2015 is gone, and 2016 is here—which means there’s no better time to whip your finances into shape. When it comes to getting financially fit, the first step you must take is recognizing there is a problem. To determine if you need to make a change to your financial habits, ask yourself these three questions:
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be a sign that you need to change up your financial routine. Keep reading to learn the top five steps you must take in 2016 to help you revamp your finances and feel financially stable as you move into the New Year.
Establish a financial fitness routine
It’s time to build up your budgeting muscles. Like any good workout regimen, you must develop a manageable routine. Building a budget from scratch may seem overwhelming, but there are a ton of great tools and apps to help you ease into the budgeting process. Here are a few budgeting tools we recommend:
Mint: An app that allows you to effortlessly manage your spending, including bill reminders and daily alerts on your budgeting status.
Spending tracker: An app that helps you track your spending and stick to your budget.
Wally: An app that lets you take control of your money, balance your income and expenses and show you exactly where your money is going with fun visuals.
“Regardless of how you decide to build a budget, the important thing is it that you stick to it,” explains Two Rivers Bank & Trust Mt. Pleasant Market President Dave George. “Personally, I like to build my budget on a simple spreadsheet, others prefer to use mobile apps. However you like to keep your budget in check, just make sure you’re sticking to it.”
Once you’ve built a budget, take a closer look at your list of expenses to determine which expenses you can cut. The more unnecessary expenses you can get rid of, the better—and the lighter your financial load will feel.
Identify your workout buddies
To keep yourself on a strong financial path, surround yourself with budget-savvy individuals. Who is going to hold you accountable for staying financially on track? Make sure to keep those individuals close. You can even make your budget goals into a friendly competition between you and your friends. Just like having workout buddies to keep you motivated in the gym, you need budget buddies who will keep your budgeting efforts on track.
In addition to your friends, you also need to take into consideration how you will hold yourself accountable. How will you make sure you’re remaining financially on track? Will you reward yourself once you’ve reached your goals? These are all aspects you’ll need to think about while creating your budget.
Set measurable goals
Remember, becoming financially fit is a long-term strategy. Anything worth achieving takes time, patience and lots of dedication. When setting financial goals, you want to ensure you are challenging yourself, but also being realistic. To keep yourself motivated, try setting small goals or benchmarks along the path to your ultimate financial goals. Setting and achieving these smaller goals will keep you on the right path and help keep your motivation high—even if you haven’t reached your long-term goal.
Instead of setting a single number as your ultimate goal, you can also try setting a target range. Recent studies have shown that individuals are actually more motivated to achieve their goals when given a little extra wiggle room, instead of only focusing their attention on one “make-it-or-break-it” goal.
Never be afraid to reward yourself for all of your hard work. For each goal—small or large—that you achieve, treat yourself to a reward. Just make sure that the reward you choose does not offset all of your hard financial work. Some ideas for a small reward could be to enjoy a fun date night in without the kids, or to buy yourself a fun, new financial planner.
“Some customers even like to set aside $10 a month and take a fun trip once the funds reach a certain amount,” says George. “This is a great way to reward yourself for all your hard work without tapping into your savings or going into further debt.”
Bottom line, whatever reward you choose, make sure it’s realistic and sticks with your financial goals.
Are you feeling a little financially drained? With help from Two Rivers Bank & Trust, you could be feeling financially fit in no time. Contact us today or visit our website to learn more about the unique financial solutions we have to offer. Whatever your financial goals may be in the New Year, we promise to work side-by-side with you or your business to ensure those goals are achieved.