With the start of a new year, it is time to consider how well your personal finance plan worked in 2016. Has your spending and saving behavior improved since January 1, 2016? Is your financial situation better than it was this time last year? While we all know that many situations are outside of our control, there are still things we can control. One of those areas is our behavior. Looking back on 2016, would you honestly say that your mindset for personal finance has matured? If your personal financial situation looks much like it did one year ago then it is time to put your personal finances on the right track.
Pull up your bank statements from the past 12 months and determine whether or not your checking and savings balances have increased. Hopefully, your savings account has increased in value along with your 401k balance and other investments. Consider whether or not you can increase your savings percentage to continue building your savings balance for emergencies and necessities. Now don’t get depressed if your balances did not increase but your debt decreased. If you were diligently working to pay off debt, then there is a good reason for simply maintaining your checking and savings balances. Keep the $1,000 emergency fund in place if at all possible even while tackling the debt.
The next step I would suggest for the New Year is to reassess your past financial goals and make any necessary adjustments. Set short-term goals that you plan to reach within the next 12 months. Consider any goals from 1 – 3 years in length and create a plan to reach them. Long-term goals would usually include retirement, college tuition for children if they are young, purchasing a home, etc. Break each goal down and develop realistic steps to help you attain the goal. In order to gauge how successful you have been, check to make sure you are still making strides at least every 3 months. If you are not progressing as you wish, make the adjustments to keep you on path to obtaining the goal. Even if you have to take a month or so off from working on our goal because of an unexpected event, get back on track as soon as possible.
Finally, look for ways to improve your financial situation. If you are not satisfied with where you are in your career, make improvements that will help you advance. A good book to read to help in the career area is “48 Days To The Work You Love” by Dan Miller. At the end of his book, Mr. Miller gives valuable information to help you create a great resume’, cover letter, mission statement, etc. I used the information from “48 Days” to help me reach my current career goal.
Make 2017 a great year both personally, financially, and in your career. There is no better time to begin improving than today! Make it a priority and get to work making positive changes in your life! Stay on the right track for personal growth and financial stability!