Most of us kick off the New Year with intentions of improving the management of our finances.Â Here are some actionable steps to take to move your finances forward in 2014.
This is the most important step.Â If we can visualize ourselves successfully achieving our goals, we are more likely to take action to make them happen.Â What would financial success look like for you a year from now?Â Would it mean that your cash or investment balances have reached a certain figure? Or, would it mean that you had sufficient insurance to protect your family? That you were able to not increase your debt? Or that you had more confidence about your financial knowledge?Â Write down your goals and discuss them with someone close to you to ensure that you are made accountable.
1. Pay down your debt
Debt payments, particularly credit cards, increases the overall cost of your purchase over time and rates are often much higher than the rates of return on investments.Â Paying off a credit card with 18% interest is like getting a return of 18% on your money. Eliminate all sources of bad debt (credit card, auto) and work to reduce other debt (home and student loans) so funds can be freed up for retirement investing.
Always consider working with vendors to see if there is a better deal they can provide.Â Consider annually asking your phone, cable, utility provider, etc for a better rate.
1. Streamline Your Life
Start by “de-cluttering” your house. Pay special attention to old, unused, or broken appliances, furniture or kitchen items.
First, pick one room at a time and first ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I used this item recently?
- Do I use this item frequently?
- Does this item help save me time or money?
- Does this item help me achieve my goals?
- Does this item make me happy?
- Do I really need to own this or could I rent/ borrow it as an alternative?
If you answer no to one or more of the above questions, consider selling the item on ebay.com, having a garage sale, donating to a charity, or giving it to a family member of friend.
Second, now that you have de-cluttered, try to adopt an attitude of â€śless is more.â€ť Buy less clothing, but focus on classic, timeless high quality pieces in solid colors. Keep your toiletries and grooming items to a minimum to reduce clutter in bathroom and medicine closets. You get the picture. Simple routines will save you time and money in the long run.
2. Improve Your Financial IQ
It is never too late to learn more about personal finances. You can dramatically enhance your understanding of finance and investments by committing just a few minutes each day to the following:
- Read the Wall Street Journal, Money magazine or Kiplingerâ€™s Personal Finance magazine.
- Google any financial topics you donâ€™t understand to learn more.
1. Give your kids an allowance
But establish guidelines of what it can be spent on.
2. Set limits on what you buy for them and what they buy for themselves
Modify this list as they get older.
1. Get married and Stay married
Divorce is emotionally draining, but it also severely drains a couple’s finances. Increasingly many woman are paying alimony.
2. Stay educated
Women need to think about their human capital as well as their financial capital. Keeping your skills up to date can provide job security and improve your chance for promotion.Â If you are currently not in the workforce, keep your skills as fresh as possible by continued involvement in your professional associations and continuing education.