As with any New Year's resolution, it's important to set realistic goals that are within your control to achieve. Setting such unreasonable resolutions as "get out of debt in 30 days" or "get a raise" will only leave you feeling defeated when your goals aren't reached. Instead, make smaller, manageable goals so you can progress through them and move on to the next ones with confidence and motivation.
If you're dealing with frustrating debt, you aren't alone. Though becoming debt-free can take time and hard work, it can be done. As upsetting as it might be, the best place to start is by making a list of who you money to, how much you owe and what the interest rates are. This will help you determine what your total debt is and prioritize what needs to be paid off. Once you've done this, set new goals, such as reducing unnecessary spending and increasing your income if possible, so you can tackle the debt head-on. When it comes to getting out of debt, don't think of it as all or nothing. Continue to set small resolutions so you can make steady improvements bit by bit.
Many people are prone to overspending simply because they don't realize they're overspending. It's natural to see your savings going down and think "oh well, I needed a few extra things this month" or "it'll bounce back when I get my next paycheque." Although these thoughts can make you feel better temporarily, they won't help in the long run. For at least 30 days this year, challenge yourself to come up with a specific budget and to stick to it. If you need a little help keeping track of everything, check out online finance programs such as mint.com. They'll help you keep track of where the money in your bank account is going so you can get a better sense of how to cut back.
In today's world there are a lot of ways you can lose money, but there are also a lot of ways you can save money. So make this the year you turn the tables and do more of the latter than the former. It's all about finding small ways to make your money go further. If you find your food bill has been creeping up, check out some ways to save money at the grocery store. Or if you think you're ready to start investing, talk to a financial advisor about what options are available to you. Bottom line, challenge yourself to learn new ways to save. After all, knowledge is power.
If you tend to lose track of when bill payments are due (resulting in interest fees) or if it frequently slips your mind when money will be coming out of your account and you get slammed with NSF charges, this is the year to change that. For some, attaching a calendar to the fridge with each due date clearly labelled can help them keep track of payments. And to ensure you actually make the payments on time, label a day a week or two in advance of when the payment is due as the day you will attempt to pay up. If that early day comes and you simply can't afford it, then at least it will be in the forefront of your mind so you can remember to take care of it before the official due date passes. Interest fees and NSF charges can add up quickly, so don't let absentmindedness be the reason you pay more than you need to.
Every person, young or old, successful or just starting out, has something worth saving for. Whether that's a new home, your kid's college education or ensuring a happy retirement, we all have goals for our futures that we want to ensure we can achieve. And the sooner you sort out the logistics of how you can make those ideas happen, the sooner those dreams will become reality. Banks such as TD Canada Trust have all sorts of resources at your disposal via the internet. Check out its Education Savings Calculator or Retirement Savings Calculator, for example. They'll give you a rough idea of what you need to start doing now to achieve what you want in the future. Or better yet, set up a meeting with a financial advisor at your bank, and get some one-on-one advice about what steps you can start taking today.
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