How did you feel about your money situation in 2014?
Was it better than expected? Worse?
Are you "planning" on making 2015 better, or are you committed?
Or are you going to be like many people and "should" all over yourself talking about what you're not doing.
Remember, you can't expect to have different results thinking and acting the same way you did last year.
You need a new level of commitment. You need new strategies. Besides, do you really want to end up like most who got disappointed with similar results as the previous year? Even if you did better in 2014, do you wonder why you didn't have more savings or pay off more debt?
Because I understand our human nature (being human myself), here are 3 simple ways that's worked for me that WILL improve your financial life in 2015.
- Create a spending plan by reviewing at least 6 months from 2014
- Set clear objectives for 2015
- Spend at least 3-5 minutes weekly actively tracking your money
That's it! Let me explain each of these further so you not only read it, but act (big pet peeve of mine).
1. Create a spending plan by reviewing at least 6 months from 2014
This can be the most time consuming. Fortunately, you only have to do it once in a while. A great tool to use is setting up a free account at Mint.com and connect all of your personal accounts. If you want to track business expenses, use QuickBooks or Quicken. Once you've connected your accounts, go back as far as you can, and start categorizing your income and expenses.
Warning - This is the toughest part! But once you do it, and follow the other steps, it gets easier.
Once you've done this, go into the Budgets section (or the Trend section), and view the average you have spent each month. From there, create a rough budget. Don't get too married to this number since it can change as you track month after month. There are great tutorials to help you with this. The key is to get started here and commit to doing it all year long to save yourself a lot of headache and time.
2. Set Clear Objectives for 2015
You need to have a driving force (a big "why") to inspire different habits this year! Although you may like it, I can't stand using the word "goals." Goals, in my mind, are those lofty dreams you set only to get disappointed later. I prefer to use the term "objectives" because it sounds like I'm on a mission and it MUST be accomplished. However, use whatever word works best for you.
Be sure to set objectives that you are at least 70-80% sure you can achieve. It must be measurable, believable (with some effort), and excite you! These are objectives (goals) that you cannot give up on nor be too "airy-fairy." It's okay to set an objective that is only a little better than last year. Remember, progress over perfection.
3. Spend at Least 3-5 Minutes Weekly actively Tracking Your Money
This one is the simplest, but many people fail here. Tracking your money is like working out, but WAY easier. Each week, we should be spending at least 2-3 hours exercising, right? But all I ask is that you spend no more than 5-10 minutes each week tracking your money. Imagine if you could get a super lean and fit body working out only 5-10 minutes per week! So why not spend that time tracking something that affects every aspect of your life - your money?
The neat thing about these programs, is they "remember" how you categorize. This will save you a ton of time. For example, if you shop at Costco and categorize it as Groceries, the next time you shop there, it'll automatically categorize it in Groceries. Isn't that awesome?! All you have to do is make sure they are categorized correctly, make sure your budget is working, and make sure you are profitable each month (more income than expenses).
Doing these 3 things alone will increase your odds of success this year! I've also noticed people saving money and paying off debt faster just because they are actively tracking it rather than spending whatever they have and fighting with their spouses about spending money. Acting on these simple strategies will guarantee less stress and better odds that you'll achieve your financial desires in 2013.
Now, let's start 2015 better than last year, and get to work!!!