Small Changes for Improving Your Financial Health in the New Year
The New Year is a time for powerful new beginnings. It also presents an opportunity to look at our everyday habits –whether those habits relate to our health and fitness or our money habits as we manage any financial challenges.
What is a habit? A good working definition is that a habit is a routine behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur without a lot of conscious thought.
Many of us already have healthy habits that we do by routine – like brushing our teeth or washing our hands.
We might also have healthy money habits. Carefully reviewing your credit card statements each month could be a habit you already have in place, for example. As the year gets underway, there are opportunities to reinforce healthy money habits that already work for you. And it’s an opportunity to create new habits like writing down financial goals or building savings.
Make It a Habit
Building positive money habits can affect your entire wellbeing. Here are a few ideas to try as the New Year gets underway.
1. Make a Goal (and Write It Down)
Goal-setting gives you direction. You can decide on your destination and make a plan to get there. This action might seem small, but it’s not. Make it a habit to look at monthly finances and jot down one or two goals. The goal could be taking a bite out of your credit card balances or setting aside a small amount each month for a large purchase.
2. Set it and Forget It
You likely have many of your outgoing bills set to “automatic payment,” which is a positive money habit. Setting up “auto pay” on monthly utilities, cable, and other bills lets you be sure bills are paid on time. Consider setting up “auto save” as well. If you set a goal to save for a big purchase, like the down payment for a car, automate monthly savings to help you achieve your goal. Set up automatic transfers or use direct deposit from your paycheck to automatically place funds in your goal account.
3. Spend with Care
Mindful spending is a powerful financial habit to build. If you don’t already have one, build the habit of using a monthly spending or budgeting plan. You’ll learn how much money you have to work with, the amount that is going out each month for bills and expenses, what you need to set aside for other bills and living expenses, and how much you can devote to your goal from each paycheck.
4. Deal with Debt
Think about your habits when using your credit card and when considering your total debt situation. Are most of your purchases made with consumer credit cards? What are your current credit card balances and other debt balances? Listing out all your monthly debt payments helps you stay aware and act if needed. If you are in the habit of only making minimum payments on your credit card balances or experiencing collection calls, consider learning about how a Debt Management Plan can get help support healthy money habits.
5. Celebrate Your Progress
As we noted, you likely have many positive habits already. That’s something to be proud of, as you can apply those lessons to building new money habits. Make it simple. Tackle one habit at a time and celebrate your wins. The New Year is sure to be a success when you tackle one habit at a time and make it work for you.
Ready to build new money habits?
Our partner GreenPath specializes in helping people improve their financial wellness.