When you make resolutions for the New Year, you have good intentions of sticking to them. It's more likely that they won't last long! But when it comes to your finances, it's worth making some long-lasting resolutions that will stand you in good stead. Here are some financial New Year's resolutions that you should make and keep throughout your life …
1. Set a Budget
How can you be resolute about money if you don't know how much you spend? Set a budget based on your incomings and outgoings and stick to it. Use a spreadsheet or an app (there are so many)
2. Pay Bills on Time
One resolution that you should make is to always pay your bills on time. Being a persistently late payer could be expensive. You may have to pay a penalty charge, which will add up over time. If you pay your rent or mortgage late that could affect your credit rating. Make sure that you've put money aside for bills before making any frivolous purchases.
3. Avoid Debt
There may be times when taking on debt is unavoidable. You may need a car to get to work, and it's rare for someone to pay for a house in cash. But in general avoid taking on debts whenever possible. Live within your means. Buying things on credit that they don't need has got many people into a financial pickle.
4. Boost Your Savings
One resolution you should definitely make is to set up a regular savings plan if you don't already have one. Think of it as a payment to yourself and an investment for the future. Then put as much money as you can into your savings. This is wise for many reasons; it will help protect you against job loss, and mean that you have funds for an emergency or for anything you really want to buy.
5. Think before Spending
Get into a simple habit this year. Before buying anything, ask yourself the simple question: do I really need this? It's so easy to fritter away cash without noticing, and even small purchases will add up. Making yourself think twice before buying will lead you to put many things back on the shelf, and save your money for something more important.
6. Ask for What You're Worth
From now on, ask for the pay rates that you deserve. If you know that you're worth a pay increase, then present your bosses with the reasons why your work justifies it. If you're self-employed, then don't be afraid to ask for higher rates for your work; freelancers often bid too low because they're afraid of pricing themselves out.
7. Don't Waste Money
Resolve not to waste money. Work out how much you spend on clothes you don't wear, food you don't eat, and other things you never use. it might shock you just how much you are spending on "nothing". Start to use your money wisely instead of squandering it, and enjoy watching your savings grow instead of splashing out on nights out.
8. Get to Grips with Your Credit Score
If you have an eye on a future that includes your own home or you are recovering from bad debt, your credit score is an invaluable indicator. Sign up to receive your credit score or use a credit monitoring service.
9. Get Automated
You will find sticking to your financial resolutions easier if you automate as much as you can. By setting up recurring payments you can easily avoid missed and late payments and the fees they inevitably incur.
10. Do Your Taxes Early
If you are guilty of leaving your taxes until April, make it a New Year's Resolution to change that. By filing at last minute or late or underpaying due to rushed calculations you incur expensive penalties. You can avoid this and the related stress by being organized and doing your taxes early.
11. Improve Your Financial Literacy
Many people struggle with finances because they claim not to understand it. You don't have to be an accountant to get to grips with basic terminology and understanding. By being invested (no pun intended) in your personal finance you'll find it easier to control and be able to make more informed decisions.
12. Stress Test Your Finances
This is a good test to introduce to your financial management suite. You only have to do it once a year. Stress testing is a check on the stability of your finances. It identifies if you are equipped to cope with things like a job loss or the death of the family's breadwinner. It also takes into account major market changes such as we've seen in recent years with things like the collapse of the housing market.
13. Budget for Christmas
It's only just passed but remember how stressful it was? Does Christmas always make you worry about how you're going to finance it? Start planning your expenditure and budgeting for the festivities. Put money aside each month, and don't splash out on extravagant gifts. If you do buy gifts for a lot of people (which you don't need to do), spread your purchases throughout the year and buy in the sales. But remember that it's only one day.
Developing a sensible approach to finances will be very valuable, so make this the year you get into good financial habits - and stick to them in the future. Do you have any bad financial habits you need to improve?
Updated in 2018 by editor Neecey Beresford