Need to Get your Finances on Track? These 7 New Year’s Resolutions Can Help
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.
To get started, 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
Your options in this arena vary far and wide, but here are some ideas you might be able to run with.
1. Get a Side Gig
The gig economy is booming, so take advantage of it.
Or if I don’t want to leave your apartment? (Which is typically the case…) There are always those survey sites. No, you won’t get rich, but you can make extra money.
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
I keep telling myself I’m going to start freelance writing.
If you’re like me and keep spinning your wheels, use this guide to setting up an LLC to get started. I have taken the first step — creating a website — to establish my brand. The process isn’t easy or smooth, but it’ll be worth it.
Save Your Money
I’m really bad at this, so let’s just get started.
4. Create — and Follow — a Budget
Like creating a grocery list, I really, really, really, really hate the idea of budgeting. Really. I’ve tried to do it so many times and continue to fail. However, the new year makes me feel positive, so it’s time to try again.
Good news for me: There’s an app — or two or three — for this.
One recommendation 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.
Then, to help monitor my credit card spending, I’ve started using Birch Finance. It breaks my spending down by month — and even day. It helps hold me accountable. Plus, it recommends the best credit card for rewards.
By following a budget, you can be more aware of where your money is going and where you can save.
5. Open an Untouchable Savings Account
If you haven’t already, consider doing this.
Many of you with financial resolutions noted wanting to save money — whether it’s to start an emergency fund, to pay off bills or debt or to 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.
Pro tip: Be sure to keep an eye out for sign-up bonuses.
Invest Your Money
Once you’ve got a little extra income and have a savings started, consider investing.
6. Open a Retirement Account
Thanks to The Penny Hoarder, I have my first 401(k). I’ve also optimized it courtesy of the robo-advisor Blooom.
However, I know there’s more I can do to secure my future.
I consulted one of my favorite articles: a comparison of different ways to plan for retirement.
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 Start Micro-Investing
This is an easy-peasy way to start investing.
Many folks in our community group mentioned their favorite apps, which include Clink, Motif and Stash.
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, doing something like opening a retirement account isn’t that hard. It’s just a matter of digging in and doing it.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.