A quick google search proves how many people want to change their financial situation going into the New Year. A list from the United States government contains 13 of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions. According to Forbes, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s change that terrible statistic in 2015! I’m here to help by providing some tips using a few of the resolutions contained in the government’s list.
Save Money– Make it automatic! Military Saves often reminds servicemembers that saving money can be easier by making it automatic. Have a portion of your military paycheck put into a savings account using myPay. If you plan to save money specifically for retirement, you might want to review the investment fund options in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). No matter what you intend on saving for, it is important you will feel comfortable with the amount you choose to set aside.
Manage Stress– You can reduce stress by creating a budget. By figuring out how your family is currently spending and where you may be able to cut back, it can free up money to pay bills or add to an emergency fund. If you need to talk about your stresses, please contact a Military and Family Life Counselor at your installation or visit Military OneSource.
Manage Debt– Choose to start with your highest interest rate debt or your lowest monthly payment debt. Each time you pay off a loan or credit card, allocate the money from the minimum payment plus any additional payment you were making to the next debt you intend on tackling. This method is known as the snowball effect. Use your credit card only for items you are able to pay off when your monthly statement arrives.
Take a Trip– Decide when you are taking your vacation and how much money you need for the entire trip. Include travel expenses to reach your destination, food costs, souvenirs, rooming accommodations, and any events or sights you plan on visiting during your trip. Decide how much you are going to save per paycheck to afford your vacation without borrowing money or using credit cards.
The first step to achieving your New Year’s Resolution is to transform it into a SMART goal. Your goals should be specific; use an exact number for finances. Make them measurable; when you are specific by using an exact dollar amount then you are able to see where you are in progress versus your end goal. Make sure they’re attainable; set your plan step by step on how you are going to get the results you want. Be realistic; set your goal as a stretch but not something that sets you up for failure. Your goal needs to be time-bound; set an exact timeframe in which you will complete your goal.
Now that you’ve created your SMART goals, write them down. Dr. David Hamilton suggests that writing your goals down helps you stay focused on achieving what you’ve set out to do. He also suggests telling a supportive friend about your goal and the plan you created to reach your goal. A research study compares groups of people within different portions of goal setting. The group that wrote down their goals, reflected on the importance of achieving the goal, wrote down their action plan, shared their plans with a supportive friend, and shared their progress with their friend was 78% more likely to reach their goal than those who only thought about the goal and its importance.
If you need assistance on creating a plan to reach your Financial New Year’s Resolution, you can visit the Personal Financial Manager or Financial Counselor for free in your installation’s Readiness Center. You can find their contact information by visiting http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil/ and selecting your current duty station. You may also receive Financial Counseling for free from Military OneSource.
By Meghan Northcutt, AFC ® Candidate
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