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5 money New Year’s resolutions for 2024 you can keep

Ring in the New Year right with these handy hints.

Some years, you might feel inspired and set New Year’s resolutions to improve your finances; others, it just doesn’t happen. Whether you call it a resolution, objective or goal, improving your money habits starts with defining what you genuinely want.

Use these five tips to take stock of your financial life, know what you want to achieve and bridge the gap between the two by setting resolutions you’re sure to keep.

1. Set one money objective.

Most people want or need to achieve many financial goals. But simplifying your New Year’s resolution to just one objective, such as a single word or phrase, can narrow your focus and improve your chances of success.

Your one objective could stand constant for your entire life or be a “word of the year” that captures your current financial aspiration and gets re-evaluated next year. The idea is to identify what’s essential for your success and double down on it.

If you’re unsure what your one objective should be, go back to your net worth statement for guidance. For instance, it will probably be clear that you need to save more or cut expensive debt.

You might choose an objective like retiring, owing money to no one, starting a small business or anything that supports your genuine financial dreams. There isn’t a right or wrong money objective to set.

Another way to narrow your primary money objective is to consider what’s causing financial stress. According to Finder’s Consumer Confidence Index, 79% of Americans feel stressed about money, with 31% having worse household finances than a year ago. An objective like downsizing your home, changing careers or adding an income stream could relieve financial pressure.

Graphic source

Once you identify your one money objective, use it to guide your financial decisions. For instance, if you’re considering starting a side business or returning to school, consider whether it would move you closer to or further from your primary financial objective.

2. Know your net worth.

Knowing your net worth before setting New Year’s money resolutions is essential because it reveals your financial strengths and weaknesses. Calculating your net worth is like stepping on the scale before setting a health and weight goal. It’s impossible to know if you’re progressing and hitting your target if you don’t have a starting point.

Figuring out your net worth isn’t difficult but requires gathering and recording information on paper, a computer document or a spreadsheet. First, list what you own that has value: your assets. They may include real estate, cars, jewelry, taxable investments, retirement accounts and cash in the bank. Then, assign estimated market values to each asset category and add the total.

Below your assets, list what you owe: your liabilities. For instance, you might have mortgages, student loans and credit card balances. Then, add up your total debts. When you subtract your total liabilities from your assets, your net worth is the resulting positive or negative number.

Figuring out your net worth each year is crucial because it should help determine your money goals. If your net worth increases yearly, you’re getting wealthier with higher assets, lower liabilities or both.

Even going from a negative net worth to a small positive one shows your financial wellness is improving. But if it’s flat or declining, focusing on building wealth should be your top financial priority.

3. Create motivation triggers.

Sometimes, staying motivated to improve your finances requires reminding yourself what you want to accomplish. You might place strategic cues in your home, office and car that regularly get your attention and foster good money habits.

For instance, you could write your money objective on an index card or sticky notes for your wallet and credit cards. That way, you’ll be forced to see it before making an unplanned purchase or veering off your spending plan.

Another strategy is writing a journal entry every morning about why your one money objective is essential. Include what you’ll do today to accomplish it and what it means for your and your family’s future success.

4. Strengthen your safety nets.

Since life is full of financial surprises, consider a resolution to evaluate and boost your emergency savings. Having a cash cushion helps you reduce stress, navigate unexpected hardship and avoid getting into debt.

Commit to regularly putting away a set amount, such as $100 a month or $50 a week in a high-interest savings. Even a small emergency fund is better than nothing and can be your most valuable safety net.

One tip is to automate your emergency savings with a separate direct deposit set up by your employer. If you’re self-employed, you can create a recurring transfer from your checking to savings monthly or weekly.

If money is tight, try working overtime, getting a second job or starting a side business to reach a target, such as accumulating $1,000 or $5,000. Building a cash cushion equal to three to six months’ worth of your living expenses is one of the best money resolutions you can have.

5. Estimate your retirement needs.

An essential factor in how much you should accumulate for retirement depends on when you begin, even if you don’t have much to invest. Getting an early start allows your money to compound and grow exponentially over time.

For example, if you invest $450 a month with an average annual 7% return for 40 years, you’ll have nearly $1.2 million. But if you only have 20 years to invest the same amount for the same return, you’d only have $235,000.

So, don’t delay making investing for retirement a top money resolution. It’s a huge mistake to believe you can’t afford it or will catch up later. You’re never too young to begin planning for your future and investing for retirement.

You can enter your information into a retirement calculator to understand what affects your financial future and how much you should be regularly saving.

Get help sticking to New Year’s money resolutions

Consider creating financial resolutions for the coming year together if you have a spouse or partner. If you’re single, you might discuss them with a close friend or family member over dinner, during a walk or on a long drive somewhere. Or you might get help from a certified financial planner (CFP) or retirement advisor.

Getting financial clarity, creating eye-catching reminders and enlisting support from like-minded people for achieving your New Year’s money resolutions are the best ways to keep them.

About the Author

Laura Adams is a money expert and spokesperson for Finder. She’s one of the nation’s leading personal finance and business authorities. As an award-winning author and host of the top-rated Money Girl podcast since 2008, millions of readers, listeners and loyal fans benefit from her practical advice. Laura is a trusted source for media and has been featured on most major news outlets, including ABC, Bloomberg, CBS, Consumer Reports, Forbes, Fortune, FOX, Money, MSN, NBC, NPR, NY Times, USA Today, US News, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and more. She received an MBA from the University of Florida and lives in Vero Beach, Florida. Her mission is to empower consumers to live healthy and rich lives by making the most of what they have, planning for the future and making smart money decisions every day.

This article originally appeared on Finder.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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