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12 Calendar Money Habits

12 Calendar Money Habits

Every New Year is an opportunity to start fresh. Here are 12 steps you can take throughout the year to help ensure a prosperous year.

January: Create a spending plan

Start the year off right by reviewing your monthly take-home pay and spending habits from last year. Create a plan for your money so you spend with purpose. Try the 50/20/30 Rule.

50% of income to living essentials; mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, commuting to work.

20% of income to financial goals; savings, retirement plan contributions and debt reduction.

30% of income to personal spending; entertainment, shopping and vacations.

TIP: Make sure you create an emergency fund in your financial goals.

February: Revise

After you have taken your spending plan for a test drive, review what categories need adjustments.

TIP: Only revise your budget if you are consistently spending over what you have budgeted. Double check your motivation to make sure it’s a budget change and not a habit change you need.

March: Plan a reward

Now that you’re spending plan is set, identify your spending triggers. How do you stay motivated? Identify a reward system for sticking to your spending plan and meeting your savings goals every month. This could be taking that great hike with your friends, having people over to play board games, or buying that latte. Make sure your reward is consistent and only rewarded if you meet your goals.

TIP: If your reward is a monetary reward, make sure it’s included in your budget.

April: Spring cleaning

Similar to doing a spring cleaning in your home, it’s important to do the same with your finances. Review your bank statements and evaluate your 50/20/30 Rule. You might be surprised to find you are still putting $5 a month towards a subscription you no longer use or might be able to trim down spending in another area. By refreshing your bills you might find that you can put even more money towards savings.

TIP: Check your statements every month to make sure they align with your spending plan, but also for those pesky subscriptions you may have signed up for without realizing.

May: Plan a low cost summer trip

When summer rolls around, it’s easy to get caught up in weddings and vacation plans that might not be budgeted. Review the amount you allocated and determine if you have to give up something in your personal spending category. If you can’t afford it with the money you have, don’t do it. Instead plan a low cost vacation like camping or doing a staycation.

TIP: If you can’t make it work with the money you have budgeted, don’t try. You won’t be making any more money, so splurging is guaranteed to hurt another part of the budget, or put you in debt.

June: Review your progress

Although we’ve made it clear that you should be checking your spending plan to make sure you are on track. Halfway through the year is the best time to check on your savings goals and see how you are doing. Maybe you’ll have to modify to make them more realistic or maybe you’ll see that you are right on track. Either way it’s a good time to check your progress.

TIP: Don’t compare your progress to others. Check your progress by comparing it to your progress from the year before, or even from six months before.

July: Have some fun with it

If you’ve reassessed your financial goals and need to be saving more. Have some fun with it. There are many apps that can help you achieve savings goals. One of our favorites, Qapital which has different strategies you can use, for example, rounding up every purchase you make to the dollar and putting the extra into a savings account. If you don’t want to use an app, you can do it yourself. Round up your weekly expenses and deposit that amount towards one of your goals.

TIP: Make sure you research your money savings apps for validity before settling on one.

August: Start getting organized for taxes

If you are always frenzied when tax time comes around, use this time to get prepared. Organize your documents and make sure everything is ready during your summer downtime. When tax time does comes around, you’ll be happy you took the time to get organized so the process is less stressful.

TIP: If you’re not sure if you’re doing your taxes right, check online. There are many sources you can use to walk through the process.

September: Reassess your debt

Debt can feel very constricting. Check to see if you can afford to put any more of your financial goals to it. Even if you can only up your monthly payment by $5, every dollar counts. Set a date that you would like to have certain debt paid off and see what it will take to get you there.

TIP: Using an online debt calculator can help show how much money you will save by paying off your debt earlier or by paying more monthly.

October: Review retirement plans

You hear this all the time but it’s true, it’s never too early to start saving for retirement. If you are not currently saving, now is the time to explore your options and see if you can start now. If not now, set a date in the near future to start, perhaps after a pay raise. If you are already saving, review your statement and check your investment allocation.

TIP: Taking a loan from your retirement plan may seem like a good idea, but it is usually the worst idea. You pay it back with after-tax dollars and then pay tax again when you retire - a BIG double tax hit.

November: Plan a holiday budget

The holidays are notorious for draining your money. Put together a holiday budget at the beginning of November and stick to it. A really good idea is avoiding credit cards during the holidays. By not racking up an outrageous credit card bill during the holidays, you’ll start your new year much better off.

TIP: Start your gift shopping early and plan out each gift and its cost. Take advantage of deals and stay on track with your budget.

December: Figure out your money goals for next year

It’s the end of the year, celebrate your successes and review your spending struggles. If you get into the habit of holding yourself accountable, you’ll find it much easier to meet those goals and stay within your budget in the future.

TIP: If you having difficulty holding yourself accountable, get a family/friend involved who can help you stay on track.

 

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