We have just under 7 weeks left in the year, and before the holiday rush hits, now is a good time for a quick check-in about what’s happened for you this year regarding your saving and investing habits. If you have an ‘finance date‘ coming up, this is a great agenda to add to your conversation.
I’ve positioned these thoughts as questions. They can be journaling prompts, conversation starters, or just something for you to ponder thoughtfully with your morning coffee.
What were your New Year’s resolutions?
Do you set new year resolutions? It’s been 11 months – have you followed through on those intentions consistently? I’m not a huge fan of resolutions because so much can change in a year, so don’t beat yourself up too much if you have fallen short on those expectations you had. But, don’t shy away from a conversation with yourself about why you set those resolutions, and where you are today. Are you in a better place financially? How can you continue to be more proactive, rather than reactive?
What do you want to accomplish between now and the end of the year?
This question is the main reason I wanted to broach this conversation topic now, as opposed the end of the year – because there are still time to make changes! A classic example is checking if you’ve topped up any investments that have yearly caps such as an IRA, or drawn down on any of your benefits that reset next year, like a flexible spending account. Here is a full list you might find useful.
If you can think of a lot of things you need or want to accomplish, don’t panic. Make a list and prioritize items that have a hard end-of-year cutoff. Then set aside one hour a week – preferably during the workday if you need to make phone calls to any customer support centers – and check things off your list. If you spend 1 hour a week now, you’ll have spent a whole day focused on improving your financial future.
How will you approach the holiday spending season?
The upcoming weeks are often when many folks get derailed when it comes to keeping to a budget. Don’t let the festive consumerism ruin your financial progress! The biggest thing to remember to avoid making credit card purchases you will not pay off immediately. This time of year – with all the sales and discounts – make it very tempting to pick up new gadgets, gizmos, and things that you think will make your life better. While that might be true, credit card debt (and the compound interest) will certainly not make your life better, so resist the temptation.
If you’re struggling with gift giving, why not think out of the box. Maybe go for a handmade gift, something you can whip up in the kitchen, or go thrift/vintage shopping for a retro-cool find?
What will you do differently next year?
This is definitely a end-of-year question, but I’d like you to be thinking about it now, as it is a question that needs some time to unfold. This isn’t an excuse question to put off changing habits until next year – consider this a more long-term thinking perspective, whereas the previous questions are very much things to act upon now.
Regardless of how the answers to these questions make you feel, just remember that you are in charge of your financial future, so know what you want, educate yourself on how to get there, and then stick to habits that will help you reach your dreams and goals!