Tag Archives: resolutions

Avoiding the “Stupid” New Year’s Impulses

Here we are the week before New Years and most of us want to, or feel the peer pressure, to start making resolutions for 2018.

Whatever yours may be, stop for a minute and make sure they’re not stupid or irrational things you do, or say to yourself.

The stupid things many people can do is to get super excited about getting fit in the coming year. The resolution is great – but signing a two-year fitness club contract falls under the category of stupid. If you can go for a two-month trial or on a month-to-month basis, it’s great. If you’re on a contract for a thousand bucks or more, it’s a really bad idea.

A second big one is doing serious damage to your credit score. If your mortgage is up for renewal, you’re looking to buy a home, or want to finally get your line of credit rate reduced, don’t borrow until that’s done. When you take on a new debt, the inquiry into your credit bureau can drop your score and your new debt will lower it in two other ways. Stay away from new debt if refinancing, a mortgage renewal or anything like that is on your radar within six months.

Under the category of stupid things we say to ourselves, the most common one I hear someone say is that “they got ripped off.” Sorry, there isn’t a sales person or retailer in the province who has a gun to your head. You didn’t get ripped off as much as did it to yourself. You shortcut getting another quote, you made an impulse buy with a finance contract, you didn’t shop around, etc. etc. But as long as you say to yourself and others that “you got ripped off” there’s no personal accountability. After all, if it was someone else’s fault – there’s no lesson for you to learn. If we change the wording to “I let myself get ripped off” that’s a powerful change in your thinking and in your actions the next time!

The second big way we sabotage ourselves is with the words “I can’t.” Of course you can. I can’t save, I can’t get my credit card balance down, etc. Yes you really can. But again, when you think like a victim – you’ll end up being right. If you stop using your credit card for a while, grade one math says your balance will drop with each monthly payment. So don’t sabotage yourself from the start and start thinking about how to turn the “I can’t” into “I’m going to.”

Happy New Year…But…

Sadly, as of last week, over 25 percent of resolutions have already gone by the wayside. But I have an idea and a way out of that: Think of January as a free trial month. You get that with some subscriptions, perhaps with a fitness club trial and other offers. So learn the lesson and start again on February 1st with your financial goals!

Make sure that your financial to-do and to-resolve list starts with something really simple, really short, but also really critical. It’s an entire chapter in the Money Tools book called: Do you have a half hour?

Yes, you do have it – but do you want to invest that half hour into getting some of your financial stuff in order for at least the coming year?

First thing is to have a coffee date with your partner if you are in a relationship. If you’re not on the same wave length – nothing else really matters. Talk about your financial goals and hurdles for at least this year.

Do you want a $10,000 vacation? If you don’t have it set aside, what’s the plan to save $800 a month if it’s next winter, or save $1,500 a month if it’s this summer.

Want to just charge it on a credit card? That’s your choice if you and your partner agree…but at a 20% rate it’ll be $20,000 in total price in four years. I think that’s a horrible idea, but it’s your choice IF you agree and IF you know what you’re getting into.

Is there one specific debt want to pay off? Do you agree it’s worth it and which one? How important is it to you two? What will you do or give up to achieve it?

If you’re a home owner, and your mortgage is coming up for renewal, are you planning to stay in town, in the home, in your job? What’s the longer term life plan…..because you don’t want to sign another five-year mortgage if you haven’t talked it through, or your penalties will be upwards of $20,000 if you change your mind!

Open a TFSA or RRSP: If you don’t have one – it takes less than half an hour with an online brokerage or your financial institution – that’s it. If your tax refund or other money comes in you have a way to invest it. If you don’t – that money is most likely going to leak out elsewhere.

Open an emergency savings account: You want a basic one week net pay to start. Not hooked to an ATM. But you first need the 15 minute to just open it and put 10 bucks in it. That’s a start – and the longest journey always starts with that first step!

It lets you get traction…because without it you’re not going anywhere…

The Money’s All Spent – Now What?

Now that it’s the week after Christmas I’m reminded of an old Irish Rover Song called: Wasn’t that a party, and then talks about the hangover.

That’s kind of like our financial lives, having just spent over $22 billion on Christmas, mostly with borrowed money, and including lots of presents for ourselves. I know, I know, we work hard, it’s our money, we deserve something, it was on sale, we really needed it, etc. Well, if we were to be honest with ourselves, that’s all nonsense. Broke people can’t afford to buy stuff, and it’s almost always a “want” and not a “need.” That’s how we get to spending over $4.2 billion on impulse purchases in a year, according to one Canadian study. And, to be honest, that number is way low, because it’s the last thing we’ll admit to.

Yes, we work hard, and yes it’s our money. But do you want to keep working hard forever? Freedom 77 doesn’t have the same ring to it as that old commercial campaign of Freedom 55, does it? At some point in time, we do have to get away from the spending party and focus on paying off the hangover and saving something for someday down the road. Intellectually, we know that, but when are we actually going to get around to it is the big question that will change your entire financial life.

Right now, let’s be honest: We spend more time planning our vacation than we do our financial situation. Make 2012 the year that you’ll actually turn that around. Here are a couple of suggestions that are small enough where you’ll do it, but big enough to have a significant impact. Why small steps? Because our sub-conscious mind will revolt against huge goals that seem impossible to reach.

You’re not going to lose 60 lbs, but you can lose a pound a week. You won’t run the marathon this summer, but you can go for a 15 minute walk each day. You also won’t be debt free by February, but you can start on that journey with one step at a time.

Resolve to say no: Whether it’s to yourself when it comes to spending, to your kids, people at work, or anywhere else. It’s the one word that’ll change your financial life.

Take your credit cards out of your wallet: At least for January, leave the cards at home. If you have an emergency, you’re one call away from getting help. But going to the mall or charging this or that isn’t an emergency – honestly.

Set a cash limit: Pick an amount below which you’ll always always pay by cash or debit. The higher the limit, the better – if you make it $50, gas, small grocery purchases, lunch, etc., will all be paid cash. That alone will drastically reduce the charges on your credit card. When we use a credit card we spend 12 to 18% more – period. Whether you pay it in full or not, it’s still a ton of extra spending that isn’t helping.

Stop being financially stupid for 2012: You know exactly what that means. They are different things for all of us, but make the New Year one where you’ll stop doing the top two things that get you further in debt, or don’t grow your savings.

And finally, here’s a great post from Facebook this morning that kind of says it all: Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

Some Financial Resolutions That May Actually Work

Sometime last summer I shared with you that there are a number of psychic web sites claiming to predict your financial future – yea right. But let me try to predict one or two things that most of us will go through tonight: We will drink too much, eat too much, stay up way too late, get depressed about things from 2009, or the coming year, or make some wild New Years resolutions that don’t have a chance of surviving for more than a week or so.

It’s something that diet plans and fitness clubs count on. We get excited, sign a one or two-year contract, and show up for a month – tops. We’re still paying payments on the contract, but haven’t seen the place in months. When it comes to our finances, I want you to make this year’s resolutions different. I want you to be smart about it, and give yourself a fighting chance of achieving your dreams and goals.

For your financial resolutions, and I hope you make some, they need to include a few things:

They must be YOUR goals. In other words, they cannot be handed down to you by your spouse, or someone else. You cannot make a goal of getting your car or credit cards paid off without agreeing to it with your partner. You’re not Moses. You don’t get to hand a list of things to someone else. It won’t work.

They must be specific. Just a goal of getting your credit cards paid doesn’t work, and you’ll never do it. A specific goal would be to pay off these particular cards, in this order, not charging on them anymore, and cutting them up. THAT is a resolution you’re way more likely to keep.

You need a time-frame: Sometime next year, in the future, down the road – those words don’t get it done. Set a day and a month to make it happen.

Goals must be in writing and tell the world: Achieving your goals is 5 or 10 times more likely if you write them down. And I suggest posting them on the fridge so that they’re in your face every day. You’ll also massively increase your odds if you tell a bunch of people. They’ll hold you accountable, if they care about you, and you’re more likely to be disciplined if you feel that others are watching.

But the big one is that you have to want to want it in the first place. There is no feeling in the world like being debt free. Most of us have never been there, so we really have no idea. But it’s worth it and you’re worth it.

Start by sitting down with your spouse, if you’re married, and agreeing to some financial goals for 2010. And take 10 minutes to do a budget and a list of your debts. No TV, no kids – just you and a piece of paper. That’ll be more than 99% of the world will accomplish.

I wish you a great New Year and may all your financial goals come true for 2010!