Four Easy Financial Resolutions For The Fall

Four Easy Financial Resolutions For The Fall
It's the last 100 days of the year, what are you going to do with them? How about setting some financial resolutions? This gives us the opportunity to close out the year by really going hard to achieve the financial goals we set for the year initially or achieve new financial goals we set along the way. Fall allows us to reflect upon the last 265 days of the year and evaluate whether or not we like what we saw. If we didn't, now is the time to pivot and change it.

If you find yourself struggling to keep the financial resolutions you made last year, take a good look at them again. Why did you choose those goals? Why are they important to you? Throughout the year our priorities can change and some goals take precedence over others, or we forget the goals we set. Don't be discouraged if upon revisiting your financial goals, you find you have broken them. A good mentor once told me, "Where you are is just where you are, not who you are." and this reminds me that you can choose to start fresh today no matter what the last 265 days have looked like. 

Here are a few great financial resolutions you can adopt heading into Autumn:

1. Set up an emergency fund of at least $3000.
When we have an emergency fund, everything else in our finances feels easier. This emergency fund is the first step to getting your finances in order and a great resolution for the end of the year. And, you can do this even if you think you don't have money to spare after paying your monthly expenses.

Go through your home and find things you no longer use or haven't used in 6 months. This includes clothes, furniture, shoes, decorations, anything you can find, you can sell and earn cash for. I like to use Facebook marketplace and stick to local pickup so you don't have to worry about shipping.

The other way to increase your income and beef up your emergency fund is by cancelling subscriptions. This is where you can evaluate whether a subscription is a need or a want. For example, I had an Audible subscription at $15 a month. I found that I could cancel it, join my local library and listen to audiobooks for free! Check your tv subscriptions, gym or anything else you pay for monthly and really evaluate how much you use it and whether it is something that is necessary for you to live.  I usually say anything that makes me money, puts food on my table, or gets me to my job is necessary, everything else might not be. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions and put that cash right into your emergency fund.

Last but not least I recommend taking on extra hours at work or using your skills to work a side job. Everyone has strengths, what is something you can do that can bring in extra income? With the holiday season approaching, lots of jobs are looking for extra help and hours to fill. Any extra money you bring in can go right into your emergency fund.

2. Start investing!
This is something I wish I had done in my twenties. It's how you can make your money work for you and how you can set yourself up for retirement (and maybe even retire early!). The sooner you start, the easier it is. If you're not sure how, youtube is your friend.

My recommendation is to start with opening up an investment account if you don't already have one. My favorites are Vanguard or Fidelity or Charles Schwab. Each has different pros and cons depending on your lifestyle. If you have one with your employer and they match your investment, make sure you are maximizing that by putting in the percent they require to match. For example, if you start investing $200 every month for 10 years and you earn 6% yearly, at the end of 10 years you'll have $33,300. Of that though, only $24,200 is money you've put in. The other $9,100 is interest you have earned on your investments. The more that grows, the more your investments grow.

The amount you invest monthly will depend on your age and when you aim to retire. The younger you are, the less money you'll have to start investing monthly to reach your goals. Use Google to find a retirement calculator and calculate how much you should be investing. If you can't meet that minimum, that's ok! You can work your way up. Any amount of money you can invest is better than not investing at all. My suggestion, automate your investments so you can set it and forget it. Just be sure that you're money is being put to work inside your investment accounts and not just sitting in your investment company waiting to be applied to a specific investment.

3. Pay off debt.
Do you know how much debt you have? Write down all of the debt that you owe from credit cards to car loans to student loans and even borrowed money from friends or family. Once you can see it, you can create a plan of attack to pay it off.

Now list your debts from smallest to largest. Let's be honest, paying down debt isn't exactly the most fun but if you can give yourself quick wins you're much more likely to stick with it. That's why we start with the smallest debt you have. I recommend calculating your monthly expenses and monthly income to arrive at your "green gap" amount. This is the money you have leftover after paying all of your bills. Once you have that amount, you can delegate 45% of it to paying off debt, 45% to investments and then take 10% and put it into a fun account.

The key here is to continue paying the minimum payments on all of your debts and take that 45% extra to put on your smallest debt. Watch how fast that debt disappears and see how good you feel about your accomplishments. Now keep going!

4. Pay for the holidays with cash.
This is a great financial resolution to set now that you are on your way to becoming debt free! The holidays are a time of year when marketing is turned way up and we are made to believe that gifts = love. It's so easy to get sucked into the belief that more gifts equal more love, right? If you're a parent you have probably felt the pressure to "keep up with the joneses" when friends are posting on social media pictures of how many presents are under the Christmas tree. Here's where you can start to free your mind from these beliefs because you are clear on your financial resolutions.

Set a holiday budget for yourself and stick to it. One way I like to do this is to set up a "holiday fund" at my bank. This is just an extra account where I can put money for the holidays. If you have to lessen the amount you pay towards investments these next three months, you can choose to do that so that you don't go into additional debt just for the holidays. Know how good this will feel going into 2022 with less debt.

Let me know what financial resolutions you are setting for the year, and of course if you need help, reach out!

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