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New year, new you.
Naturally, when we start a new year it gives us the vigor to start anew.
The reality is that the majority of resolutions are abandoned by February for the simple reason that they often lead to short-term fixes in areas that need long-term actionable changes.
Do you want ideas on how you can achieve better standing with your money, health, and relationships?
Today, I will offer you 10 life-changing suggestions which can help you set and achieve your #goals in these major areas of your life.
Remember, the route to victory with every goal is to consistently work at it, increasing the likelihood that long-lasting habits are created.
Are you ready to make life-changing decisions?
10 Life-Changing Habits For The New Year
Money is a large factor in our lives.
Work on developing the habits that will put you in control of your money. This will have a profound impact on your life and will truly be life-changing. At any rate, the level of effort that is placed in this area will pay you back in “dividends” for the future.
#1 – Monitor your money.
What would you say to…
–all your accounts being in one place to be viewed anytime you please? Sounds good!
–the option to download any category of transaction to run the numbers. Yes!
–an analytical interface that provides tools to monitor and track your investments. Sweet!
Your money tracking and monitoring solution is a mouse click or download away.
There are several financial aggregators out there to choose from, providing for the ease of monitoring all accounts in a central location.
Here is what tracking and monitoring your money is going to do for you:
- Motivate you to continue on the path of saving and investing to build wealth
- Enable you to catch suspicious activity early on and report it right away – BIG ONE!
- Allow you to view relevant data without logging into each and every account
- Pay bills, track expenses, budget money – if you choose to use those functions
Start tracking your financial health and you will wonder why you didn’t start sooner!
#2 – Budget your money.
What happens whenever you indulge too much and neglect your health?
You only start noticing when your joints start to ache, your pants fit too snugly, and your skin complexion starts looking dull.
Ohhhhh, have I been there…
The same applies to money spent frivolously and mindlessly.
There is less money to distribute to savings, bills start becoming excessive, and there are more money worries overall. Oy, vey!
Much like the need to have a healthful diet, a “money diet” is needed to keep those dollar bills in check.
The hard-earned money that you work those long hours every, single week to pay for your lifestyle deserves to be tended to.
–Know your take-home pay.
–Get familiar with your monthly, annual, bi-annual, and one-off expenses.
Stop the hemorrhaging and start tracking your money.
Budgets don’t have to be boring and lackluster.
The use of an Excel spreadsheet makes it SO simple. It is my go-to in order to track my monthly and yearly expenses. It also provides an easy way to reconcile my accounts each and every month. It takes up to 30 minutes a week once you get the hang of it.
I gave my budget spreadsheet a facelift to share it with you. It will make you want to start budgeting. YES, I believe in it that much.
Get instant access by signing up below and start using it today OR learn more about it here!
What you get:
- Yearly Budget tab – make a few entries, everything else pulls from the monthly sheets
- 12 Monthly tabs – make your entries using receipts, credit card statements, financial app, and so on
- Example + Instruction tabs
- Grasp of your financial well-being – intangible benefit
Instant Access To Your New Budget & Tracking Spreadsheet
#3 – Save more money (a…b…c…)
3a. After-tax saving
Now that you have a handle on the tracking and budgeting options, take inventory and determine if you can save a little bit more this year.
Just a little bit…
Here’s an example of saving 5% more after-tax:
Take a look at your monthly after-tax income (take-home pay) and determine what percentage you currently save.
If you haven’t calculated percentages in a while, see below:
In this case…
money saved is $1,250
money earned of $5,000
which equals .25 or 25%
Add five percent.
(.25 + .05 = .30 or 30%)
Multiply this new percentage (.30) to your monthly after-tax income, in this case, $5,000.
If you were to increase your after-tax savings rate from .25 to .30, that equates to an extra $250 a month. This translates to an additional $3,000 a year saved.
Apply this money however you see fit.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Add to an emergency fund (3-6 month’s worth of expenses) – Be ready for life’s uncertainties!
- Invest in a low-fee index fund – Growth vehicle
- Eventual large purchase (home fund, car fund, auxiliary fund) – Plan for future life events
This $250/month may seem hefty, but consider the extras you pay each month that can be sidelined to help with your savings goals.
- 3 Impactful Reasons To Prioritize Saving Money
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- 14 Frugal Living Tips To Save Money
3b. Pre-tax saving
Are you paying attention to the percentage you contribute to your employer’s 401k? If they match you dollar for dollar on 3%, you would want to contribute at least 3% to get that free money. FREE MONEY.
If you are more interested in saving in a pre-tax account at your work or your traditional IRA, then increase your contributions that are going to those accounts.
It’s super simple to do that for your 401k. Log into your account and go to the “Contributions” tab. There, you will be able to see how much you currently contribute and make the changes.
You will also be able to see what you are currently invested in. If you haven’t made any changes previously, the plan you are in is a default.
For instance, the times I have started a new job, the contribution amount would be set at a certain percentage (sometimes meeting the match, sometimes not) AND the investment would be allocated 100% to a target* fund, similar to Target Fund 2050.
I always change the allocation to a low-fee index fund and increase the contribution to get the free money. Investing in a higher percentage of stock funds is my method of operation since I am 30+ years from accessing my employer-based accounts.
*A target fund is a mutual fund that automatically adjusts the asset allocation to be more conservative as you near traditional retirement age. Essentially, moving from more stocks to more bonds as you get older. It also generally comes with a hefty expense ratio because it is actively managed.
Another option for pre-tax saving is contributing to an HSA…Read more about it here: Health Savings Account – The Benefits
3c. Trim – expense management
Trim Savings – a “personal finance assistant” is handy because it congregates all your subscriptions and lets you decide if you want to cancel the services AND they will do it for you.Here are some other features:
- Spending alerts
- Balance info
- Uber spending
- Link Visa card for discounts
- If you use Comcast, they will negotiate your bill for ya
Staying on track with a health regimen can oftentimes be a grind.
It seems as though there are not enough hours in the day to get that workout in. Well, you’re in luck because you don’t have to carve out one span of time in your day to make mindful health-related decisions. I’ll share why!
#4 – Travel an extra 3 miles each week – by foot.
That’s right, by foot.
It sounds like a lot, but 3 miles is actually quite easy to achieve, especially if you spread it out across the week.
As an estimation, this works out to being on your feet for an extra 15-20 minutes per day. Spread that across each day, and this is a readily attainable goal.
I will note that these “extra” miles are intentional and more than what you would typically do now.
Let’s say you have a job where you already walk back and forth from the printer (funny, huh), you will want to add more walking in on top of that to get the added benefits.
Walk, jog, run, or just refuse to sit as often.
These extra steps will make a huge impact for you, and you will see a noticeable increase in your energy levels!
Ideas for achieving this include taking an evening walk to the end of the neighborhood and back or even walking in place for the duration of your favorite show.
A pedometer (or similar phone app) can help you get a more accurate measurement of your progress.
What if I told you I saw my greatest weight loss from just walking and watching what I ate? Trust me, losing weight does not have to be an all-out sweat session.
#5 – Cook more food at home.
Here’s an option…reducing your household intake of prepared food by a third.
There is a very easy, relatively painless way to achieve this. Every third time you want to eat out or buy a coffee or donut, restrain yourself.
You’re not quitting “cold turkey”, and still get to enjoy your outings 2 out of every 3 times.
To make this even easier, have a plan for what you will do to replace these items. Have a nice coffee, snack, or meal at home ready to make! Your belly won’t feel deprived, and your wallet will thank you!
Great Recipes: Simple Budget-Friendly Meals To Enjoy At Home
#6 – Trim the fat.
Choose 2 items you eat regularly and replace them with something better.
Now I’m not suggesting that you trade in your potato chips for carrot sticks because we want this to last longer than a week. Simply find better but similar options for a few of your biggest offenders.
Trade your sugary cereal for a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and almonds – sweetened with raw honey or agave. Switch your soda to lemon water/spritzer. Regular chips to kale chips…and so on.
You’re not actually giving up any amount of food, and the replacements are near enough to the original as to still be satisfying.
#7 – Drink your veggies and fruits.
If veggies and fruits don’t get you excited to eat them, then drink them.
How? Blend them into a nutritious smoothie. It’s super easy. Do you have a Magic Bullet, Ninja, Vitamix – if not, you can find a fairly reasonable option here – NutriBullet Blender. I would wait for a sale on this one – at the time of this post, it was 50% off.
I blend a smoothie almost every weekday and have done it for years. There are times when I go without for a few days and I can tell because it reflects in the clarity of my skin.
Here’s my main smoothie recipe:
(Yield 1 tall cup)
- Kale x 2 leaves
- Banana x 1
- Frozen blueberries or strawberries x 1/2 cup
- Fennel x 1 small handful
- Ground Flax x 1 tbsp.
- Chia seeds x 1 tbsp.
You can always add more fruits to make it more sweet and tasty. Play around with it because you can’t really lose with drinking these types of smoothies!
#8 – Pull in the lumbar.
Say what? Yes, pull in your lumbar to improve your posture. In other words, sit up straighter. You will notice that in doing so, your lower back is pulled to the front.
The easy way to tell if you need to is to simply raise the elevation of your head while sitting. If you are able to do this, then your lower back was slouched.
Try to consciously catch yourself slouching 5 times per day and train yourself to have better posture.
An added benefit to this is that the good posture will almost immediately fill you with a feeling of alertness and confidence. These are definitely good traits to be known for at the office, aren’t they?
Relationships in life can sometimes be put to the wayside because it’s so much easier to go with the status quo.
This can mean taking life’s meaningful relationships for granted. If you are seeking insight on how to be more present in your relationships, this will pertain to you!
#9 – Maintain contact.
At the end of the year, we often look back with regret at all the missed opportunities to interact with certain people.
Where did the year go? Maybe the last time you saw your brother was at Thanksgiving last year. Could it be that you don’t respond to your Dad’s goofy joke texts?
Either way, build your lagging relationships with a plan.
Set reminders for who you will contact and when. It may just be one day out of the month or twice per week, but the point is that you are keeping in touch more than you were.
These days, with social media, email, and video connectivity – excuses are futile.
Additionally, it helps when the communication is more than superficial. I have a contact that is very close to me that only talks about the superficial nature of things. I have to push this person to ask deeper questions and have more meaningful conversations. Maybe it’s just me, but when I talk to someone who I care about I want to know more than what they ate for breakfast that day.
#10 – Fine-tune your focus.
If you are married or in a relationship, it goes without saying that the happiness of your significant other is one of your top priorities.
You both know it, and you say it often enough, but try to be more intentional about how you show it. It’s easy to get into a routine after several years together, so this is when the little things make a big impact.
Remember, it’s the thought that counts.
Here are some options:
Warm her bath towel up in the dryer in the cold of winter, tell him to pick the show you will watch and then have a positive conversation about it later, let the other person sleep in after the alarm while you get up and make breakfast.
Try to find at least 2 nice, thoughtful things each week that you can do to reaffirm your love. This can help you redirect your mindset away from “me” and back to “us”.
Also, if you are looking for a good read in this area, refer to “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.
Happy New Year, New You!
There are many facets of life which can be improved upon.
For me, I find money, health, and relationships to be among the most important. Collectively, this list showcases ideas and goals that will set you on the path to conquering a better version of you. Let’s review…
Money – monitor, track, budget, save – set yourself on the path to living a redefined life
Health – walk more, eat out less, substitute more “good-for-you” foods, and work on your posture
Relationships – keep in touch the best way you can and focus on the happiness of your loved ones and strengthening that bond
Happy New Year, make 2018 your best one yet! Catch me next year as I continue writing about money and lifestyle – all while “trying” to help everyone live their redefined lives.
Lastly, send me a note of what you would like to see more of…!
Read more about my mission HERE.
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What habits are you seeking to work on this coming year? Please share your stories and comments below.