Personal finances are an important part of life – the quality of your finances has a direct influence on your quality of life and other life experiences. However, your finances will naturally tend to move out of control and you’ll constantly feel like you are swimming out of your depth because human wants are unlimited but the resources available to meet those needs are limited. But, setting personal finance goals at the start of each New Year could give you a sense of direction in your finances. This piece provides insight into 4 personal finance goals you should work towards achieving in 2018.
1. Start each month with a written budget
Many people just go with the flow in financial matters – they spend money when it is available and they stay “humble” when they are broke. A budget is a simple tool that helps you regain control of your finances because it stops you from overspending. A budget is a spending plan that helps you make conscious decisions on where your money will go. You’ll write your earnings in a column and write out the planned expenses in another column, ensuring that the total value of the expenses doesn’t exceed the value of your earnings. A budget won’t necessarily solve your financial problems but you’ll have fewer instances of running out of money before the end of the month.
Writing a budget is one thing but developing the grit to stick to the budget when the lure of impulsive spending becomes strong is something else. Taking the time to write down every purchase you make in a journal or a spreadsheet on your smartphone will make you more aware of your spending. If you keep up the expense journaling consistently for three months, you’ll start noticing patterns in your spending habits and you can then see the deficiencies of your budgeting, especially if you are not allocating enough money towards savings and investments.
3. Start cutting your debt burden
If you are serious about getting rid of debt, you’ll need to take the time to write out all the debt you have – this includes credit card debt, student loans, mortgages, and bank overdrafts among others. After writing down all your debts, you’ll need to set a realistic goal of how much debt you want to eliminate in 2018. Creating a debt repayment plan can help you make proactive measures to cut down your debt profile. If your debt profile is not too high, you can even shoot for becoming debt free by the end of 2018.
4. Don’t increase your debt profile
If you want to succeed in your plan to get rid of debt (see 3), you’ll need to make conscious effort to stop adding new debt. You can’t be adding new debt and hope to get out of debt, you’ll only go deeper into debt. Setting a goal not to take on new debt in 2018 will help you to have more money to apply towards important life events because you won’t be ‘wasting’ money paying interest. You should also develop the habit of saving up money to fund major expenses instead of borrowing money to finance major expenses.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.