1. Start at the end. If it were 12/31/2016 what would you like to look back on and feel awesome about? A trip? Running a half marathon? Doing 40 hours of volunteer work? Having friends over for a great dinner? Increasing your savings? Giving a certain amount of money to charity? Oh wait, those are some of mine…What are yours?
2. Set your savings on auto–pilot. Being a great saver is one of the best ways to hit your short-term and long-term goals. It’s much easier when you don’t have to work hard at saving. What can you set up to automatically happen? Sure your 401k plan contributions happen automatically, but what about saving for your kids’ educations? Set up a monthly contribution to a 529 college savings plan. (For more about these plans check out SavingforCollege.com.) Want to take an awesome trip this year? Set aside money each month toward the goal – your bank will make this easy for you. Want to use your credit card points to get there? Check out ThePointsGuy.com for the best credit cards to get you there.
3. Clean up your room. Okay, I know this doesn’t sound like a financial strategy but getting rid of clutter, unnecessary things, and all that paper will free up your attention to create what you desire. I’m talking paper, clothes, books, tchotchkes, photos– you get the idea. Also, get rid of that clutter in your mind about things you need to do but haven’t yet (ahem…your estate plan perhaps) and the things you did but wish you hadn’t (maybe selling at the bottom of the market). Just get that stuff done and let go of what you did in the past and learn from it. Want a kick start? Check out the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – it just may actually change your life.
4. Make gratitude your favorite attitude. Study after study has shown that focusing on what you are thankful for boosts your happiness levels. But there are all sorts of other benefits such as reducing materialism. Hmmm, less materialistic … more money to save? Spending just a few minutes a day focusing on what you are grateful for can reduce your stress. Making financial decisions from a place of less stress seems like a sound financial strategy to me. What do you think?
5. Increase the velocity of your generosity. What more of something? Then that’s what you need to give. Really. Want more respect? Then be more respectful. What more business? Then up the referrals you are giving to others? Want more money? Then be generous and give more to charities, causes and people in need of your support. Set your giving on auto-pilot just like your savings. Take a percentage (10% is a lovely one to choose – but you decide what’s right for you) and put it into a separate account each month to be given away. When you have a separate account earmarked for giving it feels totally different than taking it out of your checking account. More like a gift and less like a bill. Try it!