As the season changes from summer to fall, Self-Improvement Month is a perfect time to make positive changes in your life as well. There are many paths to self-improvement including emotional, spiritual and physical but today we have one focus: your finances.
Taking a detailed look at your finances is important to do at least once a year. It can be useful to check on the progress of current goals and identify new areas that require attention. When you take the time to give your finances a good look, you can commit yourself to your financial well-being.
Here are three ways that may help improve your finances during Self-Improvement Month:
1. Be honest with yourself
Honesty is a major component of self-improvement. If you aren’t honest with yourself about your spending and saving habits, you cannot expect to move forward and make positive changes. It may be uncomfortable to address some of the ongoing issues in your financial life but it can be a necessary step in taking a turn for the better.
To help you get started, ask yourself the following questions and be sincere with your answers. As you formulate your answers, try to think of other issues you might need to address:
- What was the last money mistake I made and why did I make it?
- Did I stick to my budget this year? If not, what caused me to overspend?
- Do I have enough saved in my emergency fund?
- What big expenses do I know are coming in the next year?
- How much money will I make in the next year?
- Am I on the right track to reach my target amount and age for retirement?
2. Revisit and revise your financial goals
If you have current financial goals in place, it’s important to review them periodically to make sure you’re still on track. Set aside an afternoon to take a close look at what’s working and what needs to be revised. Be grateful of your successes and put more effort behind the goals that may be falling behind.
As you make changes, don’t set goals too easy or too difficult. The key is to set reasonable, realistic expectations that will make a positive impact on your finances. Write down a list of your current goals and make sure each one is:
- Achievable - Don’t set yourself up to fail. If you aim to pay down a debt account, start by figuring out what you can afford to pay each month. You can increase the payment amount in the future if your budget allows.
- Specific - “Spend less money” is not clear or specific. If you want to make a difference, tell yourself, “I will spend less than $40 a week on coffee and lunch starting next Monday.”
- Measurable - Set deadlines and keep a running record of your goals. As more data comes in, you can start comparing month-to-month progress.
3. Improve other areas of your life
Although the focus of this article is on personal finance, self-improvement month celebrates bettering yourself as a whole. If you make positive changes to other personal habits, you could positively impact your financial well-being in the process as well.
Here are some life changes that could potentially improve your finances:
- Healthy living - Being mindful of what you eat and having a healthy cholesterol level can be obvious benefits of a healthy lifestyle but what about saving money? Living and eating healthy can also result in being more productive and spending less on medical costs. For a list of benefits, check out this article on how eating right can pay off.
- Organization - If you start to clean up the clutter, the tendency to mishandle bills, taxes and other finances could decrease. It may also be a good idea to write down your due dates on a calendar so you avoid being charged late fees.
- Education - Have you been considering a night class or getting certified for a certain skill? Educating yourself could make you more valuable to employers and might result in a raise or a new job offer. Your new skills could pay off in one way or the other.
Believe in yourself
Self-improvement Month is a great time to refocus your current goals and set new financial objectives. Improving your finances is achievable but success won’t happen overnight. Create a plan, stick to the program and remain confident throughout the process. You can do it!