Healthy financial habits

Nix the New Year’s Resolution! 7 Good Money Habits for All Year Long

By Lacey Frazier
Updated
Published

Going overboard on your holiday spending? I don’t know about you, but for me staying home has never seemed so expensive! From internet costs and high home heating bills to Christmas gifts and newsletter postage, it’s getting tougher to stay on top of all things $$$. But don’t let your financial goals get tossed into your ‘New Year’s resolution’ bucket—cuz, uh, only 8% of us actually achieve those goals.[1] (WHAT?!?)

Instead, reimagine your money goals as good money habits to develop and practice AAALLL year. With that long-term approach in mind, here are the personal finance strategies you can use to start saving money now. All you’ll need is a little perseverance and determination (cue “Eye of the Tiger”) to follow these personal finance tips.

Make a dream board.

This may seem silly, but if you start visualizing yourself making better decisions, you might set yourself up to fulfill those dreams. Create a dream board with pictures on a wall, on the fridge, or in your phone—wherever you look every day. Or, just make a list and keep it somewhere obvious, like a bathroom mirror.

Be careful not to simply visualize success, though—you’ll wanna visualize the actual motions necessary to get there.[2] So instead of imagining yourself driving a new car, think about how awesome it will feel to save your takeout food money and instead watch it accumulate in a savings account.

Create a money mantra.

Research suggests that mantras and meditation can improve mood and cognitive function.[3] Combine that with a financial mindset and you’ve got a phrase to tell yourself every time you spend money. Repeating that phrase can help you feel calmer and more in control of your personal finances.

For example, whenever you go to charge something on your debit card, think about one of these mantras, or make your own:

  • I am going to be debt-free by ______.
  • I can work harder.
  • I can save more.
  • How does this expense enrich my life?
  • I can live without this.
  • I am happiest when I am free from debt.
  • I am not defined by how much I spend on _______.

Tip: Print your mantra and tape it onto the front of your credit or debit card.

Find a mentor and ask for feedback.

There’s a reason why the Jedi master/apprentice situation works for defeating evil in the galaxy. (Not that money’s evil or anything…) Depending on a mentor means you can get help with training and achieving your goals. So surrounding yourself with people who are saving up or trying to pay off debt could actually help YOU do that as well.

Start by sharing your financial goals with your mentor, ask for their feedback, and accept criticism. Asking for feedback is one of the top habits that millionaires use to improve themselves, so I’m just sayin’…it seems to work well![4]

Face the facts.

Now’s not the time to avoid the truth. What you don’t know can hurt you, sometimes in the form of overdraft or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees. The FDIC recommends tracking withdrawals and purchases, and if you can, keeping a small cushion of funds in your account to avoid overdrafts.[5]

So use this opportunity to look at all your balances to get a picture of where you’re at financially:

  • checking account
  • savings account
  • credit card(s)
  • loan balance(s)
  • mortgage principle balance
  • Health Savings Account (HSA)
  • retirement savings account (401(k) or IRA)
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

Hopefully now you can be honest about your money habits and avoid some pitfalls like bank overdraft fees or interest on a loan balance. You might even be able to target some potential growth opportunities, like increasing a monthly retirement fund contribution by 1%.

Got all that? Now, if you want to go next level, check your credit score and calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. This is important because creditors use your credit score and DTI to decide if they want to lend to you. And, if you’re DTI is higher than 43%, you might not get more stable loans like a Qualified Mortgage.[6] Yikes! But good to know.

Set some short term and long term goals.

Now let’s assess spending habits and financial goals. Where does the money go? Let’s identify needs vs. wants. (Hint: only spend on what you need.) Now’s the time to cast a vision for yourself. Write down specific financial goals, like these ones:

Get organized.

Um, anyone else avoiding that stack of bills/coupons/purse crumbs hiding behind the pile of dirty dishes on the kitchen counter? Yeah, that’d be me. No wonder it’s hard to focus on personal finance stuff—research shows that household clutter can make it difficult to complete a task efficiently.[7]

One way to combat that avoidance streak is to dedicate a physical location JUST for money stuff. So, maybe a shoebox in your home to stash mail, a folder in your email for bank statements and bills, desktop shortcuts to all your bank/credit card accounts, a secure password book, etc. Calendar reminders can help, too, so consider plugging in your paydays, due dates, and anything else important so you get some warning before things go downhill.

Avoid temptation.

This is the part that gets tough. If you only want to spend on what you need, you gotta stop drooling after your wants. Online shopping addiction during the pandemic can be a real thing. It’s far too easy to want that instant gratification and self-esteem boost from shopping online when the real world feels so limiting.

So to avoid impulse buying, consider deleting the shopping apps on your phone and unsubscribing from those retailer emails. You could even select ‘not interested’ on any ads you see so they stop popping up in your peripheral view. If you suffer from FOMO or get jealous of your friend’s latest look, consider limiting your time on social media (or internet surfing in general). Ironically, you can try the OFFTIME app for Apple or Android to help control your internet time.

To the new year, and a happier (more financially stable) you!

Don’t dwell on the past! Keep moving toward those goals. It may seem like holiday overspending has really put you in a bind, but it’s important to not let that bog you down. Keep moving forward into a better financial tomorrow! Take some of these personal finance tips or implement your own strategies so you can get your New Year’s resolutions started right. Then, make them into good money habits for all year long. Cheers!

Sources:


  1. Economy, P. (2019, December 30). 10 Top New Year’s Resolutions for Success and Happiness in 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2020.html. ↩︎

  2. Morin, A. (2018, November 16). Why Vision Board Don’t Work (And What You Should Do Instead). Retrieved from: https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/science-says-your-vision-board-actually-decreases-chances-of-living-your-dreams-heres-what-to-do-instead.html ↩︎

  3. Vilhauer, J. (2019, June 29). Mantra: A Powerful Way to Improve Your Well-Being. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-forward/201906/mantra-powerful-way-improve-your-well-being ↩︎

  4. Hoffower, H. (2020, January 16). 17 things millionaires do differently from everyone else. Retrieved from: https://www.businessinsider.com/millionaire-habits-how-to-build-wealth-time-energy-money-2019-4. ↩︎

  5. Staff. (2016, March 22). Your Guide to Preventing and Managing Overdraft Fees. Retrieved from: https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/overdraft/ ↩︎

  6. Staff. (2019, November 15). What is a debt-to-income ratio? Why is the 43% debt-to-income ratio important? Retrieved from: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-a-debt-to-income-ratio-why-is-the-43-debt-to-income-ratio-important-en-1791. ↩︎

  7. Ryback, R. (2016, July 11). The Powerful Psychology Behind Cleanliness. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201607/the-powerful-psychology-behind-cleanliness ↩︎

About
Lacey Frazier
Read more from Lacey
Growing up in a family with four very active and involved kids, money was often tight. I was raised to be smart with money by picking up tips on how to spend wisely, pinching pennies where I can, and finding good deals. I love a glass of good wine and a plate of greasy tacos as much as I enjoy sharing the lowdown on getting the most out of every hard-earned dollar. Cheers!

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