Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to set new financial goals. Take advantage of the last few weeks of the year to make a dent in debt and start saving. Here’s how:
Assess your debt and attack high interest obligations first. (or assess your situation and where to strike first)
The first step is to stop and take a look at the money you are owing including loans, credit card debt and lines of credit. Identify which is the most pressing concern and which is forcing you to pay the highest interest on the debt. Now, time to start tackling the red ink.
Give yourself a 30-day challenge and say “no” to spending, and “yes” to paying off debt. Maybe that means staying home more often instead of eating out or have friends over for a night of movies and popcorn instead.
Get creative and figure out areas where you can pull on spending.
- Meal plan to cut down on grocery bills.
- Skip the drive-thru for your daily coffee.
Look at your habits and figure out ways you can save. Next, take that dollar, $5 dollars, or whatever amount that you see yourself saving and automatically put that towards debt. It may seem like it won’t make a difference, but it does. By staying laser-focused on making those debt repayments frequently, you will begin to make new habits and stay motivated to stick with it.
Holiday Spending, Holiday bonuses
Do yourself a favour and don’t get into debt over Christmas giving. Have a family meeting and decide together that you will reduce Christmas spending this year. Think about ways you can spend time together at Christmas instead of opening gifts- go for a toboggan ride, play games, serve at a food bank. Choose an activity to show all the emphasis isn’t on presents.
You can even take it one step further. If you get gifts from family members every year, have an honest conversation and ask for cash for debt repayment or gift cards that can be used for practical purchases. It takes strength to put your ego aside like this, but will give a big boost to your efforts to catch up on debt.
Many times if you are used to getting a Christmas bonus, you already have it spent in your mind before it even comes. Commit to paying off debt this year. Change your mindset- you don’t need to reward yourself with your bonus, you need to pay off how you have rewarded yourself in the past! Get that debt repaid so you can start 2018 off on a strong note.
Save, then Invest
When I coach people on investing I consistently hear the phrase “I don’t feel like saving $25 per pay cheque will help, so I don’t bother.” Guess what – had you started with $25 per pay cheque bi-weekly at age 18, and you are now 43- invested at 6% you would have over $37,000! But had you started at 18, you likely wouldn’t have quit at $25 per pay cheque. That is the key.
The $25 is a starting point and you can continue to grow that number until you are saving a much larger amount from each cheque. I have helped many people “find” money to invest that they didn’t think was possible. Make your contributions to investing automatic and you will not “see” it, so you won’t spend it. This makes it easier. Help yourself out instead of fighting the spending habits! Compounding is key and time is your friend-start today.
Keep your goals simple and start with a 30-day goal. Sometimes setting yearly goals can be overwhelming and the end of the year is the perfect time to set smaller goals and achieve them. This will give you confidence setting bigger goals in 2018. Be sure to track your progress and assess your success frequently, so you can make adjustments as necessary.