The Failsafe New Year’s Resolution for Household Finances

In case you haven’t noticed, Christmas is just over a three weeks away. That leaves less than a month until the New Year is upon us - and we all know what that means! A fresh start, new promises, big changes and a list of resolutions we didn’t tackle in 2015.  

It’s the same every year. You promise yourself you’re going to get your finances in order, spend less and budget wisely and for many, those New Year goals may just unfold the way you want it too. For the rest of us though, it takes much more discipline and a failsafe checklist. Here’s a few to get you started.

1. Start Laybys for 2016 Christmas Months in Advance

Regardless of whether you’re a big spender for the festive season or not, you can save yourself a significant amount of money by being organised. Let’s face it though, thinking about next year’s Christmas can be challenging when you’ve just got through this year’s – but it can take a lot of financial stress off down the track.

2015 Boxing Day sales are the perfect opportunity to pick up a bargain for a present idea. If you know you want to buy your special someone something big next year, it pays to start a layby for it early January – February. Not only does it cut down a lot of rushed shopping time for next year, the savings are definitely worth it.

2. Make Sure to Set Clear and Realistic Goals

There are two types of goal setting and both can make or break the chance of actually achieving them. If your goals aren’t realistic to your circumstances and income, how can you possibly expect to reach them? The art of writing goals that are well-defined and realistic ensures you have the best chance of making them happen.

For goals to be truly successful, it’s important you have a realistic time line too with a few action points on how you’re going to make it happen. For example; if your goal is to save $2,000 by Christmas 2015 you may want to write down how much you are prepared to take out of your pay each week, fortnight or month to complete the goal.

To help define your goals, separate them into different pillars. For example; you can have a few goals listed under personal life, fitness and health, personal finance, relationships and work, just to name a few. To make your goals as actionable as possible, prompt yourself with calendar reminders when action points are due and set small incentives and rewards for yourself for encouragement.

3. Get the Whole Family Involved

New Year resolutions work better when the whole family is involved and supporting one another. Whilst it’s definitely great to have your own personal goals and achievements, it can be great for motivation to include your spouse and children if they’re going to be affected by your goals.

By keeping the rest of the household in the loop, your loved ones may be able to help clarify your goals and motivate you to make any changes to achieve them. There will be times when it’s hard to make your goals happen, but by getting your family involved too it can ease you into it better.

4. Review Last Year... Honestly

Great goals tend to arise from past mistakes and lessons learnt. They put your future plans in light so you can reach your full potential and thus, its vital reviews are made. Circumstances are very quick to change, whether it’s a new job or you’re out of work for a month, an arrival of a baby or unexpected emergencies that can drain your savings account. By reviewing the last year, you’re able to be honest about anything that had (or that’s still having) an impact on your financial plans.

It’s crucial you’re honest with yourself for this part for your review to be effective. There’s no limit as to how many reviews you do of you goals, but be aware that as circumstances change it’s a good time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. In the lead up to the New Year, it’s the perfect time to really delve into an honest review of the last year and how your new goals can incorporate what you’ve learnt along the way.

5. De-Clutter Your Finance Filing System

Clutter is a big no-no when it comes to clear goals and future New Year resolutions. Let’s face it though, no matter how organised you are it’s very easy to slip into a finance mess of papers, receipts and bits and pieces that don’t have a home.

Heading into the New Year is the best time to start fresh and get your filing system in order. By clearing out the daily clutter in your life, you’re able to have a much clearer mind frame for those resolutions. In preparation, it can be ideal to take last year’s finance filing out of your immediate space and file it somewhere else safe. If you don’t need those documents for the New Year, why confuse yourself. Keep your immediate filing system with the documents currently in use.

6. Review Current Plans

Insurance plans and phone plans can eat away at your budget with hidden costs and charges that may not even be relevant to you and your situation anymore. Especially if you have your current plans linked to your credit card or make automated payments, it can be really easy to lose track any adjustments you could make to save money.

Take a close look at your health, car, life, mortgage and other insurance plans. What’s your coverage like? Is it still relevant to your current situation?  Are your dependents up to date or could you change your premiums after a review of your last year? Don’t rely on your insurance or phone companies to contact you asking for changes, take control and look for these things yourself as you can find it could save you a fortune.