As the New Year approaches, it is time to set some serious goals. The last few years have been difficult. It has been difficult for new graduates to find jobs, and many people are stretching their paychecks as inflation has risen, but salaries may not have risen to match the expectations. If you are ready to make some changes in 2013, you need to form a solid plan and look at each aspect of your financial life. Although each change you make may be small, together several changes can really impact your financial outlook for the next year.
The first thing you need to consider is overall financial pictures. Do you have any outstanding debt, particularly credit card debt or car loans that you want to clear up? It is also important to look at your assets. You want to be building your savings and your retirement. It may be the year you want to purchase your first home or make another significant life change such as getting married or having a child. All of these goals will impact or can be impacted by the current state of your finances.
Career goals are an important part of your financial goals. If you are happy at your current position and it provides a good income that allows you to meet your needs, you may be content to stay where you are for now. It is important that you stay active in professional organizations and that you understand the changes in technology and theory that may affect your job. It never hurts to stay on top of your career field in the event that the perfect job pops up or that your company dynamic changes for some reason. If you are wanting to change your career or find a position that pays you better you should make a plan that will help you reach your goals. Do you need to get additional training or certifications? Will going back to school help you reach your goal or is there a better way to go about it? As you make the decisions, you should be able to create a plan that you can implement over the next year so that you can achieve what you want to with your career.
If you have any debt, you should work on paying it off. This means getting your spending under control. You need to create a budget that works, and stick to it. This is much easier said then done, but with careful planning, and by monitoring your accounts, you should be able to get out of debt. The last few years have shown us the problems that too much debt can cause whether you are a person, a company or a country. You can change your financial outlook by committing to get out of debt. Your debt elimination plan will make it easier and allow you to make your payments really count. Making a short-term sacrifice now will make it easier to do the things you want to in the future such as buying a home or traveling.
Building your net worth is another thing you can do to bring stability to your finances and to open the doors to reach your goals. Saving money each month, and learning how to invest it wisely will help you when it comes time to buy your first home or start a family. This is essential and the sooner you begin working on saving money and investing the better off you will be in the long term. Make a goal to set aside at least ten percent in addition to your retirement each month, and to figure out how to invest it. I advise visiting a financial planner and choosing mutual funds rather than individual stocks. Eventually you may be in a place where you consider real estate, but you should do this in cash.
Finally, you need to look at your budget. In all seriousness if you don’t have control over your budget you will not be able to reach all of your other goals. It even makes it easier to focus on your job and perform well at work. There are several different approaches to budgeting, and you will need to find the one that works best for you. The main point is to plan what you are going to spend each month, stick to it, and make sure you are spending less than you earn. If you can do that, you will be able to reach all of your other financial goals, and be successful.
Take the time to make financial goals for 2013. It will make it easier for you to handle the other aspects of your life. You should make sure you are not sabotaging yourself financially with your old financial habits, so that you can succeed. If you feel like you are in a hopeless financial situation you can turn it around. It may take awhile, but through real effort and a willingness to change you should be able to build new habits that will lead to your financial success.