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5 Tips to Help Your Financial Resolutions Come True this Year

What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2017? If you’re like most of us, you’re probably focused on improving your finances. With money being a top source of stress, many people are setting financial resolutions to help them stay on track. We know how hard it can be to keep resolutions, especially when they deal with money. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips and guidelines to help your financial goals come true.

couple sits together reviewing their finances

#1: Review Your Current Financial Situation

Take inventory of your finances:

To get started, review your financial goals from last year. Were you able to achieve them? Did you have any setbacks? What was the most challenging part? Did you even set any goals? It’s important to ask yourself these questions to get a gauge of where you are financially. You’ll never know where you need to go unless you have an honest understanding of where you are. Check out your budget and look at your bank statements to see where you can improve.

Reassess your priorities:

Your inventory will help you determine your priorities for 2017. What is truly important to you and your family? Make sure you align your financial goals with your personal priorities. For example, if you have a young family who depends on you for financial support, consider purchasing life insurance. This would protect your family financially in case something was to happen to you.

Plan for the upcoming year:

Consider any big plans for 2017. Are there going to be any large purchases? Do you see yourself buying a home or a new car? How about travel? Address these items when planning for the New Year. Remember to factor in any additional expenses, such as a home security system or travel insurance.

smiling young woman works on her laptop

#2: Set Yourself Up For Success

Finances are complicated enough. Do whatever you can to simplify the process.

Use online budgeting tools:

Following and updating your budget is one of the most important things you can do to keep your financial resolutions. Unfortunately, budgets can be confusing and time-consuming.

To help you stay on track, there are a variety of online budget tools that are both helpful and user-friendly. They simplify the budgeting process from start to finish. Many can link to your bank account and automatically update any time you make a purchase. They also divide your expenses into categories. This makes it easy for you to see what you’re actually spending money on. Some of the more popular online budgeting tools include Mint, PearBudget, and YouNeedABudget.

You can also manage your budget manually using an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet. Check out our Holiday Budget Template as an example.

Set up automatic payments:

Never miss a payment again. Automatic payments are a simple, effective way to manage your bills. Simply schedule your bills to be paid on a certain day, and they will automatically go through each month. By setting up automatic payments, you can cross one thing off your to-do list. It’s easy to set up automatic bill pay through most checking and savings accounts. Check with your bank for more specific instructions.

retired couple sits on lake deck

#3. Think About The Future

You never know what the future will bring. Make sure you’re prepared no matter what.

Budget for unexpected accidents:

Medical bills are expensive and can cause financial damage if you’re not prepared. They’re also the number one cause for personal bankruptcy. Don’t take the risk. Learn how to prevent high hospital bills. Consider purchasing an accidental injury plan that pays a lump-sum cash benefit if you end up in a hospital.

Consider disability insurance:

What would happen to your family if you weren’t able to work and provide an income? According to the US Census Bureau, more than 50 percent of Americans are classified as disabled while in their working years. A majority of these injuries stem from chronic back issues or muscle pain.

Consider purchasing disability income insurance if your family relies heavily on your income. Ensurem offers several plans that are affordable and customizable for you and your family.

Save towards your long term goals:

The future is not that far away. If you have major long-term goals like purchasing a home, starting a family or retiring, make sure to accumulate savings. Give yourself a head start on your future. If you’re thinking about retiring soon, consider purchasing annuities as part of your planning process. Annuities provide a guaranteed return on your investment and help you generate income for years to come. Even if you aren't retiring soon, you should have a retirement savings plan in place that includes an annual checkup to see if you're on track.

young woman pays her debt on her laptop

#4. Pay Off Debt As Soon As Possible

Try the Debt Snowball Method:

The Debt Snowball Method is a term originally coined by financial expert Dave Ramsey. The method is centered around paying off your smallest debts first. To do this, put as much money as possible towards your smallest debt. Then, once that debt is paid off, apply the same amount of payment toward your second smallest debt. This will help you build momentum and feel motivated to save. Because of this, the Debt Snowball Method is one of the fastest and most effective ways possible to pay off debt.

Stop borrowing money:

To keep your financial resolutions going strong, you’ll need to make some sacrifices. If you’re focused on paying down debt this year, commit to not borrowing any more money. Only spend what you have in your account. Try not to make any big purchases that come with monthly fees. Stop shopping online. Get rid of any extra credit cards that could tempt you into more than you’re able to spend. If you truly want to cut down on your debt, it’s imperative that you stop borrowing additional money.

Cut corners when possible:

Research sales, discounts, and coupons - every little bit helps! To get you started, here are lists of tips on how to save money at the grocery store and how to dine out on a budget.

If you can, consider picking up a side job to help bring in some extra cash. You will achieve your resolutions much faster if you can prevent any additional spending and find ways to supplement your income.

young woman studies finances on her living room floor

#5. Educate Yourself

Don’t feel bad if you don’t understand finances as well as you would like. This is complex stuff. Luckily, there’s plenty of time and resources to help you learn more about the financial landscape. Take advantage of what’s out there, and make it a priority to learn more.

Tackle one topic at a time:

Learning about finances can be overwhelming. If you’re just beginning, start with one topic at a time. Determine what’s most important for you and your lifestyle and start there. For example, if your number one resolution is to pay off debt, research everything you can about debt reduction. If your goal is to buy a house, commit to learning about the financial side of homeownership. You can always learn more as you go. There is no time frame or deadlines. Just commit to learning one thing at a time.

Use resources:

There are tons of free resources available for you to access online. Some of our favorite resources include The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, The Financial Times, and Forbes.

We also offer a user-friendly guide for all our products that can serve as a valuable starting point. The information is out there. You just have to be motivated enough to find it.

Hold yourself accountable:

You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don’t hold yourself accountable, none of it will matter.

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Make it a priority to follow your budget and stick with your goals. Tell friends and family. Be proud of your resolutions. Hold yourself accountable and check in every quarter to make sure you are staying on track. If you are determined and stay motivated, your hard work will pay off!

Achieving your financial resolutions will take time and hard work, but it is completely doable. Start by reviewing your current financial situation and then think about ways to set yourself up for success, plan for the future, cut corners and educate yourself. By utilizing these tips, you’ll be sure to end the year in better financial standings and will be proud of how much you achieved in 2017.

Whether your New Year's resolutions are financially-based or not, we want to hear about them! Let us know how you're going to meet your goals in 2017 and live #LifeOptmized.

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