This year is quickly coming to an end. As you enjoy the quiet time with friends and family during the holiday season, use some of this down time to reflect on your finances and create a plan of attack for 2015.
To best prepare for this planning session, you will need two to three hours of quiet time, a journal, and a comfortable, private spot at your local coffee shop, in your office, or in your home.
On top of that, keep your phone and/or computer near you so you can retrieve specific data from your online accounts, schedule appointments, and conduct related and relevant research. In other words, stay off of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This is serious business.
You may want to use two pages to answer each question.
2014 Year-in-Review Money Reflections New Year
- Do you have a clear picture of how much income you bring in each month? Do you have a clear picture of how much income you spend on bills? Have you used the 50:30:20 rule of thumb for creating your starter budget: 50 percent of your income goes to needs, 30 percent goes to wants, and 20 percent goes to savings and investing?
- Have you made any progress on eliminating your credit card debt? Do you know how much debt you actually owe? Have you applied the “domino effect” to eliminating your credit card debt— lining up your credit cards from lowest balance to the highest balance and systematically paying as much as you can on the first bills and the minimum payments on the others until the first debt is completely paid off.
- Can you honestly say that you have calculated how much you would need to save six, nine, or 12 months worth of your net income? If you don’t have at least six months of living expenses socked away, what will be your plan of action? How will you increase your income? How will you decrease your expenditure? Have you automated savings for your emergency fund with an online account like Capital One 360 or Ally Bank?
- Have you started saving for retirement? Have you checked the beneficiaries on any financial accounts? Reevaluated your risk tolerance? If not, when will you do it?
- Have you written a will? (Even though we are young, getting started early when there is time helps us avoid panicking, confusion, and fighting when you have already passed.) If not, when will you start?
Financial Goal Setting:
- Have you set short-term, manageable goals (ie earn through saving or extra work $1,000 per month for 10 months for the down payment on that house)?
- Have you transformed a passion or hobby into a profitable endeavor? If not, have you taken the time to figure out what you love? Have you enlisted the support of a business coach to help you get unstuck?
Saving for a Sunny Day:
- Have you aligned your spending patterns with what you truly love? That is, are you spending all of your money on lattes when you really could be putting it toward that trip to Ghana you have been claiming you can’t afford? Have you figured out what you love?
- Are you selling stuff that you don’t need on Amazon, Poshmark, Craigslist, Buffalo Exchange, Plato’s Closet, Bag Borrow Steal, or Ebay? If not, why not? When will you start?
Accountability and Support:
- Are you hating on someone else for their financial discipline? Instead of hating on them, why not ask them to give you some advice? When will you reach out to this person?
Getting to financial flawlessness in 2015 can happen. It starts with asking the right questions and making concrete plans around those answers.
Kara is a life coach and founder of the personal finance and lifestyle blog The Frugal Feminista. Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com Get your FREE ebook: The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5-days at www.thefrugalfeminista.com