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2017 is nearly over and, as of this writing, Christmas is just about here. Unfortunately, this festive holiday season has a sneaky little way of depleting our bank accounts – no matter how frugal we tend to be the rest of the year. Thankfully, the new year is now beating down our door and it’s time to make a few resolutions to live our best lives in 2018! To be successful though, resolutions need to be S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused, and Time-Bound. So if you’re ready to make 2018 your best money year yet, here are a few ideas to get you started.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an accountant or a hair stylist, if you’re reading this article you just might benefit from some financial advice in the new year.
Fortunately, financial advice can come from many sources, including an actual financial advisor, the internet, your grandmother, or a financially-savvy co-worker. Regardless of where you get your advice, make sure you do your own homework and don’t make hasty decisions with your money. Other people, although well-intentioned, aren’t always right. Use your noggin’.
After you have a better understanding of your 2018 financial starting line and where you’d like to end up next December, you’re ready to start taking action. Let’s do this.
Start A Budget
As you look ahead to the new year, sit down and use a budget planner. We have never been a huge fan of budgets, but we have used them in the past and do generally make a loosey-goosey one at the beginning of each month to make sure we’re not frittering away our cash on cat toys and designer jeans. Ha! Designer jeans – As if!
If you’re not living in poverty and have a decent salary, you will most definitely be able to find some wiggle room in your budget. By cutting costs here and there you’ll be able to free up some extra money for your emergency fund, debt repayment, or investing. Woot woot!
And with that, you’re off and running in the new year. Now, onto the most basic resolution you need to make in 2018.
Make An Emergency Fund A Priority
We have arrived. This is the absolute most important thing you need to have in your financial arsenal. Because you never know when you’re going to encounter an unexpected financial hit, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. It’s going to be much harder to be successful with your money if you’re putting a car repair or roof replacement on a credit card charging 15% interest.
Unfortunately, most people put such expenses on high-interest credit cards because they don’t have an emergency fund. Make this a habit, and you’ll be buried in debt in no time – AND you won’t have an emergency fund for the next time something goes awry. My suggestion, if there is one thing you do in 2018, make it establishing an emergency fund. You’ll sleep better.
Eliminate Your Debt
Telling yourself you will deal with your debt is a little vague. How are you going to go about it? Be specific and set an exact plan in place. Remember, make your resolutions S.M.A.R.T. Not sure what that is? Lucky you, I wrote an article about it!
For example, look at the debt you currently hold, make a list including balances and interest rates. Be sure to include: car loan, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, mortgage, etc.
Then, make a decision as to whether you’re going to use the Debt Avalanche or the Debt Snowball to pay them off. The Avalanche focuses solely on interest rates and puts the highest rate debt first. Conversely, the Snowball focuses solely on balances and puts the smallest balance first.
There are benefits to both methods and it’s hard to go wrong either way. So whichever one speaks most to you, roll with it!
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Try A Side Hustle
After you’re making budgets, saving for emergencies, and paying down your debt, you might want to consider increasing your income to build wealth or have a little fun.
The hot thing these days is having a side hustle. The money you make is going to depend on your side hustle of choice.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home parent or work full time, you can still generate some extra income on the side.
Side hustles range from selling stuff to filling out online surveys to driving for Uber. And the list doesn’t stop there. So if you don’t want to wait until 2018 to get started, here are a few ideas you can use today.
A new year is a perfect time to make changes to live your best life. So go ahead, start making those resolutions. Oh, and Happy 2018!
Have you given any consideration to your New Year’s resolutions for 2018? If so, we want to hear about them in the comments.