2014 is the Year to get Serious about your Finances

2014 is the Year to get Serious about your Finances

Written by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated January 10, 2014

While it is roundly acknowledged that New Year’s resolutions are usually only made to be broken, 2014 is the perfect time to break those preconceived notions, and make a resolution that will truly make a difference in your life should you choose to stick with it. As such, 2014 is the year to get serious about getting your finances under some semblance of control. While resolving to make the gym a bigger part of your life next year is a laudable goal, achieving control over your wayward expenses is the ideal resolution to help pay for that gym membership.

Needless to say, making the commitment to get control over your finances is easier than actually getting those wayward expenses under control, so prepare yourself for success by planning for success. From controlling your wayward spending to shopping around for better interest rates, there is always ways to squeeze an extra penny or two out of each dollar you spend.

Control the impulse to Impulsively Buy

There is a reason why impulse items are placed prominently near supermarket checkout stands, and that reason is to add another few dollars to your tally before you make it out to the parking lot. It is not by pure happenstance that this is the case. Indeed, retailers understand the power of a providentially placed product to add significantly to their bottom line, and place those items there for that express purpose.

Since your corner shop keeper cares nothing about your New Year’s resolution to start saving money, it’s up to you to fight off the urge to load your shopping cart with the batteries you don’t need, or the flashlight/bottle opener combination that you don’t want.

At only a dollar or two per item, impulse items appear to be a pretty benign purchase, but they have the power to completely derail your budget if you are not careful. Whether it’s a triple-shot gourmet espresso, or the need to pick up the latest gossip magazine by the checkout counter, these types of purchases are standing in the way of your fiscal solvency this year.

To better manage your impulse buying, limit yourself to set amount of money that will be used to fund your impulse buys, finance your eating habits, and keep your car filled with petrol. For instance, by limiting yourself to $100 in spending money per pay period, you will quickly develop the discipline you need to stretch your dollars to their utmost. A couple days spent admiring your new flashlight/bottle opener combination, in lieu of eating lunch, because you spent all your money on a new flashlight/bottle opener combination, will soon get you reevaluating how you spend each dollar that makes it into your hand.

Break Bad Habits

Have you ever noticed that all the “good” bad habits are frightfully expensive? Whether your preferred poison is nicotine, knocking back cocktails, or playing the ponies, these bad habits can take a toll on even the most highly structured budget. As such, why not try and combine two resolutions at once? For instance, the goal of quitting cigarettes will quickly be reinforced as you begin to see your savings start to pile up. Success begets success, and once you start to take note of the money you are saving by abstaining from your daily puffing habit, you will begin to experience the dual rewards of realizing two of your major New Year goals: not smoking cigarettes that you don’t need, and not spending money that you don’t have.

Overpay Your Mortgage

With all the money that you’re amassing from your diligent saving efforts, it might be tempting to take your windfall and reward yourself for your excellent self control with a night out on the town. Before reserving a table at that four-star restaurant you’ve been eyeing, it’s important to slow your roll, and realize that that one steak dinner can easily absorb all your hard earned savings in the blink of an eye. While not as tasty as a gourmet meal, or as entertaining as an award winning performance, taking that saved money and applying it towards other bills will keep you on track for meeting that 2014 resolution of fiscal responsibility, but it can also serve to save you even more money depending on how you apportion it out. For instance, it is widely understood that by overpaying your monthly mortgage payments can result in saving thousands of dollars on your interest payments while significantly shortening the length of your loan.

Caitlin is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security. One of the main ways she’s built good financial habits is by budgeting and tracking her spending through the YNAB budgeting app. She also automates her savings so she never forgets to put aside a portion of her income into her TFSA. She believes investing and passive income is key to earning financial freedom. She also uses her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect Aeroplan points so that she can save money when she travels.

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