Financial goals don’t have to break the bank (literally), but sometimes it’s difficult to lay out specific plans to achieve them. Use these six tips in 2021 to help you with goals you’ve already made, set new ones, or even just create better habits.
Plan Ahead of Time
Let’s say you’d like to take a trip soon. To kick-start the planning process, will you save funds in a separate savings account or do you think you’ll be able to allocate all that money at once? These two, while having the same end goal of going on vacation, have varying levels of stress involved.
Last-minute money allocation is strenuous and puts you in a tight spot, as opposed to each month setting money aside in order to have a stress- and worry-free trip. This is only one example and can be translated to anything in life that you wish to plan for. Save up over time, rather than stressing at the last minute.
Have an Emergency Fund
If you don’t have one already, take time this year to set aside money for emergencies. Experts agree that emergency funds should at least cover three to six months of living expenses, but $1,000 is a good amount to set as your first goal. While it may seem like a lot of money, break the savings down over the course of weeks or months. It’ll grow faster than you think and can be the start of a healthy savings habit for you as well.
Pay Off a Credit Card or Bill
It’s an overwhelming feeling when you have multiple credit cards and are scrambling with due dates and amounts. Use 2021 to commit to paying off one credit card fully and/or medical bill if you have it. This will be a huge relief on your finances and it’ll get the ball rolling on how good it feels to pay off debt.
The B word that you see everywhere! People swear by it for their financial success and using it to go down the road to financial freedom. Yes, budgeting is all of that and more, but it starts with an uncomfortable, in-depth look at where you spend your money, what bills you have, and what’s left at the end of every month. Use our Life Guidance articles and worksheets and our calculators to get started.
Do More Financial Research
Take your financial goals a step further and talk to someone who can give you an unbiased look at your finances. A+FCU offers free counseling through BALANCE, a financial wellness partner program, and they can help you with spending, budgeting, debt repayment options, and more. All their services are targeted towards helping you become financially stable.
If you’re feeling even more motivated, read a personal finance book for a deeper look into your finances.
Try a Spending Fast
A spending fast is when you stop spending money on nonessential things, experiences, or items for an extended period of time. The new year is a great time to reevaluate your spending and save some extra money for your savings account or emergency fund.
If you find yourself purchasing random things here and there or you want to break a shopping habit, implementing a spending fast – even just for a few weeks – will really open your eyes to how much those non-essentials have been costing you. This time allows you to explore the free options that are offered to you, like spending time with family or going hiking. If you’re hesitant about the length of the fast, try doing it in February, since the month is a little shorter.
If this sounds like a lot, keep in mind that these actions take a small amount of time and the benefits you reap from them are forever. Being conscious about your money’s whereabouts allows you to budget for the fun stuff or create a plan for a trip without worrying about how you’ll get that money. You’ll have a great overview of your finances and can budget accordingly for the rest of the year.