PHOENIX — It’s the time of year when people resolve to change their lives, from getting in shape to improving relationships and achieving work-life balance.
Financial goals also top the list of New Year’s resolutions, and are easier to attain than you might think.
“It’s actually easy to cut expenses and save money — even a few dollars at a time — but many people give up too quickly,” said Mike Sullivan, a personal finance consultant with Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency. “The key is to set realistic goals, celebrate small victories and get creative with cost-cutting.”
Sullivan offers nine tips for sticking to financial resolutions in 2019.
• Budget: It tops the list of every financial to-do list for a reason: it works! Write down your monthly income and expenses or seek out an online program or budgeting app.
• Pay Yourself: Speaking of budgets, build in a line item for your savings account or emergency fund. Even $25 a month will make a difference over time.
• Join the Gig Economy: If your budget reveals that you need an income-boost, start earning extra cash by working for Lyft, Postmates or Uber Eats.
• Make Short-Term Goals: Instead of resolving to save thousands in 2019, aim to save $20, $50 or $100 a week or a month — and celebrate each small victory.
• Spring Cleaning — in January: Clean out your closets, the garage, and even old furniture or décor. Then, hold a yard sale or list your items on eBay, Craigslist, or OfferUp. Decluttering will save you money — and sanity.
• Sell Your Gift Cards: Trade your gift cards for cash at Cardpool or CardCash.com, and promptly put that cash into savings.
• Wait 24 Hours: To mitigate impulse buying, wait 24 hours before making an unplanned purchase. It’s likely the impulse will wear off.
• Drop Cable: It’s a monthly expense that can be replaced painlessly and inexpensively with Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
• Update your W4: While many of us look forward to a big tax refund, it’s better to adjust your withholding to ensure you’re paying the right amount of taxes. This may mean a few extra bucks on each paycheck.
For more financial tips and guidance, check out Take Charge America’s Financial Education Center or take its free online debt review.