How to Start the New Year Off Right Financially

new year's resolution | budgeting for beginners | how to start a budget 

This article was originally written for the audience at blissfulintent.com

Who doesn’t love the promise of a fresh new year to motivate you and re-energize your soul?
If you’re anything like me then you probably have a list full of great New Year’s resolutions and you’re just itching to get this new year started off right!

There are so many great ways to improve your life. It’s hard when you have a great New Year’s Resolution, so much enthusiasm about it, and then you don’t know where in the world to start! Well, if one of your resolutions is to get your budget in order and start the new year off right financially, then you’ve stumbled across the perfect article!

How to start the New Year off on the right financial foot:

1. Discover your why

The first, and foremost, important thing in any life changing effort is to figure out why you’re doing it. Why do you want your life to be different? Why do you need to change? What do you want your future to look like?
Once you figure out why you want to get your budget in order, then all you have to do is continue to focus on that reason. That reason is what will get you through the hardest days. You have to stay focused on the bigger picture and the ultimate outcome. Anytime you start to get discouraged just refocus on your why.

2. Get motivated

Now that you know why you want to change, you have to get pumped up about it!

Make a date with yourself and write out a few big goals for the year. Work backwards and break them down per month, then by week or by pay period. Think about where you want to be at this time next year and the steps you need to take to get there. Once you’ve written these goals down, consider them a binding contract with yourself! Tell your husband (obviously!), your friends, and anybody else that you know will hold you accountable.

Find some inspiration! Start pinning away on Pinterest, read lots of books and blogs, join some Facebook groups, and watch YouTube and Periscope videos. There are so many places to find inspiration when you really start to look for it.

Take an e-course. Sometimes we just need help in an area that isn’t our strong suit, and that’s okay! Sometimes it’s nice to have a friendly face giving you all of the inside scoop, and teaching you the shortcuts that they’ve learned through their own trial and error process.
This is why I’m so excited about my own e-course, Take Control of Your Budget, where I help women really get a handle on not only their budget, but also their mindset about money and how to stay motivated as well. Everything I teach in my course is what my husband and I have learned in our own debt free journey in which we paid off about $108,000 in debt, bought a used vehicle in cash, and saved up a 5 month emergency fund, in just about 2 years.

I’ve learned through my own journey that if you’re not in the right mindset then no amount of pretty spreadsheets are going to help you. You have to learn how to change, want to change, and then promise to change, before you can make any real progress.

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3. Create a written budget

Now that you’re in the right mindset and super motivated, let’s work on that budget!

You’ll want to make worksheets for Bills, Spending, Debt, and Savings.  
(Get a copy of my budgeting worksheets here!)

  • Bills (I have a separate checking account with a debit card attached.)

    • Write out all of your bills in the order they are due. Include a short description, an amount, and a due date.

    • Before payday sit down and determine which bills need to be paid and how much they total up to, then reassess on payday when you actually pay your bills..

  • Spending (I have a separate checking account with a debit card attached.)

    • After your bills are paid, determine how much you have left over for your “Spending Section”.

    • The Spending Section should include items like groceries, gas, restaurants, travel, clothing, and anything else that would be considered an extra.

  • Debt

    • Write out all of your debts from smallest to largest.

      • The idea here is to build momentum by eliminating as many debt items as possible, as quickly as possible.
      • Start throwing every extra dollar at your smallest debt (only pay the minimums on the larger items for now) until that smallest debt is gone, then move on to the second smallest, and so on.  

      • If you have debt, use your money leftover after your Bills and your Spending to pay off your debt as quickly as possible.

  • Savings
    • To backtrack for a quick minute…BEFORE you start to fully tackle your debt you should put into place a small amount of savings.

      • $500-$1,000 is recommended depending on your job stability, family size, and annual income.

      • This small savings is to ensure that you don’t go any further into debt when something unexpected arises.

    • AFTER your debt is paid off (except your home because that can take several years)...start to save your large savings amount.

      • 3-6 months of expenses

      • This is to ensure you’ll never have to go into debt again when an emergency comes up.

YES! My New Year's Resolution! How to get my budget under control | where to start with my budget | how to create a budget | budgeting for beginners

4. Stay motivated

Accomplishing a New Year’s resolution is no easy task! It takes lots of sacrifice and hard work. Sometimes you might get discouraged or even want to give up, that’s why it’s important to stay motivated!

In order to stay motivated you must always keep your “why” in mind, first and foremost. Take steps to work towards your financial goals every day. Use visuals such as your goals list, debt payoff charts, or search Pinterest and Google for more creative ideas. Remember to celebrate the small wins as you hit milestones along the way. Understand that time will pass one way or the other, and in 3 years you could be debt free or you could be right where you are now...it’s your choice. Lastly, don’t look at budgeting like a prison sentence or a punishment, it’s really just a journey.

If you focus on what you’re gaining, instead of what you’re giving up, and keep your mindset positive, then you can achieve any goal! (Read all of my tips for Staying Motivated here!)