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Believe it or not, 2019 is already here.
And a new year means new year’s resolutions.
It’s the perfect time to make some changes and start taking stock of your life.
For many of us, a new year means promises to make healthier decisions and be smarter with our money.
Financial new year’s resolutions
There’s no denying that the holidays are expensive, and for many of us, the holidays means overspending.
We often indulge more than we plan to, and so January is the perfect time to set some goals and undo some of the financial damage that happened in December.
Maybe you’ve never been the best when it comes to your financial responsibilities…But you really want to do better this year.
Hopefully, 2019 will be the year that you set some smart financial goals and crush them. Just don’t forget to:
- make or budget and review it,
- plan for any future spending or expenses,
- make sure your wallet is working for you, and
- consider following some of our tips to have a financially successful 2019.
Create and review your budget
Making – and sticking – to a budget is key.
You need to know how much money is coming in, as well as how much is going out.
You’ll need to take note of:
- how much you spend,
- how much you need to save, and
- how much debt you need to pay down.
Even if you already have a budget, you should revisit it.
You might need to adjust your spending, your savings, or even the amount of money you have coming in.
Guessing isn’t going to cut it here and in order to make a proper budget, you’ll really need to be as precise as you can be.
If you want to pay your debt down faster or save for a big expense, you’ll need to adjust your budget.
So, now is the time to make or revisit your budget.
Cut back on your smaller bills
One way to really help bring down your expenses is to take a closer look at your smaller bills.
Sometimes we don’t think about how those little things can add up, but if you took a few minutes to figure it out, you’d be pretty surprised.
Add up your daily on-the-go coffee and lunch, your streaming (read “binging”) service, the music app you can’t live without, the 2 other streaming services that you don’t really use, and all the other small bills that you pay without thinking, and you might want to rethink what you’re paying every month just to watch sitcom reruns.
Plus, with the rise in streaming services and paid accounts, sometimes it’s easy to forget what we’re actually paying for.
So, sit down and make a list of all your smaller expenses.
Do you have any automatic payments set up that you forgot about?
Hopefully, by making a detailed list you’ll be able to narrow down what you need, what you want, and what you can live without.
Reassess your bigger bills – mortgage, rent, and car payments
If thinking about your smaller bills has you feeling a little overwhelmed, trying to tackle some of your bigger bills might make you want to run for the hills.
But the new year is a perfect time to start thinking the big picture:
- Do you have a mortgage renewal coming up?
- Are you paying too much for rent?
- Will you finish paying off your car in 2019?
Staying on top of these things is crucial if you want to crush your financial goals in 2019
Run your everyday and emergency expenses like a boss
Your bills – big and small – are not the only expenses you need to consider.
Don’t forget to account for utilities, credit card or student loan bills, and be sure to set some funds aside for any emergencies that might come your way.
The last thing anyone wants is to be stuck in an emergency without some savings set aside to help out.
Plan for your future
Thinking about your future is an important part of any financial plan. Time flies and the future will be here before you know it.
If there are things you want to achieve, you’ll need to start working towards those goals now.
Do you want to take your dream trip this year? Or start saving up for a house or a car?
While you’re looking at your budget and your finances, be sure to set aside some money for these savings.
Automate your savings
One of the easiest ways to do this is to set up an automatic deposit to your savings account.
If you get paid every other Thursday night, set these deposits up so that they will come out of your account every other Friday morning, ensuring that it will be safely tucked away in your savings account before the weekend hits.
Just set it and forget it.
Invest for retirement
When talking about planning for the future, retirement is definitely something you should think about.
As Canadians, we work hard, and we deserve to be able to retire and not have to worry about finances.
And while it might feel like you’re too young to really start worrying about such things, the earlier you start to plan and save, the better.
Maybe you should even consider joining the FIRE (Financially Independent, Retire Early) movement – I mean, who doesn’t want to retire by the age of 40?
As part of your new year’s resolution, you should make an appointment with your financial advisor to start planning now.
Decide if homeownership is for you
If you want to own a home in the future, maybe now is the time you should start working on saving for your down payment.
Down payments are usually the biggest hurdle that you’ll have to face when thinking about buying a home. Usually running anywhere between 3.5% to 10% of the price of your future dream home, it can take years to save enough money.
But homeownership isn’t for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with renting.
There are pros and cons to both options, of course, and a quick google search will show you that there are arguments in favour of both, but you need to make your decision based on what is best for you:
- What are the renting and buying costs in your area?
- Do you plan on staying where you are for long?
- Is your job secure enough that you feel okay committing to a mortgage?
These are all things you need to consider when you decided what your “home goals” are.
Rate your wallet
If you’re going to make the most of 2019, your wallet should be working for you, not against you.
You could be:
- paying for fees that aren’t benefiting you,
- missing out on hundreds of dollars in rewards, or
- paying way more in interest than you need to be.
With the right insight into your wallet and the options that are out there, 2019 could be the year for you to turn your wallet around.
As it turns out, we have built a tool to help you do exactly that:
Take the quiz and find your perfect match.
Our Rate Your Wallet quiz will take your preferences, spending habits, and the cards you carry in your wallet, to tell you if your wallet is working for you, or what credit card could serve you better.
Related: Our Rate Your Wallet How-To Guide
Check on your credit score
If you really want to set smart financial goals this year, knowing your credit score is so important.
These 3 digits can have so much impact on your life, and you need to be sure that the choices you’re making aren’t having a negative effect on your credit.
There are many resources that you can use to check your credit score for free online, so be sure to sign up for one of those services so that 2019 will be the year that you pay even more attention to your credit score.
Tips for setting smart financial goals
There’s no denying that getting your finances on track isn’t always easy, but if you keep some of these tips in mind, hopefully you’ll get able to get goals and make 2019 a year full of financial wins.
Tip 1: Set achievable goals
If you want to set a goal you can keep, it’s good to be realistic.
If you’re making minimum wage, setting a goal to make a million dollars in 2019 (unless you have some magical money tree) is setting yourself up to fail.
You need to keep in mind that any kind of major financial change can take time.
So set attainable goals, and try not to get discouraged.
Tip 2: Learn from people’s experiences and mistakes
Books, blogs, and podcasts are a great way to take in tips and tricks for having your best financial year yet.
So many people have gone before you and know what works and what doesn’t.
Learn from their mistakes and experiences.
And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, hit the forums.
Reddit has a Canadian personal finance subreddit filled with people who could probably give you some tips and advice.
Share what you’re going through and maybe you’ll find some people who are in the same boat as you.
Please note: Any advice you get online needs to be taken with a grain of salt – bloggers and forum visitors can’t see your whole financial picture. And while these people could really help inspire you and give you tips you want to try, be sure to leave the real advice to the professionals.
Tip 3: Ask for help or seek advice if you need it
If you feel like you’re really in over your head, seek professional advice.
Whether you’re dealing with a lot of debt, or some money you’re not sure how to invest, getting advice from a professional could save you a lot of hardship in the long run.
Find someone you trust and who will have your best interest in mind.
If you really want to get serious about your finances in 2019, a professional will have the knowledge to set you on the right path.
Tip 4: Track your progress
Tracking your progress when you’re making any kind of change is so important.
Sometimes it’s easy to just assume the changes we are making are helping, but if you’re sacrificing in one area to make another one better, you might end up causing more damage.
It’s important to take a step back every now and then to really track your progress.
This will either:
- be an encouragement – sometimes it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come, or it will
- help you see that you need to change gears a little – sometimes a slight readjustment is all we need to really see the results we are looking for.
We would love to hear from you
Is 2019 the year that you have decided to set some smart financial goals and crush them?
Do you have any tips for our other readers?
Please let us know in the comments below.