A new year brings new opportunities to evaluate your financial habits and create goals for the coming year. Ensure you’re beginning 2016 on the right financial foot with these tips:
1. Make smart goals. We know you’re not making dumb goals, but truly smart goals are:
For example, instead of resolving to pay off debt, resolve to pay off debt by putting an extra $200 each pay period toward your loans. If you have a lot of debt spread around, you can try to consolidate it. A personal friend who is an officer with Personal Loans At Oink Money gave this excellent tip. Instead of deciding to start an emergency fund, decide to start putting 10 percent of your paycheck in an emergency account until you’ve saved three months worth of expenses.
If you’ve already made your goals, check to see if they fit the SMART criteria.
2. Write them down. Studies show that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Keep your goals where you can see them every day, whether that’s on the fridge, in your wallet or scrawled across your bathroom mirror. Turn your goals into habits by constantly reminding yourself of them — especially when you feel tempted to break one.
3. Pay yourself first. Too many people wait to save money at the end of the month, when there’s hardly anything left. If you want to make saving a priority, do it before you buy groceries or go to the movies. Treat your savings as another bill you can’t afford to miss.
To make this easier, make saving automatic. Have part of your salary automatically routed to a retirement or savings account or schedule automatic transfers from your bank account.
4. Earn more money. If you want to make big changes this year, cutting your budget isn’t enough. You’ll have to bring in more income.
It might be time to ask for a raise or promotion at work. Women are much less likely to negotiate their salary or push for raises, and plenty of men have the same attitude.
If this is you, commit to asking for a raise or promotion this year. Come prepared with a list of ways you’ve increased efficiency, sales and productivity. When you can present a solid case, it’s much harder for a supervisor to deny you.
Practice negotiating beforehand and read up on proven strategies. If you have an annual review, request it at this time. If not, try to make your request during a period when there’s still room in the budget for a salary increase.
Zina Kumok is a writer for TraditionalIRA.com and RothIRA.com specializing in personal finance. She started covering personal finance while blogging about paying off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, Daily Worth and Time magazines.
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