Ah, January. The time for New Year’s resolutions. But how well did your resolutions turn out last year? Or the year before that? Or the year before that? You get my point. We all like the idea of a clean slate, a fresh start and that’s what a new year gives us. But our resolutions often fail because we approach them the wrong way.
Let’s try something new for January 2020. You know the old saying about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Rather than using January to set goals, let’s instead use it to review the prior year and get organized for the year ahead.
For most of us, January is a time to look forward but there is also much value in looking back. What goals did you accomplish? What goals did you fall short of? Do you want to bring any of those failed goals into the New Year? If so, it will be helpful to look back and examine what stopped you from achieving those goals. It’s also helpful to look back at the goals you did achieve and examine what actions you took that helped you reach them. Can you apply any of those steps to your current goals?
Sometimes we fail to reach a goal due to lack of organization. This can be especially true of financial goals. While our finances don’t have to be complicated, they do often have several moving parts. If you want to start investing, you need to know how much money you can afford to invest every month. To know that, you need a budget. In order to budget, you need to set up a Mint or You Need a Budget account or whatever budgeting software or system you prefer.
In order to create a budgeting account, you need to have all the usernames and passwords to your various financial accounts. Well, those are scattered on various bits of paper some of which are in your desk at home and some in your desk at work. You never find all of the account information, so you never set up a budget and you never get around to opening an investment account.
We all have good intentions, but we’re often pulled in so many different directions that we just never get around to what we had every intention of doing. Therefore, I’m proposing that you set aside one day, just one but a full day, to create your financial command center. This command center is the first step you’ll take to pursuing and achieving financial independence.
What is in your financial command center?
- Usernames and passwords to all financial accounts such as credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts, or budgeting programs
- Significant financial dates like due dates for all monthly expenses and contributions, tax dates, et cetra
- Location, physical and online, of all financial accounts
- Name and contact information for those relevant to your finances, attorney, accountant, CFP®, et cetra
- A list and timeline for short, medium, and long-term goals complete with the steps needed to pursue each goal
- Digital copies of important financial documents including insurance policies, wills, et cetra
Obviously, you need to keep all this very sensitive information in a secure location and make sure that your next of kin can access it too if something happens to you. Now you have everything you need to successfully manage your finances in one convenient location. No running around trying to find the information you need to create a budget or do your taxes or open an IRA.
When any area of your life is organized, it makes it easier to deal with which means you’re more likely to deal with it. Finances are no exception. A day is not a lot of time to invest in order to make handling your finances if not exactly pleasant, at least not completely frustrating and aggravating.
There’s No Time Like the Present, Especially When the Present is January!
This article is about money, but the advice can be applied to any area of your life that you want to take control of. We can’t meet our goals unless we reflect on our past behaviors and we can’t meet our goals unless we organize the tools needed to achieve them.
January 1st is not so different from any other date on the calendar, but it does give us the little boost we need to work on an aspect of our life that we want to do better in or to try something new. Nothing wrong with that at all! Find motivation where you can and use it to your advantage. But you can help that motivation along when you reflect and organize.
We wish everyone much success with their 2020 goals; financial and otherwise. Happy New Year!
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.