This article is the second in a multi-part series on steps you can take right now to get your financial health in order. Resolutions are all about goals. If you goal is to get financially healthy in 2016, here are two things you can do right now to get you past the finish line.
People who are always looking to lose weight know the truth. The only real way to make the scale move is to eat less and exercise more. Period. There are no magic fixes because even if you lose weight quickly with a fad diet or exhaustive workout routine, the pounds will come back as soon as you revert back to your old ways.
So, in line with best practices for losing weight, the keys to taking control of your money involve a similar mindset. Simply put, the easiest way to get financially healthy is to spend less and save more.
OK, so you are on board, right? Great. Now you are asking, “How can I possibly succeed? It’s not rocket science, I get it. But I can’t seem to do it.”
The answer is baby steps. Slow and steady wins the financial health race — just as it does in the race to lose weight. Both saving, and spending less, require you to embrace the idea of a budget.
Not a fan of budgets? You probably aren’t a fan of diets, either. However, think of a budget like a diet plan — for your wallet. You read that right. When you approach spending and saving the way you think about eating dessert, it may make more sense.
Eating dessert, like going on a shopping binge, feels great…at the moment. And, then, you look at your scale (or your checkbook) and feel horrible. That’s because you are spending without really thinking about the consequences. When you save up for discretionary purchases, you can enjoy them more and feel better about making the payments, etc. You work hard and should get to enjoy the benefits of your labor. However, you have to pay your bills and yourself — in the form of savings — before you spend on things that you want, but may not need.
Spend Less: There are some fast ways to spend less that may make it easier to get started. When you eat out, don’t order dessert or appetizers. You may opt for water instead of a soft drink or coffee. Look for the smaller portions or check out Groupon, LivingSocial, your mailer coupons, etc., to save some money at your favorite restaurants. Of course, you can cut back and cook at home six nights a week and choose one night to go out. Watch TV instead of going to the movies or bowling or anyplace else where you’ll be spending money. Focus on the people you are with, not the activity.
Start Saving: At holiday time, when there are presents to buy and so much entertaining to do, it may be difficult to cut back on expenses. But, you can start to save a bit right away and increase your savings efforts after Jan. 1. Part of spending less automatically means saving more; if you buy a small coffee, for example, you’ll keep a few extra pennies in your pocket. Every little bit counts. Also, if your company offers direct deposit, consider taking a modest amount and putting it into a separate savings account. That money will be syphoned off without you having to do anything each week. Your nest egg will grow right under your nose.
If you find yourself in over your head in debt, you can contact Joel R. Spivack, Esq. He is a resourceful debt lawyer who will review your financial health and advise on ways to get you back on track. If bankruptcy is an appropriate solution for you, Mr. Spivack will put his more than 25 years of experience helping South Jersey residents navigate Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 successfully to work for you.