Friday, January 4, 2013

A Look at Reality in the New Year

According to a Financial Resolutions study, 52% of Americans have “save more money” as their top financial resolution.  26% of us are in worse financial shape that we were at the beginning of 2012.  Now is the time to look at reality, and assess your situation.  Write down all of your outstanding bills, and also write down all of your sources of income.  This is your starting point for the year. 

Lots of us look to January as a fresh start to work on some of our goals.  While I may be able to lose a little weight, I’m probably not going to look like Jennifer Aniston.  It’s the same with our relationship with money.  What worries are keeping you up at night right now?  The Fiscal Cliff, credit card interest payments, the next rent payment, grocery money? 

Let’s first sort our concerns by:

·         WHAT CAN I CONTROL: I can control my discretionary spending (like groceries), and talk to the banks about lowering my credit card interest rate.  I can control my frustration level when I feel like every dollar I make goes right back out to the banks.

·         WHAT CAN I MANAGE: I can manage my anxiety by accepting that I don’t have a rich uncle leaving me piles of money to solve all my problems.  I can manage my bills easier by paying them online.

·         WHAT CAN I TRACK:  I can write down my income and expenses for the month to see where I stand.  I can review the taxes taken out of my paycheck – the only change, hopefully, is a 2% increase in Social Security withholding, according to the changes voted on this week. I can track my bank balance so I don’t get overdraft fees.

The bottom line is go ahead – write it down.  Look at your money situation.  Really understand your income and expenses.  Figure out what you can control, manage, and track.  Now set some goals that you can accomplish this month.  Now.  That’s the first step to taking control of your money.  Control is definitely your style – keep it going.