7 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions to Help You Get Your Finances in Order
I’m guilty of setting the bar too high.
This is why I can never keep a New Year’s resolution. Run at least four days a week? Cut desserts? Read a multitude of books?
I always fall off those wagons about three weeks into the new year, and, well, once I’m off the wagon, I’m not the type of person to hoist myself back up.
This year, though, I’m resolving to set attainable resolutions — especially when it comes to money, a very tangible, countable entity.
7 Financial Resolutions You’ll Actually Be Able to Keep in 2017
I polled our Facebook community group to see what you all are hoping to achieve in this glorious new year. Many of your resolutions align with mine. Very generally, the resolutions include making more money, starting a savings and investing.
I’ve outlined some concrete actions you — and I — can take to achieve these goals.
Make more money by securing an extra source of income.
Your options in this arena vary far and wide, but here are some ideas you might be able to run with.
1. Take advantage of the rise of the side gig.
The gig economy is booming, so take advantage of it. I keep telling myself I’m going to sign up for DogVacay as I love my furry counterparts. My boyfriend did this for a stretch, and, after setting up a routine, made a good chunk of money each week.
Also consider driving for Uber or shopping for Shipt. Now’s a great time to start as people are drinking their way into the New Year or perhaps eating a little too much — and needing more groceries — to start 2017.
2. Secure a work-from-home job.
Work-from-home jobs come in all shapes and sizes. You can opt for one that requires less experience or one that’s more specialized. You can get a full-time job from home or go with a part-time weekend job.
3. Take up freelancing.
This is one of my New Year’s resolutions — to secure a freelance writing gig. However, it isn’t one I’ll be able to check off my bucket list immediately.
I’m following parts of this freelancing guide. Right now, I’m creating a website to establish my brand. The process isn’t easy or smooth, but I’ve set up a checklist so I can tackle one task at a time.
I have a savings account. It’s one my parents started for me way back when. However, I don’t feel comfortable dipping into it unless I have no other choice.
And, now that I have a full-time job, my hard-earned money sits idly in checking account — unless I’m spending it all. Cue: a budget.
4. Create — and follow — a budget.
Like creating a grocery list, I really, really, really, really hate the idea of budgeting. Really.
However, I know it’s about time for me to tackle the task, which, in turn, will help me with my other financial resolutions.
Good news for me: There’s an app — or two or three — for this.
One staff-recommended pick is Mint, an app that keeps all of your financial information in one spot. (Think: banks, retirement and credit cards.) It’ll break down your spending by category and lets you set savings goals.
By following a real budget, I’ll be more aware of where my money is going and where I can save.
5. Open a savings account.
If you haven’t already (me), consider doing this. Many of you with financial resolutions noted wanting to save money — whether it’s to start an emergency fund; pay off bills or debt; or travel.
A savings account is a simple way to start. You can even automate your savings — dropping a certain amount in each week, month or with each paycheck.
Be sure to keep an eye out for sign-up bonuses. For example, when you open a checking and savings account with Chase, you can get $350 bonus.
Start investing your money.
Once you’ve got a little extra income and have a savings started, start considering investing.
This is another big box I’d like to check off in this new year.
6. Open a retirement account.
Thanks to The Penny Hoarder, I have my first 401(k); however, I know there’s more I can do to secure my future.
I consulted one of my favorite tools: a price comparison about different ways to plan for retirement.
With that, I’d like to set up a Roth IRA, which sounds super scary, but after an explanation it’s not. Basically, it’s a traditional IRA, but you pay taxes on the money as you earn it — versus when you take it out.
Bankrate has this awesome calculator that lets you determine the best route for you.
7. Use an app to invest.
This is an easy-peasy way to start investing.
One member, Susan, says she uses Stash and has invested nearly $250. She sets it on auto-deposit, so she doesn’t even miss the money.
In my opinion, automation is a great way to achieve a New Year’s resolution.
In all, my hope is that these concrete resolutions will help me get my booty in gear. Really, opening a retirement account isn’t that hard. It’s just a matter of digging down and doing it.
Your Turn: Tell us about your financial resolutions and how you hope to achieve them.
Disclosure: Our friends stopped inviting us over because we were always digging for loose change between their couch cushions. We use affiliate links instead so we still get invited to a few parties.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. After recently completing graduate school, she focuses on saving money — and surviving the move back in with her parents.