Prepare Your 2009 Finances Today

by Kevin on December 16, 2008

There are about two weeks left in 2008. It’s been a crazy year, especially over the last few months. I’ve got some bad news: there is absolutely nothing you can do to change the past 50 weeks of the year. And if you want to change 2008 you had best do it quickly — that time is running short as well.

In the same manner, now is the time to prepare for 2009. Don’t wait until January 1st when you come up with some ridiculous goals that aren’t tied to reality (make $1 million next year, lose 125 pounds, etc.).

Take the time to sit down and look at what you can reasonably expect to accomplish next year. Planning will lead to your success — not wishful thinking. Hope is good for many things, but accomplishing financial goals is not one of them.

You’ll need some tools to get you to the end of your journey. Here are tools we use:

  • A budget. An understanding of what your monthly spending is. (Note, for the budget-fearful out there — a spending plan is the same thing as a budget.) Give every dollar a name.
  • Goals. Sounds simple enough. Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish in 2009?” Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. — I’ve talked about SMART goals in the past. In fact they are the third pre-step in my No Debt Plan.
  • Constant communication. I don’t run off and make major financial decisions without my wife. If you’re not married, why not connect with your roommate or a friend? Both of you could set goals and let the other person be the accountability partner. Set some sort of meeting schedule — weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
  • Set incentives for yourself. This is where I think a lot of people could see success. Put your money where your mouth is. Give yourself a reward/punishment on whether you hit your goals or not. If you hit all of your major goals, you’ll take $100 and go shopping. If you fail, you’ll give the $100 to your friend or a charity you don’t particularly like. Having an accountability partner here is also fun — they make sure you actually do what you say you are going to do.
  • Your financial statements. As you plan for next year, these paper printouts (or hopefully electronically viewed archived statements) can be golden nuggets of information to guide you through the past year. When I first start helping people that I know with budgets, the first thing I make them do is grab all of their bank and credit card statements for the last three months. The simple act of sitting down and looking where you have spent your money in the past can be a great guide for what you can expect in 2009. (Then again it can also be shocking and force you to make some serious changes.)

There are a bunch of other tools you can use, but these should be a good start.

Are you ready for 2009? What other tools would you recommend? Leave a comment and share with everyone.

{ 1 comment }

Petrina Ensley July 5, 2011 at 12:42 am

Thanks very a lot for this nice post;this is the kind of factor that keeps me going via these day. I’ve been wanting around for this site after being referred to them from a buddy and was happy when I discovered it after looking for some time. Being a avid blogger, I’m completely happy to see others taking initivative and contributing to the community. Just wished to remark to indicate my appreciation in your article as it’s very appleaing, and many writers do not get authorization they deserve. I am positive I’ll drop by once more and will suggest to my friends.

Comments on this entry are closed.