5 Clever Ways to Stay Financially Disciplined in the New Year

5 Clever Ways to Stay Financially Disciplined in the New Year

Use these strategies to keep your financial resolutions on track.

If you’re like many people, you created financial New Year’s resolutions (and if you didn’t, it’s never too late). Maybe you want to go paperless, save more for retirement or pare down those credit card balances in 2018.

But making a resolution and achieving it are two different things. The habits you create allow you to bridge the gap and stick to your plans. When you run out of willpower, try these clever ways to stay disciplined and keep your financial plans on track.

1. Set a money objective. You’ve heard that you should have financial goals to steer your behavior. Oftentimes we don’t create goals because it seems too complicated or we don’t know what they should be in the first place. Or you might feel uninspired because you created financial goals in the past, but they didn’t help.

This year, try a different, simplified approach by setting a money objective. It’s a word or short phrase that gives direction to your entire financial life and becomes a theme you rally around. You might keep the same money objective forever or update it from year to year.

For instance, if you’re worried about not saving enough for retirement, your money objective could be “future needs.” Online shopping out of control? Try “spend mindfully.” Or “kid’s college” could be your financial mantra if your No. 1 priority is paying for a child’s education.

Getting clear about your true objective is powerful because it turbocharges your financial willpower. There isn’t a right or wrong priority to have. Just pick something you feel strongly about and pursue it with a vengeance.

2. Use automation. Whether you want to save for a house down payment, emergency fund or beach vacation, make it as convenient as possible to achieve your money objective. Automation adds built-in discipline to your financial life and reduces the likelihood that you’ll forget your objective or spend money on things you don’t need.

If you have a retirement plan at work, such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457, always participate and contribute as much as possible. These accounts are so successful at getting workers to save because contributions must be deducted from your paycheck before you ever see the money.

Most employers offer direct deposit for your paycheck that can be split into multiple accounts, such as your checking and savings. You can also set up a transfer to automatically move funds from your checking into savings or other types of accounts, such as an IRA, 529 college savings plan or health savings account, on a regular basis.

Not having to think about saving takes the stress out of managing money. And after a while, you probably won’t even miss the money.

3. Give yourself a challenge. If controlling your spending is a struggle, be aware of how it’s holding you back from achieving your money objective. Cutting unnecessary expenses is the key to living below your means, so you have plenty of money left over each month to reach your financial dreams.

Give yourself a challenge by actively resisting expenses that are most tempting. For instance, you might:

  • Cook at home every day for a month instead of eating out.
  • Not buy any new clothes for 60 days.
  • Avoid shopping as entertainment.
  • Unsubscribe from all retail newsletters that offer sales you can’t resist.
  • Wait at least 24 hours before buying anything more expensive than a certain dollar amount.

4. Change your environment. To change your habits, try changing your environment. Sometimes staying motivated is as simple as frequently reminding yourself of your money objective.

Create visible triggers that prompt you to think about what you want to accomplish every day. Put cues in your home, workplace, car and other strategic places you can’t avoid. When those prompts get your attention, they spark fresh inspiration and foster good habits.

For instance, you might use a black Sharpie pen to write your money objective on your debit and credit cards. Put it on sticky notes or laminated cards for your desk, bathroom mirror, refrigerator and car dashboard. Use it as a screen saver on your computer and mobile devices.

Try writing a journal entry each morning about why your money objective is significant, what you’ll do to accomplish it, then monitor your progress. Any strategy that keeps your goals top-of-mind will help you focus on what’s most important and reinforce your commitments. Your money objective will guide your behavior, but only if you remember it.

5. Get support. You might find that it’s easier to achieve your money objective with a partner or group than to work on it alone. Consider asking a close friend, roommate or spouse to help you stay accountable.

Likewise, you may be able to help him or her set and achieve a money goal. Set a time to check in with each other on a regular basis to report your challenges and progress, so you clear away barriers to success.

When you begin making financial progress, something miraculous happens. You start to feel excited about having money in the bank or seeing your retirement account balance surge. Knowing that you have the self-control and discipline to achieve your money objective gives you energy to overcome challenges and completely transform your financial life.

Article Source

How to Use Deliberate Experimentation to Improve Your Finances

How to Use Deliberate Experimentation to Improve Your Finances

Test varied savings and budgeting methods to discover what works for your financial life.

When most people think of scientists like Isaac Newton, inventors like Thomas Edison, statesmen like Benjamin Franklin or entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos, they tend to think of people who rode a rocket ship to success. While each one of these individuals achieved many successes in their lives, the most important attribute they had in common is that they failed, over and over again.

However, it’s not just that they failed, but how they failed. They repeatedly tried experiments in their lives and their work to see what would succeed and what wouldn’t. They came up with an idea, tested it to see if it actually worked, then quickly moved on to the next experiment, retaining the things that worked and tossing the ones that did not.

This process is called deliberate experimentation, and it’s not just something for hyper-successful self-starters. It’s something you can apply successfully in your own life and in your financial choices.

By simply conducting little experiments in your life to see what works and what doesn’t, you can quickly adopt a more successful pattern of money use in your life and get more value out of every dollar you earn. Here are some deliberate experiments you can try.

Whenever you buy a household product or food staple, buy the store-brand version. Try out that store-brand version instead of the one you always buy. If you don’t notice a difference in quality, you now know that you can always buy that product. If it’s not up to your standards, then you’re only out a dollar or two, and you can buy the name-brand version next time.

Try different methods of making your own coffee at home or at work.Cold-brewing your own coffee is amazingly simple, as it just requires a cloth tea bag, some cold water and a pitcher left in the refrigerator overnight. See if that is easy enough and high-quality enough for you. Try adding different flavors to your coffee to see what you really enjoy and stick with that recipe. It’s almost always going to be faster and less expensive than a morning coffee stop.

Try going without cable for a month. See what happens if you disconnect your cable box for 30 days. Can you do it? Do you easily discover new sources of entertainment? If you find that it’s hard, and you end up plugging it back in, then you know cable is a good value. If you find you don’t miss it, then you can cancel your cable and revel in the savings.

The next time you make a batch of soup, triple the recipe and freeze the extras. Take your favorite soup recipe and triple it, and just before you’re about to eat it, put the extra soup into several containers (freezer Ziploc bags work well). Over the next month or two, use the frozen soups for dinner, and after the last one is used, assess whether you saved time and money doing this.

Try using public transportation for your commute. Use public transportation for a solid week or month and observe whether you’re saving money, time and fuel.

Try not washing certain clothing items. Instead of immediately washing your jeans or other outerwear, visually inspect them and just hang up any items that appear fully clean. See whether wearing the clothes again between washes works for you. If it does, not only are you saving money on laundry, but you’re also extending the life of the apparel, as laundering adds wear and tear to clothing items.

On a day when the temperature is between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, open your windows instead of using climate control.See whether your home stays at a pleasant temperature. If it does, then you have a new tactic for saving on heating and cooling costs.

The goal of these deliberate experiments is to try something new in your own life and see whether it works for you. Does it achieve financial gain with no real lifestyle cost? Or do you find that this particular experiment ends up causing a net loss in your life? Try something new, evaluate fairly whether it works or not, discard it if it fails and keep it if it succeeds.

Over time, deliberate experiments in all areas of your life will result in a better personal, professional and financial you.

Article Source

10 Bills to Lower in the New Year

10 Bills to Lower in the New Year

If your New Year’s resolution is to get your finances in order, start with these bills.

Whether it’s losing weight or breaking a bad habit, New Year’s resolutions are a time-honored tradition. For those hoping to clean up their finances or put away more money for retirement this year, the best place to start is by cutting all unneeded expenses that can whittle down a budget.

“January is the perfect time to sit down and look at all the expenses you’re paying,” says Tracie Miller-Nobles, certified public accountant and member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. Once you’ve done that, it should be easy to identify which expenses are ripe for reduction.

While some services, such as Billshark and BillFixers, promise to negotiate lower rates for you, the fees can be significant. With Billshark, for instance, you have to fork over 40 percent of the savings to the company. Meanwhile, BillFixers takes half. Instead of sharing the savings, you could do the legwork yourself and skip the fees.

Here are 10 bills to start slashing for the new year.

Cable. Cable is the low-hanging fruit, given the many ways to watch shows on the cheap or for free. An old-fashioned roof antenna will get you over-the-air channels at no cost, while streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube TV may provide movies and live programming at a significantly lower cost than traditional cable.

If you can’t bear to give up cable, another option is to call your current provider and ask for a discount. “You’re in a good position to negotiate once you’ve come to the end of your contract and your monthly fee is about to increase,” says Courtney Jespersen, consumer savings expert for personal finance website NerdWallet.

Mobile phone service. Finding cheaper mobile phone service can also be easy nowadays, as many carriers have moved away from contracts. Smaller cellphone companies may run on the same networks as major providers, meaning they offer the same level of coverage at a reduced cost.

However, before switching, Miller-Nobles says to be sure you’re making an apples-to-apples comparison. “Sometimes you’re looking at the rate and not reading all the other fees,” she says. Make sure there aren’t any startup costs or add-ons that could raise your monthly bill.

Gym membership. At the start of a new year, many people are buying gym memberships, but now could be the time to unload the one you signed up for last year. Rather than renewing your contract, let it lapse if you haven’t been consistent about working out in the past 12 months.

While the weather may not be conducive for walking in much of the country during the winter, videos on YouTube or other sites make it easy to exercise from home for free. If you prefer to use gym equipment, check with your health insurer or workplace to see if a free or reduced-cost membership is available as a company wellness perk.

Recurring charges. From automatic shipments of cat food to membership in an auto club, there is no end to the type of recurring charges you may be paying. Indeed, you may have forgotten about many of them, but now is the time to identify which companies automatically bill you every month. “The best way is to go back and look at the last three months of credit card and bank statements,” Miller-Nobles says.

Then decide which of those services are needed and which can be eliminated. In particular, watch for items that may duplicate services. For instances, you may be a member of the auto club for roadside assistance, but that service may also be a perk of your credit card or car insurance.

Insurance. Speaking of insurance, the market is competitive, which means it’s a good idea to check quotes. Even if you haven’t had any claims, your rates could be affected by events happening elsewhere. “Floods in Houston can affect insurance rates,” says John Gajkowski, a certified financial planner with Money Managers Financial Group in Oak Brook, Illinois.

A company that heavily insured an area hit by a natural disaster may be raising rates while other insurers are holding steady. While you can do some initial comparison shopping for insurance quotes online, be prepared to spend some time on the phone talking to agents as well. Don’t forget to ask if there is a discount for bundling your home, car and life insurance.

Credit cards. If you carry a balance on your credit cards, you could be spending hundreds, if not thousands, on interest charges each year. Fortunately, many cards offer introductory rates that can lower interest or even bring it down to zero temporarily if you transfer a balance. Just check for balance transfer fees first to make sure the savings are worth any cost, and be wary of potential pitfalls. Once a balance is transferred, discontinue use of the old card to avoid adding to your debt. Also, keep in mind that new credit inquiries can negatively affect your credit score.

Other loans. Mortgages, car loans and personal loans may all be refinanced for a lower rate as well. While refinancing a car loan or personal loan can be a relatively easy process, mortgages are more involved. However, a mortgage refinance has the potential to save you the most money. As with credit cards, check for any fees and make sure the savings justify the expense.

Utilities. You can’t eliminate utility bills, but you can reduce them. “Utility bills are inherently difficult to read,” Jespersen says. If you see line items you don’t understand, call and ask for an explanation. Some utilities tack on fees for optional services such as appliance repair plans that can be easily removed.

Utility bills can also be reduced by being smart about energy usage. Winterizing your home to reduce heat loss can drop utility bills, as can employing tried-and-true strategies such as turning off lights and turning down the thermostat at night.

Internet. Internet access is essential for many people, but you may not need a separate, pricey plan. Some people find it cheaper to set up a hot spot through their wireless carrier. This allows you to connect to the internet on a laptop or other device using your phone’s 4G data plan. Another money-saving option is to bundle internet service with cable and a home phone line.

Beyond that, don’t pay for service you can’t use. “For instance, when my internet has outages, I call and ask to be refunded for that period of time,” Jepersen says. “If I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t automatically get the credit.”

Dining out. Although not a single monthly bill, dining out is an expense that can break many people’s budgets. Miller-Nobles notes the AICPA has a lunch savings calculator on its 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy website. It shows that packing a $3 lunch 20 times a month, rather than buying a $10 lunch, could save a person more than $7,700 during the next four years if the difference is invested.

Article Source

Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Hosted By Fundraising Brick
Ocala Temple Renovation Fund
Through the CHURCH OF GOD BY FAITH, INC. Buy-a-Brick Program, you can be a part of the enduring legacy of the historic Ocala Temple. This splendid Temple represents the foundation of ByFaith and we are committed to restoring it to its former glory. Our goal is to fully fund and complete this project with the members and friends of Church of God by Faith. You can choose the names of yourself, family, business, children or your church. There are no limits to how many bricks you can purchase. This is also an opportunity to memorialize your family members who have transitioned to be with Lord. Thank you for your support.
Hello, I'm Chris and I created this website. How can I help you?