a Gift Exchange
Did your children receive tons of clothes from your family for Christmas? Before you pop tags, evaluate how many shirts and pants they truly needâ€”then pack up the remaining items and head to the store. Ask if you can exchange the clothing for larger sizes and get the same pieces in sizes your child would wear a year from now. You will save money in the long run without upsetting well-intentioned gift givers.
Use the fireplace
Energy bills creep up on you during the winter months. The fireplace is the perfect way to offset costs. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, put it to good use during the colder months. Come up with creative ways to feel the heat, like having a family game night in the living room by the fireplace.
Lead by example
Donâ€™t wait until theyâ€™re heading off to collegeâ€”teach your children to be financially savvy at an early age. When they receive cash gifts or an allowance, show them what itâ€™s like to be in the real world by making them save a percentage of their money or â€œtaxingâ€ their money. You can secretly put some in an interest-bearing account and, each year, show them how their money is growing. By the time your kids are ready to leave the nest, theyâ€™ll thank you for helping them to create a healthy nest-egg.
Â Sleep on it
Youâ€™ve heard this piece of advice before, and itâ€™s still relevant: Donâ€™t make impulse purchases during your journey toward financial freedom. This doesnâ€™t mean you shouldnâ€™t buy anything, but you should definitely give yourself time to think about why you are making the purchase and whether it aligns with your financial plan (see Tip #1). Shop around, do your research and revisit your plan to ensure you are making the right decisions.
Do the 52-Week Money Challenge â€¦ in Reverse
If youâ€™ve never heard of the 52-Week Money Challenge, youâ€™re missing out. This is a fun, year-long savings plan that will leave you with $1,378 at the end of the year. The plan originally calls for a person to start by saving $1 the first week, $2 the second week and so onâ€”each week, the number continues to increase. But instead, try the challenge in reverse, saving $52 the first week, $51 the second week and so on. You will stay motivated by seeing immediate resultsâ€”and as the weekly amounts decrease, it becomes easier to continue the challenge.
Â Start a side business
Are people always asking you to sing? Earn money singing at weddings. Do you bake the best cookies on the block? Ask friends about catering their next event. Everyone is good at something, and using your talents to make a little extra cash on the side will definitely help you to reach your 2015 financial goals.
Â Take note of your triple payday
Most employees have 26 pay periods within a year. This means that two times out of the year, youâ€™ll receive three paychecks in one month instead of just two. Take advantage of these times to attack those nagging bills you could pay off in one payment. Consider your insurance premiumâ€”you could pay your entire premium for six months, which would free up more monthly cash during that six-month period. Do it all over again when your extra pay period comes around and youâ€™ll always feel ahead of the financial â€œgameâ€.