Saving Money

Check in on your financial New Year’s resolutions

Woman wearing green sweater sitting on floor reviewing papers

It may be hard to believe, but we’re already halfway through 2023, and there’s no better time to review your financial New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all been there—around six months into the calendar year, coming to the realization that we’ve fallen behind on those resolutions we made back in January.

But instead of feeling defeated, now is the perfect time to reset. There’s something restorative about summer that makes this the perfect time to check in with yourself. Along with sunshine and longer days comes excitement and brighter moods, making us more inclined to be active—physically or mentally. So, take advantage of that feeling by reviewing these financial resolutions, and the updates you can make to help you jump into your new mindset.

Organize your finances

If you haven’t started towards your financial goals yet, the best place to start is understanding your spending. Start by tracking all your spending for one week, including bills paid and any shopping trips. Use your smartphone, an app like Mint, or a small notebook to track all expenditures made with cash, check or credit card. As you organize your expenses, ask yourself how important these purchases are and what is driving your decision. What do you need and what can you do without?

This step may be time consuming, but it is key your financial success. Knowing how much money you have, where it’s going, and what value it brings will be the basis for almost every other financial decision you make this year.

Create and stick to a budget

If you’re already organized and sticking to a budget, this is a good time to check in. Start by reviewing the last few months of expenses to see if there are categories you want to adjust. Talk with your insurance agent to make sure you have enough—or if you have too much—home or car insurance. Can you find a more reasonable internet/phone provider? Can you mow your own lawn? Is your Amazon Prime membership worth the annual cost? You may find you’re allocating more money than needed, freeing up some funds.

While you’re organizing finances or reviewing your budget, be sure to look closely for impulse purchases. Impulse buying is an all-too-easy way to put a major dent in your budget—especially with thousands of items available online at our fingertips. Next time you find yourself impulsively adding items to your online shopping cart, wait 72 hours. If you find yourself still fawning over that new top or latest electronic after 72 hours has passed, then you can treat yourself (if you have room in your budget, of course).

Build your emergency fund

Additionally, now’s a good time to audit your emergency fund. You may not need to use it any time soon, but it’ll save your financial life if you do. If you’ve been slacking on this goal, you may consider signing up for an automatic savings program, like Digit or Qapital. This allows you to painlessly put money aside for a rainy day.

Crushing your goal and ready to kick things up a notch? Open a Money Market account or high-yield savings account to get more bang for your buck.

Pay down debt

Life is expensive—you need certain things and everyone has it, so some amount of debt is fine. Debt can be used for good (like when you need a mortgage), but it can also spiral out of control. Since we are at the halfway point, now is a great time to review your progress on paying down your debt.

Revolving debt that continues month after month after month can be detrimental to your financial health and could hinder any financial progress, whether it’s your emergency savings, investments, mortgage, retirement, or even saving for a vacation. Be sure that you’ve been paying it down monthly and that your accounts reflect those payments. While it may not be gone by the end of the year, you’ll likely have made a significant dent.

Start over

If you feel like you’re not making any progress towards your financial resolutions, ask yourself why you made them in the first place. One of the most important parts of creating a resolution is the reasoning behind it. Maybe your goals were planned with a partner that is no longer in the picture, or maybe your priorities have just changed. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t made as much progress as you hoped—instead, take time to review your current resolutions and set some new goals for the rest of your year.

Ask yourself what might be impeding your progress. Would you benefit from having an accountability partner, or rewarding yourself with a little treat? Maybe it would be easier to break down your resolution down into smaller steps. Understanding any issues can help you reorganize your resolutions in a way that feels more achievable to you.

Overall, the point of this exercise is to make sure you are aligned with your goals. It’s OK if you need to create a new plan to ensure you start working towards those resolutions now.

Key takeaways:

  • It’s never too late to make a financial resolution. In fact, reviewing and updating your goals throughout the year is key to ensuring reasonable expectations.
  • If you haven’t started towards your financial goals yet, organizing your finances is the best place to start.
  • Examine your budget and adjust as needed. Now is a good time to check on your emergency funds and debt, as well.
  • If you feel like you’re not making moves towards your financial resolutions, it’s okay to start over with new goals.

Resolutions aren’t easy to keep but making the commitment to getting your finances in order is worth the effort. That’s why we encourage you to revisit your resolutions now, so on January 1st you can look back and celebrate the great accomplishments you’ve already made.

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