As we approach the end of 2016 and get ready to enter the New Year, it’s a great time to make some resolutions concerning money management and financial health.

Review

If you have a desire to make 2017 better financially than last year, a great place to start is to review what worked and what didn’t work in 2016. This look back will help you be more successful next year, especially if you had a few hiccups financially that proved challenging to overcome.

If you had some financial missteps in 2016 that have caused you serious problems or kept you from attaining your goals, revisit them now to learn how to avoid the same pitfalls during the coming year. Past performance can often be a very good indicator of future performance. What did you do right? What mistakes did you make? You can then develop strategies for improved performance in 2017.

Budget

A common financial mistake is not having a budget so that you know where your money should be going. Another common related mistake is not tracking your spending so that you know where your money actually goes. If you look back at 2016 and really don’t know where you spent your money, this is a big concern going into 2017. Fortunately, there are many easy and free tools available online to help you create a budget and track your spending.

Don’t forget about any financial obligations that you have to meet in the upcoming year. A common trap is the “buy now and pay in 9 or 12 months” interest-free deals then forget about when the payments come due. These offers are tempting during the holidays, but it’s very easy to forget about what you owe and then get socked with payments at a high interest rate once the grace period is over. These payments can strain your budget and thwart your financial goals.

Set Goals

The three most important financial goals to review are:

  1. Retirement savings
  2. Emergency savings, and
  3. Debt-reduction goals

These three have the biggest impact on your overall financial well-being both in the short and longer term. Meeting these goals might require changing your holiday spending habits, changing vacation plans, or other changes to generate the extra money to meet these goals.

Track Spending

Once you have a budget and track your spending, you can often find money to help you meet your goals. Look at what you’re paying for entertainment and communication services like Internet, mobile phone, and cable or satellite TV. It’s easy to keep adding new services and not realize how much you’re spending. For example, it’s helpful to periodically revisit the mobile plan you’re on to see if it’s still meeting your needs. Now is the time to shop these services and start to trim spending as 2017 approaches.

Finally, as you make those New Year’s resolutions, keep in mind that one of the most overlooked expenses is the gym membership fee, which can be very pricey. Consider your habits. If you are an avid and regular fitness center user, then this expense is well worth it. But, if you visit the gym about as often as you visit the dentist, then this is an expense that you should consider cutting before 2017, regardless of your resolutions!

Hopefully, with some planning, discipline, and persistence, you’ll achieve your financial goals in 2017. The best time to start is now.

Have a healthy, happy, and prosperous year in 2017!

Bill Burke | President/CEO