Have you been struggling with your finances lately? Come on, be honest… Are you ready to make a change in your personal financial situation in 2012? Well, the good news is you are not alone. If you are like most people, one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get your finances in order and finally take control of your financial life. And we applaud you. As a woman, it is really important that you start becoming more focused on your personal finances to help you plan for a more secure financial future. Here are some tips to help you manage your personal finances in the New Year:
1. Understand some basic financial planning principles
As tedious as it may sound, much of financial planning is staying disciplined and practicing the same financial habits over and over: spending less than you earn, saving for the future, paying off your credit cards each month, etc. Straightforward stuff. And while we know it usually comes down to remembering the basics, most of us still get so overwhelmed with all that we want to achieve financially that we often end up doing nothing at all toward achieving our goals. Call it “sticking-your-head-in-sand syndrome.” The important thing to remember is that these basic financial planning principles actually do work over time and the best thing you can do to ensure your future success is understand them and follow them throughout your financial life.
2. Visualize where you want to be financially on December 31, 2012
Let’s get down to business. Start by listing out all areas of your financial life, including your income, savings, debt, retirement accounts, insurance policies, etc. Then write down where you currently stand within each of these areas and where you would like stand by the end of 2012. (It will be here before you know it.) Be as specific as possible and aim for realistic yet high goals. For example, let’s say you currently have $5,000 in savings and want to have $10,000 in savings by December 31, 2012. This means you have to save $600 per month. After reviewing your cash flow you decide that this is a doable goal, but it will require a game plan to ensure you are saving the amount needed every month. You can do it!
3. Create a Game Plan
Once you map out where you would like to be financially by December 31, 2012, develop a specific game plan to help you get there. In the example above, if you know you need to save $600 a month, setting up an automatic contribution to your savings account every month is a good idea. If this requires you to cut back on shopping or going out to eat, make sure you calculate how much money you can actually spend in these areas without jeopardizing your goal.
4. Just Do It
Seems basic enough, yet many women get so overwhelmed by their finances that they end up disregarding the game plan they set out for themselves. Don’t let this happen to you. Maybe this means scheduling an hour a week to make sure you are on track. Just take action on the game plan and start working toward your financial goals. Whatever the action is, any action is better than none.
5. Check back in on your goals every month
As you work toward the December 31, 2012 vision you have for yourself financially, remember to check back in on your game plan every month to track your progress toward your goals. This will help you stay motivated and adjust the game plan as needed. Going back to the example above, if one month you are unable to save the $600, you need to decide on a new game plan to get back on track toward the goal. Tracking your goals may not be that fun or sexy but it is a necessary step in helping you reach them.
Remember, no one is in charge of your financial future other than you, so take the time to understand and manage your personal finances to help you plan for a better financial future!
Brittney Castro is not affiliated with Madewomanmag.com. Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.
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