The New Year is a time of renewal; the time when we reflect on what went right, but also a time to reflect on what we could have done differently. But if we take a minute to be truly honest with ourselves, by month three we can begin to lose our momentum and sometimes revert back to some of the old habits that kept us stuck in the same place. Now that we are almost past the first quarter of year and we have a good idea of where we stand, we can use BankMobile’s Best You Yet experience as the unofficial New Year Do Over to re-energize our goals and pump some life back into our momentum. The following are eight action steps to help guide you towards being the best that you can possibly be this year.
Take the Pledge
The conversations you have with yourself are the most important conversations you can possibly have. Tell yourself good things, and then good things will undoubtedly happen. Tell yourself bad things, and then, well, you know… As you are journeying through life, make sure that you are constantly telling yourself how great you are, how happy you are, and that you are accomplishing your goals on the path towards being the best you! The more you whisper sweet nothings in your own ear, the more you will begin to live in bliss. Remove the habit of being hard on yourself as soon as possible. It does nothing to lift your spirits and has a negative long-term effect on your self-esteem. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are AWESOME!! Then, take the Best You Yet pledge to affirm why you are committed to becoming the best version of yourself!
Use Technology to Manage Your Finances
Those who fail to plan also plan to fail. Using technology to better manage your finances can tell you in a heartbeat whether you are spending too much money on Ubers, or if you can afford to pay off more of your credit card bills. For example, BankMobile’s built-in money management tools can help you track your spending, set up budgets, monitor your cash flow, and view your spending history. Technology can also make it easier for you to invest and grow your money. However, if app- or web-based technology feels a little intimidating at first, we created a simple Budget Worksheet, to help you set your money on the right track, and Daily Spending Journal, for you to inspect your money habits, that you can download and use. (After signing the Best You Yet pledge, you’ll gain access to these helpful tools, and others mentioned below, for free in the Best You Yet Starter Kit.)
Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals
If you don’t know where you are going, then it is going to be very difficult to get there. Now is the time to say enough is enough. No more just being satisfied with intentions, instead you have to create a plan that will help you execute on your goals. In order to do so, your goals must be clear and concise. It’s not enough to say, “I want to manage my money better this year or I want to start saving more.” Instead, your financial goals (and goals in general) should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). So instead of “I will pay down debt,” you will say “I will pay down my debt of $15,000 in 2017 by paying off $625 every two weeks when I get my paycheck.” We created a S.M.A.R.T. Financial Goals Worksheet (also included in the Best You Yet Starter Kit) to help guide you on how to get EXACTLY where you want to go.
Take Control of Your Debt
Credit controls more than your ability to borrow money, it also affects many other aspects of your life. Reducing debt is a great practice to do all year round, but understanding how your credit works and how certain debt affects you is vital to getting a good handle on your credit. First, start with our Credit Cheat Sheet to help you know where you stand. Secondly, consider snowballing your debt by paying off your lower balance debts until you pay off all. Lastly, get a handle on your student loans by using our Student Loan Cheat Sheet, which will give you the guidance you need to take control of your student loan situation!
Having less debt obligations is important because not only are there uncertainties with the job market, but you want to reduce the amount of money you owe to other people to assure that you can weather any storm. When you have fewer financial obligations to others, you are far more likely to be able to handle unexpected expenses.
Increase Your Knowledge
Change is the only thing that is certain in life (well, that and taxes). As change happens, you want to make sure that you are keeping up with it. This is done by increasing your knowledge—not only with traditional education, but self-education as well. Reading a new finance or business book each month is a great place to start. One great suggestion in that realm is Why Can’t Banks be as Easy as Uber, written by the Co-Founders of BankMobile (shameless plug).
Another great place to start is by taking online courses at Udemy.com. With over 45,000 courses, Udemy is the world’s largest destination for online courses and you can be one of over 14 million expanding their horizons daily. From Web Development to Personal Development courses (and everything in between), Udemy has a course that will help you maximize your full potential.
Pay Yourself First
Paying yourself first, which simply means to save money in a savings account prior to paying any bills, is not only a great way to be the best you, but it can also help you achieve many of your clear and concise financial goals (see #3). This also ensures that you have a cushion available to take care of your everyday needs in case of a financial emergency. Do this by saving at least 10% of your income every time you get paid.
Start Your Side-Hustle
Many of you have been putting your passion projects off for way too long. Let NOW be the time that you make your side-hustle a reality. Technology has made it convenient for you to start a business successfully without disrupting your current source of income, so make sure you create a plan that will allow your passion to finally bloom.
Pay it Forward
The late Muhammad Ali once said, “The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth,” and while you likely have things you would like to improve in your life, you are still very much blessed. A great way to show gratitude for your blessings is to be a blessing to others. This year, make a conscious effort to give back to those who are less fortunate. It can be by donating your time to feed the homeless or donating to a good cause. It can even be as simple as anonymously paying for the customer that’s in front of you in line. There is magic in being of service and you’ll be surprised at how much good will come back to you when you start to give back. Looking for a great way to start? Share the Best You Yet experience with your friends and family, so that they can become the best that they can be right along with you.
The views and opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of BankMobile. The blogs are intended as general financial knowledge that may or may not be applicable to your individual needs. Always contact your accountant for tax advice.
All company/product/service mentions in this post are not intended as an endorsement and the views of that company do not represent the views of BankMobile or Customers Bank.