Starting over: five ways to reset your money goals
One time, Mama Hogan looked at me and said, “Christopher” – she had my attention when she said my full name – “I don’t ever want you to be a ‘been’ brother.” I said, “Huh?” She explained: “A coulda been, shoulda been, woulda been kind of person. You have an opportunity to change some things and make progress.”
Listen up, people. We’ve all been “been brothers” from time to time – wishing we’d done things differently or beating ourselves up for past mistakes. And there’s one area we carry a lot of regret: money. Maybe you’re looking at your financial situation and starting to get upset. You might be thinking, “there’s got to be a better way than this”.
Here’s the good news. The new year is like turning a blank page. If you wake up with breath in your lungs, you’ve got an opportunity to do a little bit better than the day before. All you’ve got to do is decide to change. To help you with a fresh start, here are five ways you can reset your money goals in 2021.
1. Start with the end in mind
What do you want to accomplish by changing your money habits? Is this the year you finally become debt-free? Are you saving up for college for your kids? Are you getting serious about funding your dream retirement? Take some time to dream in high definition about your goals so you can have something concrete to work towards.
2. Evaluate your spending habits
Get your bank statements out (even if it hurts to look at them), and take a long, hard look at where you’re spending money. When I finally got serious about controlling my money and making a budget, I went through all my bank statements and I asked myself: Where is my money actually going? Guess what? It was going to the grocery store – those places were getting rich off me. I was spending $1,200 every single month on groceries! I wouldn’t have realised that if I’d just kept cruising along on autopilot, not paying attention to where I was spending my hard-earned income.
3. Make a zero-based budget
A zero-based budget is, hands down, the best way to budget. It’s a method of planning your spending at the beginning of every month so that your total income minus your total expenses equals zero. It means you give every dollar a job to do in the budget. And once you’ve made your budget, I want you to really pay attention and track your spending by keeping a record of your transactions throughout the month.
4. Beef up your emergency fund
If you’ve got consumer debt, build up an emergency fund of $1,000 to act as a buffer between you and life. Once you’re out of debt, though, build that emergency fund up to have enough money in savings to cover a three to six months of expenses. That way, you can pay cash for life’s emergencies instead of turning to debt.
5. Track your progress
I like to tell people that building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. Since it’s a long-term game, it’s important to track your progress along the way. I want you to visualise and celebrate the small wins so you stay fired up for the long haul. We have a great tool called Ramsey+ that will help you track your progress – whether it’s getting out of debt, saving an emergency fund, or investing.
I believe in you. And I know you can make 2021 your best year yet.
Chris Hogan is a two-time No. 1 national bestselling author, financial expert and host of The Chris Hogan Show. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, Fox Business, Yahoo! Finance, and the Rachael Ray Show. Since 2005, Hogan has served at Ramsey Solutions, where he gives practical money advice on retirement, investing and building wealth. Follow Chris on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube or online at chrishogan360.com.