Are you making a New Year’s Resolution? It’s the end of the year and the decade, and now is a good time as any to make some changes in your life. Of course, it is always a good time to change yourself and affect change in your life, but there are certain times of the year that seem to lend themselves to self-improvement. If you are interested in how New Year’s Resolutions started- it started with the ancient Babylonians. So this is an ancient, time-honored tradition.
After the holiday season filled with spending and excess, it is a great time to sit down and make some changes to your financial life.
The 1 Money- Related New Year’s Resolution You Should be Making: Make a Budget
Yes- I am yelling. The absolute #1 thing that you have to do this year is making a budget. That’s right- a BUDGET. You need one. You need one written down. Not only that- but it needs to be a budget that WORKS. A budget only deals with the money you actually have and not the money you think you have or the money you wish you have. It sounds simple.
You would be surprised at how hard it is to do this if you haven’t done this already. This is something that you need to do NOW. This should be the top priority. Of course, part of making a budget is actually sticking to it but believe it or not, that is usually the easy part if you made the budget correctly in the first place. Don’t believe me? Try it and let me know! Make a budget and see!
You need this budget even if you are not making ends meet and your expenses outweigh your income.
One HUGE part of this budget MUST be savings. You should be saving for emergencies, expected events coming up (i.e., sinking funds), and the future.
You need an emergency fund. I discuss in detail the why’s, where’s, and wherefore’s of emergency funds here, so I won’t bore you with a repeat. But I just read a quote that seemed perfect for this: Noach (Noah) built his ark before it started raining. You may not think you need an emergency fund, but you do.
Expected Events Fund (i.e., sinking funds).
These are funds that you know you will need in the next few months or beyond. For example, Passover is coming up in approximately 4 months. Now is a perfect time to start saving for that. Are you possibly anticipating a car repair at any point? A house repair? An insurance bill? These are all “envelopes” that need to be filled and soon. Your budget needs to take these things into account.
The big, scary future is coming at one point (hopefully), and you will need money to live on. So even if you can’t put a lot into a retirement fund- try to put away at least $5 a month into a retirement account to get your future started.
I personally use a Modern Envelope Budgeting System which is a twist on the traditional envelope system, and it works for me. Many other budgeting systems work, and you can pick anyone you want but make sure that you can actually follow something that you can actually follow. Don’t make it over complicated.
Don’t start writing down every penny you spend or promise yourself that you won’t spend any money. That doesn’t work, and it certainly doesn’t last. Instead, create a realistic budget, and that makes sense.
But I already have a budget!
Great! Awesome! Even if you are like me and have a particular budget that you follow every month, it’s a good idea to revisit your budget, savings allocations, and new needs. After all, life happens, and things change. Now is a great time to look at your budget and reevaluate if it is still working. Are there new sinking funds you need to start? Are you able to raise your savings or your charitable giving? Now is the time to make this happen.
Let’s do this! Happy New Year! 2020 should be a year filled with joy, peace, and serenity for all of you.