Okay folks. It’s over. No more gifts. No more parties. It’s time to get back to your normal lives and try not to let the holiday hangover ruin your finances for the next 12 months. Now is the time to take stock of your financial life and set your plans for the year. Do you have any financial goals? Do you have a budget? Are you trying to get out of debt? Here’s how to get your finances in order for the New Year.
Review Your Finances From the Last Year
It’s important to look back and learn from your past. Are there things you did well? Are there things that you could improve? You may not have the documentation to review every financial decision that you made in the last year, but you can probably remember most of your major financial decisions if you think about it. You can also look up old bills and account information for any online accounts you have. Did you pay too much for cable TV and mobile phone services? Maybe you spent a lot at restaurants or clothing stores. If you want to improve your finances and get out of debt, it helps to look back and learn from your past behavior. Don’t make the same mistakes this year.
Create Your Budget for the New Year
Start by identifying all your sources of income and all of your expenses on a monthly basis. Use this Household Budgeting Worksheet to help you get organized. This will show you exactly what you spend each month in every category, like rent, utilities, groceries, entertainment, loan payments, personal care, and more. It will also show you what you have left for savings at the end of each month, and if there are areas in which you are overspending. You cannot make a plan for your money until you know where your money is going. So this is an important step.
Set Financial Goals
Whether you’re making a financial New Year’s resolution, working towards getting out of debt, or saving for a large purchase, it’s important to have a specific goal. To make sure you’re setting appropriate and attainable goals, check out our previous post about SMART goals.
Make a Plan for Your Financial Goals
Once your goal is determined, you must make a plan to achieve it. Identify specific actions you will take and measurements you will use to make sure you are staying on track towards your goal. Again, see the previous post on SMART goals to help with this.
With a clear picture of your finances, an organized budget, and a solid plan of attack, you will be ready to gain control of your financial life and achieve your goals in the New Year. Be sure to visit the Financial Education section of ConsumerCredit.com for many helpful resources to help you along the way.
Happy New Year!