Why wait for a New Year? Attack those money problems now!

Regina Harris is a personal financial counselor who serves the citizen soldiers, airmen and families of the Kentucky National Guard.  You can contact her at rharris@mflc.zeiders.com or call her at 502-607-1680.

2012-12-06 09.17.34FRANKFORT, Ky. — It is almost a universal truth that money is not the key to happiness, although, almost none of America has bought into that truism. While having money will not automatically bring you the key to happiness, it sure moves issues out of your way so you can find it.  The pursuit of happiness, when dissected or perfected is just synergy; having every area of your life on track, a positive track according to your standards.

This particular pursuit encompasses all the top 10 New Years Resolutions which includes: get out of debt, stop smoking, and lose weight…  Why is it that New Year Resolutions are so popular, but dropped within months? So many of us are off-track all year long and when a New Year rolls around think, “Puff!! I am woman (or man) hear me roar!”  We somehow believe that we will have a stronger resolve, a plan or a clue as soon as the clock strikes mid-night. I suspect we wait because a New Year signifies newness, a new beginning.

In light of New Year Resolutions failures of the past I say we resolve to use each new morning, each stroke of midnight as a new beginning. Give ourselves permission to start again and again, more often than just yearly, to get on track.  Wake up to a new day, set a goal and start again.

Here are a few essential steps toward meeting your goals:

Write down your goals and review them often.  Be sure you are making daily, hourly, decisions  that are in keeping with your plan.  Tell a friend your goal, even your plan for achieving your goal. Friends can help keep you on track, by reminding you of them and maybe even assisting. In my case, my friends can assist me with my goals by not inviting me to events often and instead plan free outings.

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Good planning is essential whether you’re on the firing range or making long range financial plans. (Photo by Sgt. Sandra Fariss, 206th Engineer Battalion Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative)

Writing down your goal and your success plan makes them concrete and makes them seem more attainable. Be as specific as possible. Break down big, long-term goals into smaller bite-sized ones.  For example, you want to save $1000 in one year, which sounds daunting, and it seems sooo far away. So break it down. That is a weekly, 7 day goal of $19.23. Nineteen dollars and twenty-three cents sounds a lot more doable than $1,000. Also create a non-goal related reward for each week you hit your goal. A reward every week is motivation.

Make a plan. How many of us actually write a detailed plan to achieve our goal that includes a timetable, automatic check-ups and rewards? Yes, rewards, everyone works a little harder when a reward is on the line.  Time is a big issue. Absolutely every, every goal in the world will take some time. Even a goal that is behavior related takes time. It takes time in thought and planning, time that you can not effectively do anything but concentrate on doing or not doing that particular thing.

Make time to work your plan.  The time allotted for my savings goal (necessary to save my $1000) is the night before payday. How likely I am to stick to my plan is wholly dependent on how well I thought out my plan. Can I really afford $19.23 per week? Yes I can, if I make a few lifestyle changes.  So, I take my lunch; quite inconvenient some days, so I don’t!

It is okay to tweak your original plan. It is even expected that you will have to shake things up to do something great, achieve a desperately wanted goal.

We are all different; what works for me may not work for you. I do what I do. You should do you!

Whatever you pursue, plan it your way and do it. Only don’t wait for a New Year to start. Start today, the very first day of the rest of your life.

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