By Dr. Daniel B. Prescott, Jr
2017 is now a little more than a month old. While a few of your New Year’s resolutions may have already fallen by the wayside (or maybe not), there is still plenty of time left this year to get your own financial house in order.
Perhaps you’re used to juggling bills, making every effort to pay just ahead of the deadline and often have little money left over for eating out or catching a movie. We understand that times can be tough every now and again. For some folks, this reality never changes. But in the spirit of new beginnings, the organization I represent—Transformance, Inc.–would like to share a few small behavioral changes that might add up to a real difference in your lives.
First, if you have a household budget, stick to it at all costs. If you don’t have a household budget, that’s problem number one. You can’t expect to get your financial house in order if you have no plan to begin with. Budgeting consists of listing out your income against your regular debts and payments. What’s left over should become savings. Put this amount in a separate bank account and forget about it. In just a few short months, you’ll have a balance you can be proud of. You must also review your budget at the end of each month. Keep all of your receipts and find out where and why your money is being “frittered” away and take steps to eliminate waste.
Find new ways to cut monthly bills and save money. Negotiate with your common service providers, such as cellphone and cable TV, for a lower monthly rate. Shop for cheaper insurance rates for your auto or home. Often times these providers will readily agree, with no change in service. Take the difference and begin depositing it in your new savings account. Even $20 a month becomes $240 in one year.
If you have credit card debt, you need to take it seriously. Ignoring and missing payments can have serious consequences on your credit score for years to come. If you don’t think it means much now, wait until you’re ready to buy a newer car or even transition from an apartment to a home of your own. If you’ve gotten off track, get back on track. Contact each of your creditors and work out a payment plan for any back payments due. Then negotiate a completely reasonable amount that you can afford for your monthly payment. Then pay them on time, every time, going forward. Progress on your debt may seem slow at first, but you will be in a better financial position within months.
Stay frugal. In the near-term, forget about buying new clothes, eating out often (even fast food) and perhaps even look into generating some additional income for yourself. Commit to these behaviors for six months, then take a look back at the progress you’ve made and the money you’ve now saved. Keep adding these amounts to your new savings account. It takes both time and patience to get one’s financial house in order. Commit to doing the steps necessary the same way you would approach dieting or exercise. And if you need a helping hand, Transformance can assist you. Our nonprofit has programs which can help you achieve everything we’ve just covered and we’re just a phone call away at 1 (800) 249-2227.
The commitment to getting your financial house in order has to come from within. Let’s finally make it happen.