Last week I gave you a few of my top tips for being in your best financial shape for 2014. Here are 3 more to round out the list!
4. Put Down the ATM card
This one I struggle with myself, I have to admit. Plastic is so easy and convenient, it’s true. But that’s the problem. It is too easy to just pull out a debit card and spend it on all kinds of impulse buys that just are not necessary. Using debit and ATM cards to make everyday purchases will drain your bank account quicker than you would imagine. Instead of using your debit card for most everyday purchases, figure out how much cash you’ll need each week for your regular, cash-based purchases (things like lunch or the weekly trip to the produce market), go directly to the ATM and withdraw just enough cash to be your walking around money for the week. With a set amount of cash for the week, you will start to think twice before making those costly impulse purchases and you’ll save a ton of money.
5. Don’t Forget to Pay Yourself
At the foundation of every budget is the act of paying expenses. Consider yourself, and your future, to be one of these necessary expenses. In addition to your regular savings account, make every effort to set aside something each month for contributions to a retirement plan or towards some sort of investment. Make an appointment to speak with a financial advisor at the local branch of your bank to get started. Think of it as putting yourself on the payroll. Aim for at least 6 percent of your income and if you can afford more – terrific!
6. Start Small and Stay Committed
This is certainly the most important tip to get you started. Too often the start of the new year brings a multitude of resolutions, most of which will no longer be on the forefront of anyone’s mind come February. But your financial wellness is too crucial to neglect. So instead of trying to completely overhaul all of your financial habits in one fell swoop, give yourself permission to take it one step at a time. Cut out your daily cappuccino one week, then commit to bringing your lunch from home the next, then put the money you saved into an account. The week after that, keep the ATM card at home everyday. Small changes week after week can add up to big savings in the end. Make a commitment to the tips we’ve covered in this post and last week’s, and throw some other positive financial behaviors into the mix. Six months from now. you’ll be able to look back and commend yourself for setting goals for a successful financial future. And you will already be seeing results before it’s time to start thinking about resolutions for 2015!