Goodbye 2020, hello 2021! Many people will be setting goals to spend less, pay down debt or save more for the future. Making these New Year's resolutions is easy—it's sticking to them that's hard!
If you want your financial resolutions to last, research shows that it's better to focus on building new habits. Unlike resolutions, habits are action-based. Over time, these small actions become a part of your routine and lead to lasting change.
What new money habits do you want to bring into the new year? Here are a few simple actions you can take today:
#1: Make time for your money
Tracking your spending is one of the first steps toward managing your money with confidence. Make it a habit to sit down and review your spending at least once a week. Use a notebook, spreadsheet or online service like Wright-Patt Credit Union's (WPCU) Money Management to categorize your expenses and identify room for change. Getting a better understanding of your spending will help you make an effective budget and keep your expenses within your means.
#2: Plan your purchases
Impulse buying might feel good in the moment, but too many unplanned purchases can take a toll on your wallet. Keep impulse shopping at bay by planning every purchase, from groceries to gas to gifts. When you make a list and stick to it, you'll avoid picking up items you don't really need. For larger, non-essential items, try to wait at least three days before making a purchase decision. Getting in the habit of waiting to buy the things you want will help you save money and stay ahead of debt.
#3: Save first, early and often
Do you have a New Year's resolution to grow your savings? If so, consider getting into the habit of paying yourself first. This means putting a portion of your income into your savings account as soon as you get your paycheck, then using the rest for bills and expenses. When you pay yourself first, you'll cut back on unnecessary expenses naturally and ensure your savings goals are met. Make it easy to pay yourself first by setting up automatic transfers using WPCU's Mobile and Online Banking.
#4: Borrow smarter
Reducing debt is a key part of the journey toward financial flexibility and freedom. If one of your resolutions is to borrow smarter and make a dent in your current debt, WPCU is here to help. A good place to start is by filling out our helpful Debt Inventory Worksheet. List out all your debts, due dates and amounts to get a clear snapshot of where you stand. Using a debt payoff calculator can help you determine what it will take to pay off your debt. From there, choose a debt repayment plan that fits within your budget and make on-time payments a consistent habit.
#5: Keep learning
It's never too late to learn about your finances. In fact, financial education is a lifelong journey! That's why WPCU provides free tools, tips and resources to help you learn a lot and become more financially savvy. Explore our helpful videos, financial worksheets, Facebook livestreams and interactive learning modules on a variety of financial education topics.