As much as I love the holidays and can find something wonderful about each month, I have to say I love January. I know many in the Midwest may think I am crazy because the weather is not conducive to much more than hibernating, but I love it for its slower pace and fresh start opportunities. So here we are. We are at the end of December, ready to usher in a new year. Reflect on that. In just a few short days, we will turn the calendar page to a whole new year. It will be 2023. Just as we have new opportunities each day for a fresh start and a new beginning to expunge anything that may have taken us off our game a bit whether that is overspending, overeating, or overindulging in any area, we also have a fantastic opportunity to embark on a new year filled with ample opportunities, dreams, and goals. How fantastic is that? See why it is probably my favorite month outside of September which is my wife and my daughter’s birthday month?
So, let’s take a step back and think about the past year. What was good and what are the areas where improvements can be and should be made? Moreover, we just celebrated the holidays which can blow many people’s budgets. This is a perfect starting point. Do you envision spending about the same amount? Hopefully you were at least keeping track of your spending. Do you think you will spend more or less? Adjust accordingly and put that on your projected spending budget and spread that amount over the next eleven months. Only factor in eleven months since you will need the money in December unless you start shopping earlier than that. You know your spending trends, so you will need to figure out the amount and the timespan according to your habits. I would be reasonable here. Hopefully you know what you just spent on all of the holiday festivities, so you need to budget at least that much for next year unless you decide that your spending was over-the-top or even reckless. If you kept your spending in check, however, add that to your yearly budget.
So, let’s move onto the yearly budget. Write down all of your bills. Don’t leave out a single thing. My free budget template will help you with this part of the process. Just committing to a budget every month is a great start but for true success you need to go deeper. The beginning of a whole new year is the time to think about where you want to be at the end of this new year. Reflect and think about what you want your future to look like? Time is your great ally if it is on your side so start NOW. It is never too late to get on a budget and to start saving and investing but I don’t want you to look back and this time next year and realize you have let another year of opportunities slip through your fingers. Just remember that compound interest is a powerful tool when coupled with time. Start sooner rather than later – but start.
Let’s think of time and the way to utilize it. First, think about your bills. Many will contend that you should pay off the smallest bills first which will give you a sense of accomplishment. But, keep in mind interest rates as well. You must make a plan to pay off credit cards and any revolving bank cards as the interest on those will strangle you. List all of the credit debt that you have and decide how much of your income is available to pay toward that debt. If you need help mapping out your debt payoff, my debt payoff calculator can help you figure out how long it will take to pay off each of your debts. Throw any extra money you can at your debts such as credit cards, car loans, and college debt. Get rid of them so you don’t continue to incur more debt. Promise yourself to stick to your budget and don’t waiver.
This will take willpower, but it will pay off in the long run. If possible, find ways to make extra money through overtime, side hustles, and even selling unused items. Readjust your lifestyle. Find ways to save money through things such as packing your lunch instead of eating out and not buying things impulsively and ONLY if totally necessary and after thinking about the purchase for at least twenty-four hours. Also, plan a weekly menu and buy only the groceries that you need to complete your menu. Even before that, use all of the items from your freezer and pantry before buying new grocery items. You may be amazed what you already have there and how far you can stretch your grocery budget IF you are focused on your plan.
Mostly your budget is all about thinking about what you want for yourself in 2023, 2024, and on. Do you want to be in debt or do you want to be debt-free and independent? There is something very liberating about not being owned by credit card companies and banks. It is even more exhilarating to own your own home, knowing nobody can take that away from you because you own it. Believe me, it is all worth the sacrifice. It may be a bit daunting at first, but it will eventually become second nature. You may even amaze yourself with how much money you have been wasting, how quickly you can pay down and off your debts, and how much you can even invest or put toward your goals. Don’t let fear or a feeling that you are not capable of creating and carrying out your plan cause you to do nothing. That is exactly the worst thing to do. If you are not sure where to start, reach out to me and let me help you and guide you along the way to your financial freedom. Make 2023 a wonderful year. Don’t wait. Now is the time before the clock strikes twelve and the new year rolls in.
Above all, I wish you and your families a year filled with much joy and prosperity. I want all of you to be happy and secure. Let me help you achieve your financial goals today, so your future will not only be bright but wonderful. Happy New Year from my family to yours!