Financial Advice Blog

Resolve to "Keep it Simple" in 2014

by Community Manager  |  Retired, Army  |  San Antonio, TX  |  ‎12-30-2013 08:40 AM


As this year draws to a close, you might be thinking about your hopes and dreams for 2014.You may even have a monster plan to bring in the New Year with a big bang. Not me, this year I’m scaling back …and maybe you should too.


I’ve given a lot of advice about resolutions and have created my own lists for years now.  But this time, I’m trying a new approach. I’m sticking to a simple plan with only one goal. For me, it’s going to be better than my past convoluted roadmaps that I could never successfully complete. Face it, I had a better chance of winning the lottery than making all those things happen. 


It’s good to think big, but I’ve decided it’s better to stay focused, fight hard and finish strong.


What’s Your One Thing?

Fortunately, if you were already on the “think big” path, the hard work is already done.  Now you’ve just go to narrow down your choices and ask, “What’s one thing that could make a big difference in my financial life if I could just pull it off?” Is it finally tackling that debt load, a budget that needs to be a guiding document for your spending and not an afterthought, or a savings plan that needs to be started or reinvigorated?  All those ideas and I haven’t even touched on exercise or eating! So, where will you direct your efforts this year?


For my family, the resolution this year is simple: We’re going to save, in advance, for all of our major financial undertakings for 2014. We’ve already had a planning session and agreed upon an approach to fund a family vacation, holiday shopping, a visit to Arrowhead Stadium (go Chiefs!), and kids’ camps.  No big last-minute budget busters this year! I’ve already done the legwork, set up the accounts and automatic transfers will begin with the first paycheck of the New Year. Bam! This year will be the first in recent memory where our New Year’s resolution becomes a reality…at least beyond January.


Visualize Success, Build a Plan and Execute

You’ve picked your goal, clearly defined success and now it’s time to map out how you’re going to get it done.  The beauty of scaling back is that you won’t need an offsite planning conference with audiovisual support and complicated diagrams to design your strategy. It may take nothing more than a pad of paper and a few minutes chatting after dinner to get everyone on track. Simple or complex, you definitely need to have the whole team paddling in the same direction. And then execute. It’s never easy (trust me, I’ve hit the snooze button on more than one exercise wake-up call), but with laser-like focus on a single outcome, financial or otherwise, my guess is that success that you visualized has a much better chance to become reality.


If you can successfully plan, execute and deliver on more than one goal this year, more power to you. But whether you’re trying to turn the corner with your finances, health or relationships, set yourself up for real success by eating the proverbial elephant one bite at a time.






by Blacksmithgirl ‎01-01-2014 06:48 AM
My big financial goal and New Years resolution for 2014 is war on overdrafts and excess fees. I have a lot of responsibilities for elderly family members and their finances as well as my own. I live out in the country and work and do a lot of volunteer work but am not a very organized person!, So. I have ended up with I am sorry to say many overdrafts from various bank accounts. As part of this program today I am going to analyze how many of these fees I received in 2013. I have opened new accounts at USAA which I willl begin using once. I have defeated this problem..I have too many bank acounts and a number of income deposits going different places but have decided to change all that.
by ROBERTRENNAKER ‎01-02-2014 03:22 AM

I want to create a budget and stick to it.  What is the best way to create a budget that works?

by EMT/Firefighting_MOM ‎01-05-2014 04:04 PM

While everyone was celebrating when the ball drop, I was reading articles and the question/answer section of USAA advice center. Have student loan debt of $20,393 (principle figure), I decided to see it as credit card debt. Once I pay off my credit card debt, I am going to send off $100 per paycheck towards my student loans. I am going to use cash to buy the indegredients for my lunch. When I have change, the coins are going into my sons piggy bank and my dollar bills is going into an savings envelope. 


Then I am going to do 1 week/$1, 2 week/$2 and so on until 52 week/$52 and that will be $1,378 yearly savings. Then I am gong to see how much MORE money I can save by not buying those 20oz pop bottles. Everytime I'm at a store I always get one for energy. Well, everytime I want one, now when I get home, I'll take that $1.69 into an account and times that about how many times I would have gotten some for that day and put it away. 


I already started christmas shopping for Christmas 2014. I bought a total of $50.00 for christmas decorations (all on clearance). Then this past Christmas all the gift bags and boxes that were used, I saved those for this Christmas (A HUGE SAVING). For Gift wrapping paper I am just going to use newspaper because nobody doesn't care about the wrapping anyways, plus it just gets rip up.... 


Making homemade babywipes save me $15/mo or $30/mo so everytime I have to make homemade baby wipes I will put the money that would have been used to buy the wipes into another acct. 


I am curious of what my actual yearly savings would be if I did that and cut some stuff out. 


Then with my tax refund check, I am going to take that in half and put half of it away. Then I am going to the other half and divide it by 12 and that will be my monthly food allowance for the whole year.  


Then I am going to grow a garden for vegetables, clip coupons, and since my grandfather owns a mechanic shop I am going to ask him if I can recycle some lawn mowers stuff that can no longer be used to be recycle for cash....


Can't wait to see how much money I can save throughout 2014... Maybe my yearly savings can be put down on my student loan debt and make smaller.... 


We'll see how this all goes....

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Scott Halliwell is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner.

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Joseph "J.J." Montanaro is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner.

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