Research shows that 40 to 50 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. If you’re among them (I am!) then I bet yours had something to do with either money, career or health. In that spirit, I thought I would share a few tidbits on maintaining those resolutions.
Money/Shopping Believe me, I completely understand the adage, “The clothes make the (wo)man.” With The Magnificent Mile out my office window, it’s easy to be drawn in by the beautiful clothes and sales promotions. But most people (myself included) simply can’t afford to go clothes shopping on a regular basis. And when it comes to the latest trends, you don’t need to go all-out with a new wardrobe in order to look in style.
If you’re trying to trim your clothing budget this year, follow this favorite tip among wardrobe stylists: stock your closet with high-quality basics then use your clothing budget to update with one or two trendy items each season. For example, a scarf in the season’s color or a flattering dress that you can wear for a client meeting, networking event and an evening out will make you feel brand new without feeling broke.
Career Perhaps one of your goals for 2012 is to figure out your career path and make changes where needed. No matter where you are on the career spectrum, it’s always good to have choices. And by choices I mean that you don’t feel stuck in your job because you can’t afford to make a change. If that’s you, it’s time to get started on that rainy day fund.
Research shows that the reason people don’t save is because they don’t think they can afford to – “saving” means putting away big chunks of money, and they figure they’ll start that when everything else settles down. Guess what, it doesn’t. The key is to start small.
I save 5% of my income to cushion me in times of slow business. If you have a regular paycheck, start with $25 per pay, then tack on $5 to that amount each month. Before you know it, you’ll be saving $100 per paycheck and you’ll have a nice cushion built up for that day you decide to leave your job to start a business, go back to school or try a new industry.
Health To me, good health is an investment in itself. Barring an unforeseen illness, many of the diseases that bog down Americans like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes are preventable by maintaining healthy habits. Investing time and maybe a little money while you’re still healthy will pay dividends for years to come.
If your resolution has to do with losing weight, don’t forget the other aspects of maintaining your health. Make time for your annual check-ups and even if you fall off the wagon with your diet or exercise plan, keep trying to get that exercise in. Even a 30 minute walk will reduce your risk of many heart-related ailments. Also, try skipping the chips at the deli – you’ll save a little bit of money AND you’ll contribute to your health, saving you money in the long-term on health-related expenses.
Above all, join me in celebrating a chance to start another year anew. I wish each of you a ridiculous abundance of happiness, health and prosperity in 2012! Please share your resolutions in the comments below.
Kelley C. Long, CPA is the owner of KCL Financial Coaching, a member of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission and a tax accountant. She moonlights as a BodyPump instructor and believes that the true meaning of financial security is having choices in life. Learn more about her at www.kclmoneycoach.com.