As the New Year approaches, it’s a good idea to pause and reflect on how your finances looked in 2013. By reviewing your history now, you’ll be better equipped to determine how to allocate money and achieve goals in 2014.
Start by taking a careful look at your spending. If you don’t already keep a monthly budget, go ahead and create one from the past two to three months based on your statements. Did you spend more than you saved? Were there any categories you noticed you need to cut back on, such as eating out or entertainment? Did you have any impulsive purchases that you need to forego as you move forward? Or, perhaps you need to review any new debt you took on this year.
While everyone makes several money decisions each day, some financial items may have been out of your control this year. Maybe you experienced a financial hardship with a cut in pay, a job loss, a severe illness with high medical bills, divorce, or even the death of a family member. Although we can’t always predict hardships, we can do our best to prepare for them. As a hedge, you may want to consider saving money for an emergency fund in 2014.
Lastly, did you make time during the year for long-term financial planning or the development of a retirement strategy? If you already have a financial plan, did you review it to make sure it still fits your needs? If there are certain items you didn’t get to this year, the New Year is the perfect time to get started.
In the words of Confucius, “Study the past if you would define the future.” You may not be able to undo some of the financial decisions you made in 2013, but you can learn from those choices and make wiser decisions in the coming year!
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Categories: Debt Reduction, Finances, Spending