5 Ideas for Improving Personal Financial Health in the New Year

Dec 21, 2023
5 Ideas for Improving Personal Financial Health in the New Year

The New Year is the perfect time to review old habits and make commitments for positive personal changes. Better money management is one of the most popular resolutions for a new year, but it is, unfortunately, one that is often quickly abandoned. Saving, budgeting, and paying down debts are not easy tasks for many of us, but a few small changes in money habits can help keep a new year's resolution on track.

Some ideas to consider for more efficient money management habits:

1.    Set a schedule for paying bills

Paying bills is just about the least fun thing to do with your time; no wonder so many people put it off for another day. While putting off the headaches of bills, credit card statements, and debts may seem like a way to keep the stress at bay, it actually can end up increasing the stress as those due dates fast approach. Neglecting financial management tasks can add to your costs, as well, when bills become overdue and incur late fees and interest charges. Keep the stress level at its lowest by setting up a schedule to tackle the bills and financial accounts. One designated day each week is often a good place to start.

2.    Add savings to your budget

If you’ve been managing your finances up to this point, you probably have some kind of budget you’ve been working from. The beginning of a new year is a great time to review that budget to see if actual spending last year matched your estimates. If you didn’t have a category for savings, this may be a good time to add that. Designating a small amount for savings each month—based on figures from last year’s budget—will give you a cushion for emergencies and make next year’s financial review easier.

3.    Eliminate one unnecessary item

No one likes to cut back on luxury spending, but chances are there is at least one thing you’re spending money on that you can live just as easily without. If you’re paying for a lot of ongoing entertainment subscriptions—as many of us are—there may be one that you really don’t use that much or whose services could be just as easily fulfilled by one of the other subscriptions you have. Reviewing your monthly spending carefully to locate one thing to cut will keep a little more money in your account each month.

4.    Ditch the checkbook

If you mailed your payments late this year and had to pay late fees or interest charges, your personal bookkeeping system needs some fine tuning. Money spent on late penalties is money wasted: money you could have put in a savings account, an emergency fund, or an investment. Online check printing helps keep bills and payments up-to-date, and it is not just for businesses. Online check printing and mailing through Checkeeper serves individuals, as well, who want to streamline their personal financial management with printed checks on demand and automatic check recording in an online check registry for easier expense tracking and budgeting. When you are traveling, in the process of moving, out of supplies, or in a hurry, Checkeeper can mail your payments for you, as well, according to the priority mailing speed of your choice, so that you can put an end to late-paid bills and extraneous fees once and for all.

5.    De-stress

People have all kinds of ways to deal with daily stress, and many of them involve high spending. When life and work create anxieties and pressures, many people react with retail therapy, extensive dining out, binge spending, or taking pricey trips. It may help your personal finances this year to find a low- or no-cost hobby or activity that helps alleviate stress without breaking your budget. Lower cost activities may include: trips to the library, biking in a park, taking walks around your neighborhood, meditating, starting a garden, listening to music, exercising at home, spending a day at the beach, or any other activity that gives personal enjoyment without costing a lot. Using splurge spending as a primary coping technique to deal with stress is likely to overwhelm your finances and eventually create even more stress.

There is no time like the New Year to get rid of old habits and replace them with more productive and positive changes. Most resolutions are abandoned early on, but improving personal financial health is a resolution that is worth keeping, even it only happens a few steps at a time.