The new year brings everyone a fresh start. It is the best time to look back to the year that was and reassess every aspect of our lives.
Millions of people all over the world list down a slew of New Year’s resolution to serve as a reminder of the things that they want to change. Having financial freedom and the promise of saving more, spending less is high up on the list along with exercising regularly and eating healthier. These resolutions, however, are commonly abandoned before January ends.
Getting out of debt and getting one’s finances back on track is now a pressing concern among millions of people in the country. According to a survey conducted by Nerdwallet.com, about 9% of Americans who are buried in consumer debt think that they will never be able to get out of it. So, instead of making a list of hollow promises to better your finances, here is a simple yet realistic financial roadmap that you can easily follow throughout the year:
1. Make an honest assessment.
Start by taking a look back at the previous year and doing some introspection. How much were you able to save? How often have you missed out on paying your bills or paid it late? How is your spending habit? Were there times when you took out a loan just to make ends meet? How much debt have you accumulated during the past year and how much payment have you put in to get rid of it for good? These are the questions that only you can give a truthful answer.
2. Set realistic goals.
This is perhaps why new year’s resolutions are doomed to fail: people make ambitious goals that they want to achieve the soonest time possible, but when it starts to feel unrealistic, they simply abandon it.
Here’s the key to effective financial goal setting: be smart about it. When you set goals that are simple, motivating, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive, you will surely be driven to achieve it.
3. Create a plan.
Based on your assessment of your current financial situation, create your plan. This is the part where you identify your needs and set your priorities. If you haven’t created a budget before, now is the time to have one. Having a budget is essential for you to see if you are spending more than what you earn and how much goes into your savings if there’s any.
4. Get rid of your debt.
Debt is the biggest roadblock to financial freedom. It’s a problem that you just can’t ignore and it won’t go away magically. Fortunately, you only need to do two things to get that debt roadblock out of your way to financial freedom for good:
Pay off your debt. After assessing your finances and seeing how much debt you actually owe, it’s time for you to take action, and do it immediately! Consumer debt, specifically credit card debt, takes up a huge chunk of an average American’s total debt. There’s no other way to deal with but to pay for it as soon as you can.
If you are struggling to pay more than $10,000 of unsecured debt such as credit card debts, personal loans, or even medical bills, then it’s time for you to consider debt settlement services. But if your total debt amount is much lower than this, then you can work out a payment plan of your own and make sure that you pay off more than just the required minimum monthly payment.
Ditch the bad spending habit. Accumulating consumer debt usually stems from bad spending habit. You live beyond your means and spend more than what you can actually afford. Whatever the reason you’re doing this, it will just end up in one thing: you being buried in a mountain of debt. Paying off your debt won’t do you any good if you will not change your spending habits. It will just be another vicious cycle: you being caught in a debt trap, struggling to get out and finally being free, only to find yourself back in the same trap after a few months or so. You can get as much as financial advice from anyone but only you can change your attitude towards money.
Imagine how much money you will be able to save and put to good use once you are debt-free. Once you get this stumbling block out of the way, the road to financial freedom will be much easier for you to pave and travel on.
5. Build an emergency fund.
A lot of people rely on debt or their credit cards because they couldn’t afford to shell out the amount needed in cash when an emergency situation arises. Stop this from happening by building up your very own emergency fund. Setting aside even just a small amount on a regular basis for those unexpected situations can go a long way.
6. Do a midyear check.
Yes, you have to do a financial health check regularly. This is for you to monitor whether you are on track with your financial goals or if your plan needs a little tweaking for improvement.
7. Save, save, save!
Saving money builds the foundation of your financial security and independence. Remember, every penny counts. So don’t just stop by putting a percentage of your income on to your savings account. Have a container where you can put your spare change and you’ll be surprised by how much you will have in a year.
8. Make this a habit.
Turning around your financial situation doesn’t happen overnight. The road to financial freedom is also not easy to traverse; there will be a lot of challenges. Achieving your ultimate goal takes time, discipline, and most of all, consistency. Just keep on the right track and turn all the steps above into a habit and you’ll soon be successful in your endeavor and achieve financial security and freedom.