December is the time for people to get together with friends and family. It's a way for us to reset our internal clocks back to zero for the year ahead – and many people use this time of year to plan for what they're going to do for the coming year.
Resolutions can apply to things like your diet or general health, but should also apply to your finances if you want the next year to be a better one.
Here are a few good financial resolutions to make for the year 2020.
1. Budgeting for the Year
Knowing how to work out a budget down to the last cent is an essential part of being a financially responsible adult, but yet most people just feel their way through the month and hope they're going to have enough to break even and have a few drinks at the end.
Approach your new year finances with budgeting for the new year. Figure out what your expenses are versus your income, and figure out where you can find ways to reduce them.
2. Learning to Save Small Amounts
Even if you just throw your loose change into a jar every time you get back from the shop, you're doing more towards your financial future than someone who is not.
Save what you can, even if this amount doesn't seem like it adds up to much in the long run. Learn to save small amounts and good spending habits will soon turn this into a bigger amount eventually – and when you need it, you have a savings account instead of a panic attack.
3. Investing in the New Year
Saving isn't the same thing as investing. Investments grow at a faster rate than savings if you've invested in the right things.
Planning to invest in the new year can be a good thing as long as you approach investment with the aid of a qualified and registered financial expert.
Make sure you don't fall for pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing or investment, and cryptocurrency scams in the process. Always do your research!
4. Paying Loans Ahead
Most people have ups and downs during their financial year. How you handle the extra finances you have during the good months can prepare you for when you strike the bad months – and if you waste your good months, your bad months will be worse.
If you're lucky enough to have some money left over at the end of paying for everything, it might be a good idea to pay some of your loans ahead. Paying earlier than your payment date is a plus for your credit score, and it can help you to get to a better financial future sooner.
5. Increasing Your Credit Score
Your credit score tells banks and other financial providers more about some of your financial behavior. If you don't pay your loans or pay your loans late, it's a negative mark on your credit score. On the other hand, paying loans early and generally being a responsible lender is good for your credit score.
Deciding at the beginning of the year that you're going to work on increasing your credit score counts in your favor for the rest of it.
6. Clutter to Cash
Be honest: Do you have anything in your house or garage that you haven't used in the past six months and that you might have forgotten was there? The new year is a good time to take a look at all of the stuff you've accumulated and decide what to get rid of.
Most people have clutter, and most people can turn this into cash they could use to start a better new year.
Make use of classifieds websites to sell off the things you aren't using and use some of this money to even out your credit. If you do this, you might even be able to start the new year on a more positive note.
Anything else that's still in good condition and you don't want to sell but still want to get out of the way, donate to a good cause.
Alex J. Coyne
Alex J. Coyne is a writer, journalist and card player. He's been published in international publications including Moneyweb, CollegeHumor, Funds for Writers, Great Bridge Links, Bridge Canada Magazine and a variety of others