Isn’t it amazing how fast we have sped through 2012? It seems like just yesterday we were making optimistic declarations about our plans for the new year. Now, there are only 60 days left until this eventful year becomes history. Looking back on the past 10 months, would you say you have accomplished your goals?
Many of our wishful resolutions are destined to remain unfulfilled. If we took the time at the beginning of the year to assess our needs, think about viable solutions to our problems, and write down firm declarations to better our lives, why have over 300 days gone by without us taking action? Why did we let distractions and discouragements keep us from our achievements?
The answer to this age-old problem will vary, as persons may have different issues that affect their levels of motivation. Despite the situations that may have held you back in the past, you can still make an effort to work on some of your unfinished targets. You can make the rest of the year really count by tackling one or two of your incomplete objectives.
Let’s look at some financial priorities that may have been included in your 2012 action plan, but have yet to be undertaken.
Resolution 1: Track your spending
Creating a budget was high on your to-do list, as you were tired of being uncertain about how and where you spent your money. You actually got a hold of a budget form, but after seeing all the expense categories to be filled in, you gave up. Today, your spending is still out of control and you’re frustrated at your lack of discipline with money.
Budgeting can be difficult for several reasons. First, it forces you to confront your spending habits and face the truth about what you’re really doing with your money. A budget can be challenging if you are not sure about how much money you really spend in each area. It can also be discouraging when you recognise that your expenses are greater than your income.
If you really want to manage your money effectively, you just have to bite the bullet and do your budget. Download a form at www.financiallysmart.org, follow the instructions to itemise your bills, and then take a hard look at what your budget reveals. If you’re spending more than you earn, then trim your expenses or consider ways in which you can earn more money.
Resolution 2: Save for emergencies
Your perennially empty savings account was targeted for improvement this year. You were scared that you would be financially incapable of handling any emergency that might occur. However, some unplanned expenses, along with a bout of depression which required retail therapy, resulted in you raiding the small rainy day fund that you had started to build.
Saving is a habit that requires extreme levels of discipline. To be successful, you first need to create a detailed budget that will allow you to prioritise on your spending, and see if you really are making enough money to put some aside without touching it. You will find it hard to save for emergencies if all your income is needed to pay basic bills.
If insufficient income prevents you from saving, the only solution is to earn more. You can find dozens of earning ideas at www.financiallysmartadvice.com. If your efforts are being sabotaged by undisciplined spending, use automatic deductions to transfer your money into a hard-to-reach savings account. Try to save at least three months’ worth of expenses in your rainy day fund.
Resolution 3: Reduce your debt
Distressed at the amount of money you have been paying in credit card interest charges, you determined that this was the year to get out of debt. You got a debt consolidation loan and paid off your cards. Instead of decreasing your debt, however, you actually had to take out payroll loans on several occasions to meet your bills, and your credit card balance is once again rising.
Dealing with debt is a challenging financial issue for many persons. You cannot solve a debt problem without first ascertaining its root cause. Are you constantly borrowing to plug a budget deficit? Are you paying for your compulsive spending habit with debt? Did you borrow to purchase a possession that you really can’t afford?
Your budget will indicate if your debt problems are due to insufficient income or frivolous splurging; use the methods previously discussed to deal with these issues. If a car loan or mortgage has decreased your ability to pay other bills without further borrowing, you may have to increase your earnings to cover your deficit or consider selling the problematic possession.
As you review the action items in your 2012 resolution list, think of all the reasons you may not have been successful in completing your tasks. Refocus on why these things were important to you in the first place, resolve to stop procrastinating on your plans, and recommit your efforts to accomplish some major objectives before this year is over.
Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book, The 3 Ms of Money will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Read more on money and business matters at www.financiallysmartadvice.com and www.entrepreneursinjamaica.com. Email comments to email@example.com.