Dayia Shurtleff, marketing assistant, Lewiston State Bank
It’s yet again the beginning of a new year. Did you happen to keep those goals you were so eager to start last January? We all know how hard it is to keep New Year’s resolutions; in fact, a study by US News found that 80 percent of all New Year’s resolutions were forgone by the second week in February. Why is it so hard to stick it out? Well, if you are anything like me, it is because you set too many goals, making it nearly impossible to complete them. Making goals to better your financial future is a worthy effort. By focusing on one primary goal, you may be surprised at the impact it has on the other goals you had in mind. Here is a list of four ways you can help create a positive impact on your finances in 2018.
Develop and stick to a detailed budget.
According to Statista, nearly 30 percent of Americans made some type of budgeting goal. Budgeting is harder than many people want to believe. Developing a budget takes time, and there are several ways to approach it. When developing a good budget, you should track all of your expenses and categorize every dollar you earn. This can be done through simple spreadsheets or budgeting tools, like MoneyDesktop by MX®. By creating a detailed budget, you can discover ways to cut back on unnecessary spending and potentially increase how much you are saving.
Make more and spend less.
If having a detailed budget has not worked for you in the past, adopting the method of ‘make more and spend less’ may be a good goal for you. You can increase your income by building a side hobby into a business, taking on a part-time job in your free hours, or starting some type of freelance work. If more work is not realistic, you can try to minimize spending. Spending less money is not always fun, so we suggest making a game out of it. You can host coupon contests between friends and family to see who can get the best deals, compete with your significant other to see who can spend the least in a week, and find cheaper ways to entertain yourself. By increasing the dollars in your account, you will be better able to accomplish your financial goals.
Build your savings.
If you are someone who wants to be more financially fit, but never seem to have time for either of the previous goals, a good first step could simply be to work on building your savings. Try opening a new savings account for 2018 — one that you will keep separate so there is less temptation to “dip” into it when you are thinking of making a frivolous purchase. Set up a direct deposit from your primary account to transfer a sum into this savings account each paycheck. This will help you to save without having to think about it. You may also look into holding the funds at another financial institution if better rates for savings accounts are available. This will create another step for you to reach the funds when temptation arises, but will not cause you to suffer penalties in an emergency like many long-term savings accounts, such as CDs or 401(k)s.
Invest in a financial adviser.
If you struggle to make any new financial goals work with your lifestyle, it might be wise to look for a professional financial adviser, or implement a money-managing app to help you make better financial decisions. Many financial institutions offer free consultation services, or have contacts to financial advisers who offer courses or consulting on an individual basis.