*The following is an article that I wrote in partnership with Digital Federal Credit Union, DCU*
As we prepare for a brand new year, it’s the perfect time to get focused and committed to your financial goals. Not only is it great to reflect on your money wins and lessons learned from the current year as it comes to an end but it’s the perfect opportunity to set and commit to your financial goals in the new year ahead.
Here are a just a few things you can do to improve your finances and keep yourself motivated to stick to your goals throughout the new year.
1. Set a specific financial goal that you can measure
Set a financial goal that you’d like to achieve in the new year and make it something measurable. Make your goal S.M.A.R.T (Specific , Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Timely) so that you can have more clarity on what it is you’re trying to achieve. When you make your goal specific, it allows you to measure your progress and keeps you more motivated.
For example, if you have a goal to pay off debt, get specific about your goal and make it S.M.A.R.T. Set how much you want to pay off and by when. A non-specific goal would be “I want to pay off debt” A more specific goal would be “I want to pay off $2,000 worth of credit card debt by 12/31/2021”
2. Invest the time to learn about a topic/subject that will help you reach your goals
Take the time to learn about a specific topic or subject matter that can help you with a goal that you’ve set for the upcoming year. Take advantage of any resources that you may have available to you. For example, credit unions like DCU offer free online education for their members on money topics including saving, building credit, budgeting and much more.
3. Start and stick to to a budget
In order to be able to reach your targeted goals, you’ll need to get a better handle on the money that flows in and out of your household. When you understand your cash flow, you can make more informed decisions on how best to spend, save and pay off debt. A budget allows you to keep track of your spending and give every dollar a job. The beginning of the year is the best time to commit to starting and continuing your budgeting practice. Decide on a budgeting tool you’d like to try out and set some time aside on your calendar to set and reconcile your budget on a weekly and monthly basis.
4. Re-evaluate your bank & banking tools
Re-evaluate your current bank and their banking tools. Make sure that your current banking system is appropriate for the goals you want to accomplish. Does your current bank provide you with the service and support that you need to reach your financial goals? Does your bank’s mission align with your mission? If not, look into alternative banking solutions or your local credit union for more options and customized care.
As we begin the new year, it’s important to take the time to set your financial goals. Commit to doing your best but give yourself grace. While it’s great to set goals and hold yourself accountable, it’s important to recognize that there are many things outside of our control that will impact our progress. Give yourself grace and be flexible. It’s ok to pivot and change your goals as necessary.