Now that January has passed, take a moment to ask yourself, "Am I staying true to my New Year's resolution?" Two of the most-vowed New Year's resolutions are improved physical fitness and improved financial fitness. Both require dedication, healthy habits, and exercise.
43% of people expect to have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions by February. One of the most common reasons is people set their expectations too high. The good news, reaching your resolution is possible when you set realistic goals that can turn into habits. To become financially fit, follow the exercises below to help you get started:
Exercise 1: Identify your fixed spending
Fixed spending refers to any expense that does not change between periods. Fixed spending is also referred to as fixed costs and is commonly known as rent, car payments, insurance, and similar interest payments. Many fixed costs do not change, but in some cases, bills like utilities and gas may change in amount but are still due regularly.
Write down amounts you spend each month on each of the following: rent/mortgage, utilities, internet, phone, trash, child care, insurance, car payments, and debt payments.
Exercise 2: Identify your flexible spending
Flexible spending, also known as your discretionary income, is the amount left over once you pay your fixed expenses. Discretionary income is the money you can spend on subscriptions, groceries, household products, clothes, personal care items, entertainment, and paying yourself.
Make sure you use some of your discretionary income to pay yourself. Paying yourself is not money you might find between your couch cushions; it’s a specific amount you choose to put into a retirement plan or a savings account. The amount can be as little as $6, the same price you might pay for a fancy coffee. Eventually, you will get into the habit of wanting to save a little more each time you see how much those six-dollar drinks add up.
Exercise 3: Do financial research
Some people are not informed about financial literacy growing up. Most people learn it from experience. With the technology, we have at our fingertips, learning financial literacy is not as complicated as it once was 20 years ago. Researching where to find financial advisors, financial terms, investment opportunities, retirement plans, and similar topics can help you become more financially aware. Visit avent.com/financial-education for personal finance tips and education.
Exercise 4: Learn to say no
How often do you scroll online and see an item you need to have? You might justify your spending by telling yourself $10 is cheap. So, you buy it, but the question is, do you need it? One exercise to keep you from overspending is learning to say no to yourself. Try to walk away and tell yourself you don’t need it. Instead, add it to a Christmas or birthday wish list.
Exercise 5: Partner up
A money buddy is a friend who shares similar financial goals and interests as yourself. When you have a friend, who values and respects your financial decisions, it is easier to save money. A partner can also be your money buddy. Discussing financial goals with your partner helps to identify what your household spending should be.
Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t on track to meet your financial goals. Instead, adopt these exercises and try to turn them into financial habits. February is still the start of the year, and it’s never too late to become financially fit.