This Christmas Day, Reflect on Your Goals for the Coming Year
The holiday season is a time for food, family, and fun. It's also a time for deep introspection. Did you accomplish your goals this year? Were you happy? Are you in a better financial position than you were at this time last year? At Family Credit Management, our mission is to help your money work for you. Today, we reveal four questions to ask yourself this year to improve your financial future and ensure your money is working for you.
1. DOES MY SPENDING REFLECT MY VALUES?
Do you want to qualify for or pay off a mortgage? Do you want to bulk up your retirement savings or save up an emergency fund? Do you know what you'd like your money to do? It's essential that your spending reflects your values.
If you don't know what you want your money to do for you, this should be your top priority. If you know what you want, but your actions aren't helping you achieve your goals, ask yourself why. Do you need to reprioritize your spending? Do you need different goals?
2. WHERE CAN I SAVE MONEY IN THE COMING YEAR?
Paying off debt can seem impossible, especially when you're drowning in credit card debt. You can make timely minimum payments on all your cards and installment loans, but feel like you're treading water because the APR is so high. How are you supposed to pay down the principal if nearly your entire payment is going towards interest?
Debt consolidation is one of the most effective debt refinancing options. You can try to refinance each of your loans for lower interest rates, but you're still left with several monthly payments to keep track of. By taking out one loan to pay off all, or most, of your existing debt, you can enjoy fewer monthly payments, reduced interest, and more favorable terms.
If you're struggling to make your credit card payments every month or feel like you're not making any headway on your debt payoff plan, debt consolidation is a game-changer. With just a little information, we can create a customized financial action plan for you. Request a free debt consolidation quote and pay off your debt faster so your money can work for you.
3. WHAT IS STOPPING ME FROM TAKING ACTION?
You want financial freedom. You're sick and tired of worrying about when your car insurance will draft. Your power company is calling with the threat of turning off your natural gas because you missed making the minimum manual payment. You're getting collection calls at work from credit card companies.
As you look towards the next year, ask yourself what's holding you back from achieving financial freedom. For many people, the answer is fear. People fear rejection. People fear failure. But there's a good chance you'll never get that promotion or raise if you don't ask for it. You'll never get a job closer to home if you don't apply. Most importantly, you'll never achieve financial freedom if you don't get your spending under control.
4. WHERE DO I WANT TO BE FINANCIALLY ONE YEAR FROM NOW?
One of the most common mistakes we see is people not taking action because they are overwhelmed. Don't worry today about how you'll pay for your health insurance in retirement. Instead, focus on where you want to be financially one year from now. Do you want to end this coming year with no debt? Do you want to make an extra mortgage payment? Do you want to save up a $1,000 emergency fund? Whatever your financial goals are for the upcoming year, make sure they're SMART.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For argument's sake, let's say you have the intention of paying off a credit card. That's a great goal. But how do you make it SMART? Let's take a closer look at the five components of this type of goal.
Identifying your debt as credit card debt is a good start. But what type of credit card debt is it? Is it a Discover It card? Is it a MasterCard you got to pay for your college textbooks? Know exactly which card you are paying off.
Let's say you have an $1,800 balance on your credit card, and it is in an interest-free grace period for the next 12 months. For your goal to be specific and measurable, you should say, I will pay off my $1,800 Barnes & Noble credit card. Now you're well on your way to having a SMART goal.
The best goals are those that are achievable. If you set a goal that is too lofty from the beginning, you may be too overwhelmed to start accomplishing your goal. While considering your first SMART financial goal, take a look at your budget to see what is realistic. This will help you set appropriate parameters.
If you've never had a budget before, you're not alone. People have different budgeting processes, but it all comes down to writing down all your income and all your expenses for a given period.
Make sure your goal is relevant. Do you want to improve your cash flow? Paying off your credit card will help with that. Do you want to increase your net worth? Eliminating debt is a great way to start. Once you know how you want your money to work for you, set a SMART financial goal that will help you accomplish your ultimate goal.
All good goals are time-bound. It's easy to say I will pay off my $1,800 Barnes & Noble credit card to improve my cash flow. But when are you going to pay it off? Set a realistic timeline for accomplishing your goal. For example, you should say, I will pay off my $1,800 Barnes & Noble credit card in 12 months to improve my cash flow.
For example, your interest-free period ends in 12 months. To pay it off in 12 months, you need to make $150 per month in payments. You already have $40 budgeted for paying down the card, so now you need to come up with an extra $110 per month to pay down that card.
Go back to your budget. Can you save $20 per month by switch phone carriers or downgrading your internet just a little? Great! Now you need to find $90 a month.
It sounds cliche, but switching your car insurance can save you hundreds of dollars a month. If you don't have a car, do you buy coffee on your way to work? Even if your coffee is only $2.75 per day, if you buy it 20 times per month, you're spending an extra $55 a month that could be thrown at your credit card.
Now you just need to find an extra $35 in your budget. Do you spend $5 a day in the cafeteria at work? Brown bagging it only two days a week can save you that extra $35 you need to accomplish your goal. If you need help creating a budget or finding room in your budget to achieve your goals, contact a certified credit counselor to help you.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you're looking to end next year with less debt than you have now, a certified credit counselor can help you accomplish your financial goals. For more information on how to improve your financial future by setting SMART goals, saving for the future and paying off debt, contact us today. We will put together a personalized debt payoff plan so your money can start working for you.