Does it seem odd to think about making financial New Year’s resolutions? Turns out it’s a more common practice than you’d expect. According to a recent survey by Fidelity Investments, a third of Americans do it. Strangely, that number is down from 43 percent just four years ago. And according to several financial experts, that’s not a good sign.
Reporting on the Fidelity survey, Julian Harding writes in the CBS News Moneywatch article Make some New Year’s resolutions for your money that financial experts are big fans of financial resolutions. It’s when you’re not paying attention to your money, they say, that problems can arise. What’s a good place to start thinking about appropriate resolutions? Harding writes:
It's a good idea to take stock of where you stand financially. Are you keeping track of how much you’re spending and saving each month? If not, maybe it's time to make a more concrete budget for how you manage your money.
Need help building a basic budget? A couple good resources are Freed-Up Financial Living and Dave Ramsey.
Besides getting serious about saving, another possible resolution is paying down high-interest credit card debt. (The average US household owes $15,000!). A third idea is saving for retirement. Harding says “most financial experts recommend being conservative in your estimates of how long you’ll be able to work and what you can realistically plan as retirement income.”
Whether it’s for emergency expenses or retirement, the idea of saving can be intimidating. What’s a realistic approach?
“People need to have their long-term goals and their short-term goals," Maura Cassidy (vice president of retirement for Fidelity Investments) said, noting that making good money choices a regular habit is key to keeping financial resolutions. "We definitely encourage that," she said. "It's so much easier to save $50 per week than to save $2,000 at the end of the year."
ECCU Relationship Manager Schuyler Francine says a practical way for missionaries to start saving is by setting a short-term, concrete goal, like saving $1,000 or more by a certain date. “That kind of goal is achievable,” he says, “and it’s really encouraging when you reach it.”
ECCU offers a number of missionary savings accounts to help you get started.