It’s time for the requisite New Year’s Eve Resolution blog entry. The one where we all look with hope to the new year and say, “This is the year everything changes.” Then life hits and June rolls around and we forget what we resolved to do.
Take heart, though. The statistics aren’t as bad as the anecdotal evidence. Here is how long people maintained their resolutions:
– past the first week: 75%
– past 2 weeks: 71%
– after one month: 64%
– after 6 months: 46%
There are ways to improve your chances like reflecting on last year’s successes and failures, developing your resolutions jointly, and keeping a physical reminder of your resolution around you at all times (e.g. a rock, keychain tag, etc).
So let’s get started. Here are the Account417 financial resolutions for 2012:
1. Live like God owns it all. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it…” Psalms 24:1. Life opens up in glorious ways when we give over ownership of “our” stuff to God. Doing so shifts our focus from an earthly perspective to an eternal one and frees us to do more satisfying things with our lives and possessions.
2. Be better managers. “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” – Luke 16:11. Take a moment to take stock; has the way you’ve handled God’s money been pleasing to Him? If He is the owner, then we are the managers and so our financial dealings should always bear those markings. Get into the habit of asking yourself, “would I have a hard time explaining this expenditure to God (the boss)?”
3. Get a financial plan in place. “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” – Proverbs 27:12. A well thought out financial plan will help you meet goals, live with less financial stress, and give you ways to gauge your progress. Mint.com is a good, simple place to start figuring out where you’re at and where you can cut back. If you already have a financial plan, take the first part of the year to reassess your trajectory, cut the fat, or find ways to give more.
4. Pay off debt. “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love on another…” – Romans 13:8. This one is probably already on your list. Debt reduction is second only to weight loss on the resolutions hierarchy, with success rates for both about the same. We’ve found that the debt snowball system (download one here) works the best, especially if you have debt in several different places. Consider crunching and increasing the debt repayment. Thanks to the magic of compounding interest, putting even a little more on your payment can drastically reduce it over the long run. Check out this handy calculator to see what we mean.
5. Be more thankful. “…Be thankful to Him, and bless His name …” – Psalm 100:4. If you are reading this post, you are rich. You may not feel rich because those around you have so much more, but in the grand scheme, you are rich. (Click here to find out how rich). As Americans, we have so many things to be thankful for, it’s almost overwhelming. Running water? Check. A roof? Check. Clothes in the closet? Check. A Car? Check. These are things that 50-92% of the world don’t have, so next time you feel a complaint coming on, get a drink of water, peruse your closet, count what you DO have and thank God for it.
6. Simplify. “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” – Luke 21:34 (ESV). Our lives have a tendency to become weighted and cluttered, both physically and spiritually, with everyday life. Go through your stuff and get rid of the excess and think about accumulating less. You will feel lighter, you’ll make some extra dough, and you’ll make more room in your life for the things that matter.
Your turn. What are your 2012 financial resolutions?