There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a year for the history books – we’ve all in some way had to adjust our lives and reassess our priorities. Looking forward, we need to apply our learnings and enter the new year with a fresh perspective about the things that matter most. Naturally, finances are a big focus for a lot of people, as the past few months have seen mass job cuts and unexpected expenses, emphasizing the importance of having an emergency fund.
While New Year’s is the optimal time to commit to a change, 80 percent of all NYE resolutions fail, often because we’re overly ambitious with our plans. But when it comes to finances, you can avoid failing early by setting aside some time to review your spending, calculate a budget, and educate yourself on the best next steps. Plus, because finances are quantifiable, it’s easier to set clear monthly targets to ensure that you make real progress throughout the year.
Nearly one-third of Americans made a financial New Year’s resolution last year, and that figure is probably going to be much higher this year. Some of the most common resolutions were to save money (48 percent) and to spend less money (15 percent).
Here are some of the most popular financial resolutions, and how to put them into practice in 2021:
Growing your savings and creating wealth are some of the hardest resolutions to commit to, but they’re definitely within reach. This one will require a lot of discipline, but the payoff is well worth the effort.
First, conduct a deep dive of your finances – review every expense you’ve made by scanning through bank statements, subscription emails, and the receipts in your wallet. Ask yourself if your life is negatively impacted without it. You’ll need to be brutally honest about what’s essential and what’s a luxury, which means clearly defining your priorities. Ask yourself: ‘how often do I use this?’, ‘does it improve my life?’, and ‘can I afford it right now?’. If the answers are ‘no’ put them on your non-essentials list.
If you’re unsure, could compare your expenses with a friend or colleague to see what items or services you purchase while they do not.
Once you’ve pinpointed all the things you can do without, sum up their total worth and subtract any debts or direct debits you need to pay. The final figure should be what you aim to save each year, which you can divide by 12 to get your monthly target. If the amount is lower than you’d anticipated, it’s worth considering another source of income to boost it – for example, teaching online, picking up freelance work via sites including Upwork and Fiverr, or selling unused items.
To save money, you have to spend less money, which takes us to our next resolution.
Spend less money
It’s one thing to list non-essentials, it’s another to convince yourself you can do without those feel-good spends when they’re within grabbing distance. When you’re out and about, aim to cut back by converting the prices of things into working hours. For example, the cinema ticket you buy every Friday could be the equivalent of one hour’s work, is it worth it? Or look at it as a slice of your savings goals. If you want to put aside $100 per month, your weekly film would take a 10 percent chunk out of that, forcing you to save on something that is perhaps more meaningful.
Being strict with yourself is a big part of reducing your spending, and if you really struggle, most banks have an option to place limits on your daily transactions. That said, keep in mind that lowering your credit limit could affect your credit score. Alternatively, you could also leave your credit and debit cards at home when you go out or assign yourself weekly ‘zero expense’ days, where you’re not allowed to buy anything.
Now, you need to have a safe and smart place to put that growing pile of money. A savings account at a bank would be many people’s first choice, but this option can actually dilute the value of your money as inflation means that you need more money to buy the same goods over time. Instead, gold is a more secure, more stable way to save.
With the CORO app, you can directly exchange U.S. dollars for gold, so you have complete control over the amount you want to save and when. If you build up a routine where you set aside a few dollars to buy gold every month, you’ll soon have significant gold savings to fall back onto if you need it.
Be financially resilient
Being financially resilient means being prepared and protected during turbulent times – something many people have learned the hard way during the COVID-19 crisis. Perhaps surprisingly, most Americans don’t have sufficient savings to cover an unexpected $1,000 bill. That could cause immediate disarray to their personal and professional lives if they were forced to pay a fresh medical bill, or home or car repairs.
A core element of financial resilience is tracking your cash flow. Make a conscious effort to review your bank account statement(s) weekly. Set a regular reminder on your calendar if it helps. If you prefer paying in cash, whenever you buy something, write down what it was and how much it cost. Then group your payments by category and note if the amounts are one-off or recurring payments like a subscription fee. This type of inventory will give you the visibility to really understand where you’re employing risky financial behavior – like sporadic payments that you can’t plan ahead for – versus where your behavior is measured, manageable, and therefore adaptable if necessary.
Build an emergency fund
Nearly 25 percent of Americans have absolutely no emergency savings, despite the fact that more than half of homeowners experience an emergency home repair in the course of a year.
Experts recommend that everyone should have a fund tucked away to cover living expenses for three to nine months. But even those who do have a fund tend to save using fiat currencies which can be volatile, depreciate, and are subject to inflation. Again, a better alternative is to harness the stability of gold and build an emergency fund using the precious metal.
With the CORO app, you can directly purchase gold in a few clicks, and track the value of that gold on a daily basis. If you’re unfamiliar with gold and want to test the waters, you can buy amounts from as low as $5, and as you build confidence, you can assign a day every month to expand your gold ownership. Not only will you gain the momentum required for a substantial emergency fund, if you start now, but you can also end 2021 with a solid financial foundation.
Financial resolutions are never easy but they do reflect a clear desire from people to improve their money management and financial security – which are things everyone can achieve. Remember, with the right knowledge, commitment, and confidence, your financial resolution can soon become a reality.