Why wait until the cold bleak months of December to make a New Year’s resolution? When summer hits, our moods brighten, our excitement heightens, and we’re more inclined to be active—physically or mentally. Summer is the best season for New Year’s resolutions because you have the warmth and sun to promote that connectedness between thought and action. We all know no one wants to think connectedness when we’re shivering and stuck inside.
Make this summer your most productive one yet by promoting a sense of excitement, accomplishment and momentum as you move into the autumn months to close out the year successfully. Then, when winter rolls around, you’ve already had six active and productive months behind you.
Money habits are often at the top of resolution lists. Many people are dissatisfied with their level of saving, uncontrolled spending, and inability to gain control over their money.
Following are 4 action items you should take to help you jump into your new mindset.
Resolution: Gain Control Over Your Money and Spending Decisions
Feeling out of control is unsettling and frustrating, and it’s easy to fall into this terrible state of mind when it comes to money. Many of us, because we don’t have time, shove money issues into the background of our lives, hoping they’ll eventually solve themselves. But, no more. After you make this summer’s New Year’s resolution, you will be on your way to better control and less frustration. Step by step, you’ll be able to control the aspects of your money life that usually feel the most difficult—but you want to start small and make manageable shifts in behavior.
To gain control of your money life:
- Track. Begin by tracking all your spending for one week. Every nickel, dime, and penny. Use your smartphone, a handy app, or a small notebook. Record every bill you pay and every expenditure you make with cash, check, and credit card. This exercise helps you know what you’re spending. As you monitor, ask yourself how important it is and what is driving your decision. Some programs that make this process easy and manageable are Mint.com, BillGuard, GoodBudget, Mvelopes, to name a few.
- Review. As you review where your money is going, consider whether there are alternatives that would bring you a greater level of satisfaction. Chances are, when you look at expenses like Life Insurance or other intangible expenses, you’re likely to have a lower level of satisfaction, unless you consider the reasons why you are making those commitments (i.e. the security of your loved ones).
- List. Everyone has an idea of what they value most. Create a list of your biggest items—financial security is usually somewhere higher on the list than, say, surfing the Great Barrier Reef. Not outliving your resources is typically higher than renting a private jet for a weekender in Paris. But your values are your values and they must resonate with what’s most important to you, and they must provide a sense of purpose and meaning. This will cause you to take the necessary actions.
- Divide and Conquer. Create what I call “The Fork In the Road” test for your spending. If the item is important, you go forward with your plan; if it’s less important than your big goals, divert those resources to an accumulation account to move you closer and closer to your overall financial success.
Gaining control over your spending is a great way to move from inertia to action—it’s also a great way to gain confidence. By resolving yourself to make this one change, you will take the necessary steps to get out of debt, curb frivolous spending, or accumulate resources that make your life happier.
Don’t wait for January 1 to make your New Year’s resolution. Start now, so on January 1st you can look back and feel the warm glow of summer and the great accomplishments you’ve already made. You can leave your January resolutions to things like cleaning out your closets and going to the gym.