It’s January. Everyone is making or has already made at least one New Year’s resolution. For many people, resolutions are centered around their personal health. Why not make a resolution centered around your personal financial health? Of course, financial independence is not a goal that can be achieved in a single year (unless, of course, you hit the Mega Millions jackpot). However, you can resolve to take some very deliberate steps that will get you on your way to achieving financial independence. Let’s look at some simple steps that can be taken by anyone at any age.

Get a Visionvision

What is your goal – financial independence? Purchasing a home or vehicle? Increasing your savings? The first step to achieving any goal is defining what that goal is. The narrower you can make your goal, the more likely you will be able to achieve it. For example, instead of setting a goal of “saving money”, be a little more specific. Based on your monthly income, decide on a realistic amount to actually save each month.  In order to determine this, you may need to devise a budget (if you haven’t already). If you don’t already have a budget in place, check out some of my previous blogs about budgeting tips and tricks. Write your goal down somewhere where you will see it EVERY DAY – your fridge, your bulletin board at your desk, anywhere you will see it every day, multiple times a day. Decide how you plan to save – savings account, retirement account, investment funds, etc. By clarifying your financial goal, you will eliminate frustration and increase your chances of actually sticking with your resolution past January.

Enforce Your Vision

Don’t just envision your goal, plan it out and DO IT! You’ve already done all of the leg work in your “getting a vision” phase. Here is where the rubber meets the road. Carry out that vision. In our example, you’ve got your budget and amount you wanted to save- now save it! Commit to “paying yourself first” when your paycheck arrives. This will make actually saving the money a lot easier. If you take out the amount to save first, you won’t be tempted to spend it on something else later. During your brainstorming session, you decided how you wanted to save your money. Take the money from your paycheck and deposit it directly into the account you’ve chosen. If you opted for an IRA through your work, you can automatically have that money deducted before you even get your paycheck. By opting for this, you could even save some tax dollars! Check out my blogs on traditional and Roth IRAs  to learn more!

checklistStick to It!

It’s pretty easy to stick to resolutions right about now. It’s only the second week in January, so most of us are determined and driven to stick to our resolutions. But like I said, it’s only the second week in January. We still have about 50 ½ weeks remaining in the year. Your enthusiasm will fade. Trust me. Whether you’ve vowed to save money, or set some other financial (or non-financial goal), stick to it! When things get tough, look back at why you started. Remember WHY you set that goal. It may be difficult, but at the end of 2018 when you look at what you’ve accomplished, you’ll be thankful you stuck with it.

Stay Accountable

As people, we tend to “cheat” unless we have someone keeping us accountable. All of us have been on a diet and thought to ourselves, “one cookie won’t hurt anything”. The same is true with any goal, whether financial or not:  in order to achieve it, you need to stick to it – NO CHEATING! Accountability is key. Find someone you can trust who will help to keep you accountable. It can be a spouse, a family member, or a friend. Tell them what your goal is and how you plan to achieve it. Ask them to keep you accountable and make sure you stay on track.

Of course, these steps are many times easier said than done. We all have goals we want to achieve, but sometimes struggle with following through. If you get off track with your resolution, don’t give up! Just get back on the right path. Changing bad habits is never easy, it’s going to take time and practice. Just keep at it! Come December of 2018, you’ll look back over the year and feel a sense of accomplishment at all you were able to achieve! If you need some help in devising a plan to achieve the financial goals you’ve set for 2018, give our office a call! One of our team members can sit down with you and help you establish the steps you need to take to make that goal a reality!

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