We’re closing in on the end of the first month of the new year. So it’s a good time to circle back around and check in on our new year’s resolutions. Have any of them stuck? January is great time to assess our goals and plans. Whether your plans are large scale (like going on vacation or getting a new fiberglass pool in your backyard by summer,) or small scale (like stashing away enough money each month to get some new lounge chairs for the patio by Spring,) minding your pennies now can add up to a big deal later. The secret is in keeping track.
None of us really likes to document what we do every day, whether it’s how many cups of coffee we drink, how many cookies we’ve eaten, or how much money we spent on things that weren’t in our budget. But accountability is key to staying on target with any goal you’re working toward. If you want to end up with more money at the end of the month, you need to know where your money goes every minute of every day. You’ll be surprised at how much you can actually hold onto if you track it.
Mint.com is a great site for managing your day-to-day finances, and there’s an easy to use mobile app for managing your money on the go. There are also investment tips and analyses of the best bets for interest-free credit cards, banks and IRA rollovers.
If that’s too high tech for your taste, you can at least get a good idea of where and how you’re spending your hard-earned dough by reading your credit card statement thoroughly at the end of the month. Most of them at least break down your expenditures by category.
Remember that cash can be a friend or an enemy. If you’re in a good habit of spending only what you have, that’s great. But taking cash out of the ATM just to have some “walking around” money can get you into trouble. If, at the end of the day, your pockets are empty, you might not even be able to remember what you spent it on.
So, would you rather have a week’s worth of nothing you can remember? Or would you like to have a lifetime of memories with something wonderful for your family, like a new backyard oasis with an amazing, new fiberglass pool?
The choice is yours. Resolve to spend it wisely.