The past year brought more than its share of financial challenges – but 2021 is off to a promising start. Across America, hospitals are receiving COVID-19 vaccines; a new stimulus plan aims to extend support for families; and there’s hope that things can finally get “back to normal.”
What better time to reclaim control of your finances and start the year off right? With some careful planning, you can make good money-management habits a part of your New Year’s resolutions. Here are five tips to get you started:
- Determine your
priorities. Should you start by paying off
debt or building an emergency fund? What about investing in your
business or planning toward long-term goals, like college or
retirement? In the end, the right answer depends on your personal
situation. Take stock of your current income, expenses, debt and
savings, and focus on just two
or three items that need the most attention.
- Be realistic –
and positive. At the start of a new year,
most people are galvanized at the thought of “turning over a new
leaf.” But that motivation may
not last. Instead of setting ambitious goals or harsh
restrictions – which you may struggle to achieve – ask what
small but effective changes you can make over the long term. For
example, reducing your total monthly expenses by $100 can be as
simple as cutting $5 or $10 here and there … and over the course
of a year, you can save more than a thousand dollars.
- Make every dollar
count. Financial security isn’t a number;
it’s the ability to live within your means, in good times and bad.
And the best way to do that is to ask how much of your income is
going towards improving your financial situation – paying off
debt, saving for the future and covering necessary purchases. Look
tips that you can apply to your daily life to save more and
- Take it slow and
steady. The key to consistency? Don’t
worry about messing up. Life can – and will – throw unexpected
challenges your way, but don’t get caught up in frustration when
your plan goes awry. Instead, forgive yourself and keep trying.
Consider reserving a specific time each week to check in with your
budget and try to set weekly or monthly goals instead of cumulative
- Think long-term. Ask yourself why you’re making these changes, and what you hope to accomplish. Are you saving for retirement, home ownership or college tuition? What about next year’s Christmas presents or back-to-school shopping? The most successful New Year’s resolutions focus on personal, positive objectives.
Above all, remember that financial habits don’t happen in an instant. They’re the product of decisions we make every day, and it’s never too late to get started – so take time today to plan for a brighter future.
Axiom Bank, N.A., a nationally chartered community bank headquartered in Central Florida, provides retail banking services, including checking, savings, money market and CD accounts, as well as commercial banking, treasury management services and commercial loans for both real estate and business purposes.