Maybe your New Years resolution was to save more. Or maybe you’ve decided to avoid debt in 2021. New Years is a great time to set financial goals for yourself.
But what if your plans don’t go so well to date? What if you failed to cut spending (we can blame the misery of the pandemic for this) and only increased your debt when unforeseen bills did their appearance?
First, don’t beat yourself up. The year is still young, and you have plenty of time to deliver on the resolutions you set for yourself at the end of 2020. If you’re already late, here’s how to tackle a number of common commitments.
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Failed Resolution # 1: Save More Money
It is not easy to save money. If it did, more of us would have more money under our belt. If you’re struggling to save money, sticking to a budget might be your way to turn the tide. Browse your 2020 bank and credit card statements to see how much your various bills are costing. Then list them on a spreadsheet (or use a budgeting app – whichever you prefer). Finally, review these expenses and identify one or two to reduce.
That’s right – you don’t need to cut most of your bills, because that’s probably not sustainable. Instead, pick a few things to focus on. You may find that this is an easier way to build your savings. Once you get used to spending less on these things, you can tackle other categories.
Failed resolution # 2: don’t go into debt
It’s one thing to go into debt when unforeseen expenses arise out of the blue, but it’s another to go into debt just because temptation strikes. To avoid the first, work on building an emergency fund. That way, you’ll have savings to tap into when sudden bills come in that your paychecks won’t be able to cover.
When it comes to temptation, there are things you can do to avoid those unnecessary impulse buying. First of all, don’t store your credit card details on your phone, laptop, or other devices. The simple fact of having to fetch this information and enter it manually for each purchase is in itself a deterrent. Then force yourself to wait 24 hours whenever you are tempted to buy something out of the blue. Most of the time, you will find that you can do without the item in question.
Failed Resolution # 3: Pay Off Existing Debt
Maybe you are sitting on vacation debt or an auto repair bill you incurred last year. If you’re not paying off this debt as quickly as you’d like, see if there’s a better way to get rid of it.
If you owe money on various credit cards, for example, consolidating your debt with a balance transfer or a personal loan might be a good option. Or, if you’re thinking about refinancing your mortgage anyway, a cash refinance could also help you consolidate your debts and pay them off more affordably.
Failed Resolution # 4: Improve Your Credit
If you are hoping to buy a house, rent a new apartment, or buy a new car in the near future, having good credit is important. But if you haven’t done anything to increase your score yet, here are some easy ways to increase that number.
First, check your credit report for errors. You can get a free copy every week by April. Watch out for mistakes, like an overdue debt you’ve already paid or a debt that’s never yours. If you spot one, you’ll know you need to act and fix it.
Then pay all of your incoming bills on time. This simple act could dramatically increase your credit score. Of the various factors used to calculate this number, your payment history carries the most weight.
Finally, try to pay off some existing debt – which may already be one of your goals anyway (see failed resolution # 3). If you lose a credit card balance, it could lower your credit usage rate, and that’s a good thing about your score.
Lots of people make New Years Resolutions every year and give up in February. If you’re worried about doing the same, now is the time to regroup. The right attitude could put you on the right track to tackling these resolutions head-on. Stick to it and you’ll have a lot to be proud of by the end of 2021.