Every year we make promises to ourselves: to lose weight, quit a bad habit, get out of debt and save more. Does it work? Usually not, and we end up making the same jaded promises every year and buying more expensive gym equipment that later be used as a clothing rack.
Many of us seek consultants, coaches, and gurus to help us work through our challenges.
But at the end of the day, it all comes down to your actions and following up on plans. If you are hoping that good intentions and good thoughts will bring about financial change, well, I look forward to seeing you next year in the same place and time and with the same resolutions.
For those of you who really are committed to change the old behaviors that have prevented you from getting the things you want, this message is for you. Take time this year take to discover what it is that you truly value.
â€˘Do you value good credit to buy the things you want and qualify for financing you need?
â€˘Do you value freedom to be debt free so you can start building wealth for yourself and future generations?
â€˘Do you value homeownership, to live where you want and build equity that will improve your financial standing?
â€˘Do you value the finer things in life and want to build wealth to enjoy these things and not have to worry incurring debt?
Knowing what you value is key to achieving financial security and freedom. I used to be a staunch â€śresolutionist.â€ť Then I learned: If we donâ€™t value it, we wonâ€™t care for it. That speaks to our flabby bellies, poor credit and anemic bank accounts. If we feel that we can just keep on going with the flow, we will find ourselves in the same places we were last year-- in debt, out of shape and not building wealth.
The key to building wealth and reaching your financial goals is to spend less of your earned income and save and invest the difference. Sounds easy, but itâ€™s easier said than done. Hereâ€™s an easy guide to help you reach our personal finance goals in four easy steps.
1.) Reduce Debt by Tracking Spending: Good cash management practices involve knowing exactly where, when and how your money is being spent. Create a spending tracker and record spending for the next 30 days. Keep in mind the more you save is the more you earn. For example, if you pay off a credit card that charges 18%, make that payment to yourself since youâ€™re used to making the payment anyway. Not only have you added to your savings, youâ€™re earning 18%!
2.) Establish Financial Goals: The next step in reaching your financial goals is to separate them into three time horizons: short-term goals (achievable within the next 12 months), intermediate goals (occurs within 2-5 years), and long-term goals (within 5-10 years).
Buying a car or planning a vacation is short-term, paying for college or buying a home might be an intermediate goal and retirement, buying a second home, or acquiring a new business fall into the long-term goal category. No matter where your goal falls, making the plan is critical.
3.) Use Available Resources: Consider which places and actions will allow you to reach your identified financial goals. For short-term goals, check out banks and credit unions for interest-bearing checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, and U.S. Savings Bonds. By making savings automatic, you can quickly save and pay off consumer debt simultaneously.
4.) Consult Your Financial Professional: Get an expert on your side. Contact a financial professional to discuss your intermediate and long-term goals, and how mutual funds, bonds, precious metals, or tax deferred investments could work for you. You should continue paying off consumer debt, home mortgage and student loans while striving for the intermediate goals.
By using these four strategies in 2011, you may find that your resolve will be rewarded- and it can really be a NEW Year!
Family Finance Expert, Princess Clark-Wendel, holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and is the author of A Pocketbook of Hope in Tough Economic Times. Ms Clark-Wendel is an international business consultant and financial advisor who has held management roles in two Fortune 100 companies. Visit Princess at www.livelifeworryfree.com