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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.
The simple reason is that these short-term fixes often 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 tips to 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 Money, Health, And Relationship Habits
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.
HABIT #1 – Monitor 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 solution is a mouse click or download away.
Financial aggregators provide the ease of monitoring all accounts in a central location.
I fully recommend both of these services. They are both FREE to use – yes, please!
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.
• Help you catch suspicious activity early on and report it right away.
• 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!
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HABIT #2 – Budget Money.
What happens when 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.
Budgeting is a method of controlling expenses, where money is set aside for a particular purpose.
Essentially, you tell your money where to go.
This process is more than just knowing your take-home pay and an overview of your expenses.
It’s about making the difficult money decisions to help you meet (and even exceed) your financial goals.
It’s up to YOU to determine how strict your budget is, but the first step is getting one in place.
The simplest way for you to start budgeting is to list out your take-home pay and all your expenses.
Once that’s done, determine if your current spending is helping (or hurting) your finances. Are you operating at a profit or loss?
Then, it’s time to review and trim your expenses and set up certain dollar amounts for each category that’s pertinent to your life.
Each month, review the budget vs. actual expenses to determine if you’re on track.
(scroll to see more)
|Category||Monthly Budget Amount||Monthly Actual Amount||Monthly Net Income/(Loss)|
You may have noticed that there was a loss of $5.00 for the month. When you have those months, that’s not because you messed up, it’s because you’re HUMAN!
Hitting your budget (to the dollar) isn’t always the goal. As long as you’re using a budget and tracking your money, it’s going to set you up for financial success.
Ready to start budgeting your money?
The Budget & Tracking Spreadsheet will help you keep all your recordings in one place and make it a breeze to update your money inflows and outflows. Give it a try!
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HABIT #3 – Save More Money (a & b).
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.
$250/month may seem hefty, but consider the extras you pay each month that can be sidelined to help with your savings goals.
Apply the extra money however you see fit.
Here are a few ideas:
• Add to an emergency fund – 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
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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’re more interested in saving in a pre-tax account (at work) or a traditional IRA (at home), then increase your contributions 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’re in is a default setting.
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 Awesome Benefits!
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!
HABIT #4 – Travel An Extra 3 Miles Each Week – by foot.
As an estimation, this works out to being on your feet for an extra 15-20 minutes per day.
I will note that these “extra” miles are intentional and more than what you would typically do now.
Walk, jog, run, or just refuse to sit as often.
These extra steps will make an impact 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.
HABIT #5 – Cook More Meals At Home.
Here’s an option…reducing your household intake of “prepared food” by a third.
There’s a relatively painless way to achieve this.
Every 2 times you eat out, skip the 3rd outing. This means, for a given month, if you normally eat out 6 times, you would reduce it to 4 times.
As always, when eating at home, have a plan.
Make quick and yummy meals that can be ready in a short period of time.
My go-to is simple – chicken that gets cooked until it’s maillard and flavorful with garlic spinach. Done in 15 minutes.
Great Recipes: Simple Budget-Friendly Meals To Enjoy At Home
• DISCOVER •
If you are seeking to discover new healthy foods, try Thrive Market. It’s my latest obsession! Thrive Market is making a huge impact in making healthy goods accessible at wholesale prices.
Better yet, with every sign-up, Thrive will sponsor a low-income family for their own year-long subscription so they have access to healthy eating. Awesome!
HABIT #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.
Here are some ideas I’ve used:
|Sugary cereals||Oatmeal with cinnamon, almonds, and honey|
|Sugary drinks||Homemade smoothie with veggies and fruits|
|Regular chips||Homemade Kale chips, Popcorn|
|Regular pasta||Lentil pasta, Cauliflower gnocchi (Trader Joe's)|
|Rice||Cauliflower rice, Lentils, Quinoa|
|Candy bars||Low sugar protein bar (RXbar and Oatmega)|
HABIT #7 – Drink Veggies And Fruits.
If veggies and fruits don’t get you excited to eat them, then drink them.
Blend them into a nutritious smoothie.
Do you have a Magic Bullet, Ninja, or Vitamix?
For a versatile and reasonable option, I would choose the Ninja Blender. It’s under $100.
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.
• Water (or almond milk)
You can always add more fruits to make it more sweet and tasty.
Play around with the ingredients. You can’t really lose with drinking these types of smoothies!
HABIT #8 – Read More Words.
In other words, read books.
Cognitive health is just as important as physical health.
In the past, I’ve been super guilty about not reading enough.
That completely changed when I found a method of reading that fit my lifestyle – reading ebooks through OverDrive (this is a service that lets you borrow selections from your local library remotely).
Here are some of my top book selections:
• The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
• The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
• The Girl Before by JP Delaney
• The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer
• The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
• The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Except for the last two books, the rest of the books are suspenseful.
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’re seeking insight on how to be more present in your relationships, this will pertain to you!
HABIT #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’re keeping in touch more than you were.
These days, with social media, email, and video connectivity – excuses are futile.
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HABIT #10 – Fine-Tune Focus.
If you’re 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 ideas:
• Warm his/her bath towel up in the dryer in the cold of winter.
• Have them pick the show 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.
Also, 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 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.
Let’s Review: New, Improved Habits
There are many facets of life that can be improved upon.
Collectively, this list showcases ideas and goals that will set you on the path to conquering a better version of you.
MONEY | Monitor, track, budget, and save your money – set yourself on the path to conquer your financial goals!
HEALTH | Walk more, cook at home often, substitute more “good-for-you” foods, and read more books.
RELATIONSHIPS | Keep in touch the best way you can, focus on the happiness of your loved ones and strengthening that bond.
Read more about my mission HERE.
*As with all financial and investment decisions, consult a professional. Read disclaimer here.
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