Hello to everyone that saw my segment on Pittsburgh Today Live this morning and decided to check out my site. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!
As I mentioned, I think it’s time to start looking toward the New Year with an eye towards doing things better than we did last year. Here’s how I think you can get your swagger back in 2009:
Out: New Year’s Resolutions
In: List of goals you want to accomplish
New Year’s resolutions are like diets, they don’t work. Just ask Oprah. I mean think about it. You’ve been doing something your whole, or greater part of, your life and you decide that you are going to pull a Barry Sanders…stop on a dime and go a different direction starting January 1st. Well, Barry eventually figured out that his stopping on a dime could do nothing to help the hapless Lions and he gave up football. Sound like what happened to your 2008 resolution?
It’s funny how we treat the first of the year as our own personal Xbox 360 RESET button. The problem with that is, if you lose all of your power by February, you can’t hit the button again for 11 months. “Ah well, I tried…now pass the chips!”
Instead of putting together resolutions, try sitting down and writing your goals for the new year on paper. It’s been proven that individuals that write down their goals are far more successful than those that don’t.
For this to work, though, your goals must be specific. Instead of, “I want to make more money” write “I want to increase my salary by $10,000”. Instead of “I want to save more” write, “I want to have $5,000 in my savings account by the end of the year.” It will be much easier for you to achieve you goals if you know specifically what you are working towards.
Don’t get caught up in trying to do things cold turkey like going on a diet or quitting smoking all of a sudden. If you take consistent baby steps toward your goal, before you know it you will have walked a great distance. Saving $5,000 in a year amounts to about 13 bucks a day. Saving 13 bucks sounds a lot easier than saving $5,000. What did you waste $13 on yesterday?
Out: Financial Stupidity
In: Financial Savvy
Let’s face it, taking out a mortgage that you couldn’t afford is as stupid as paying $150 for a $45 bottle of vodka in the club. Spending more than you make….stupid. Not saving….stupid. Paying a lot for something you could get cheaper….stupid. Only paying attention to your investments when things get bad….let’s see, oh yeah….stupid.
Come on guys, stop letting the advertising brainwash you. The economy is like a big game of tug of war between you and the mall, with your wallet in the middle. Who are you rooting for?
It’s time for you to take control of your financial life. If you have no idea how much you spend on certain things, like shopping and eating out for example, or if the only time you have any clue how your 401k is doing is when the statement comes every three months, you need some organization in your life.
First, if you have difficulty saving for things or having enough to pay all of your bills, try opening separate accounts for your different areas of spending. Since you know how much your bills are each month, put that amount in your “Bills” account. The amount you want to save each month should go into your “savings” account. What’s left is what you can spend. Don’t like that amount? Either your bills are too high or you need a new job.
To help you keep track of all of your new accounts, try using a personal finance software package like Quicken or an online version like Mint.com. Those two services do a great job of downloading all of your bank, credit card, and investment information and categorizing it for you. If you take the time to use it, you’d be surprised to find out how much of your disposable income you hand over to a guy named Jack Daniels.
Out: Bad Credit
In: Good Credit
You care a lot about what people might say about your outfit behind your back, but do you know what your lenders are saying about you? No? Well, then check your credit report and find out. You are entitled by law to a free credit report at least once a year. But don’t go to the website with the snappy jingle in the commercial. It’s true that “F-R-E-E, that spells Free”, but if you go to that website you have to enroll in a credit monitoring service to get those reports. The site you need to go to is www.annualcreditreport.com.
You are also entitled to a free report anytime you are adversely affected by something on your credit report.
Out: Job that you hate
In: Career that you love
What is the difference between recession and depression? Recession is when someone you know loses their job. Depression is when you lose yours. If you have been cut by an employer that you hated working for anyway, try to view it as a blessing. Use this time to figure out what it is that really makes you happy and figure out how you can get paid for it. Believe me, you can.
A recent front page NY Times article uncovered a guy named Michael Buckley that makes a six-figure income producing a homemade celebrity gossip show on YouTube called “What the Buck?”
Do you remember all of those things that you said you would like to do if you had the time to pursue them? Well, it looks like you have some time on your hands, now get to it!