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Five Steps to Your Financial Future

So now that we’re about a week into the new year, I’m sure we’ve all had a chance to think about our goals and resolutions for the new year.  Maybe you’ve picked the same resolutions you had last year because you didn’t get around to making those things happen.  It takes a lot of energy to really stick with your resolutions.  If it didn’t we would have already made these improvements in our lives.  But, there are steps we can take to make ourselves more successful than not.

I’m a big fan of The Happiness Project Blog, written by Gretchen Rubin.  I have a special place in my heart for her because like me, she’s a former lawyer who gave up practicing to pursue her passion.  But I really like her because she doles out great pieces of information to help you improve your mood and your life.

One of her more recent posts gives five tips for planning effective resolutions.  I urge anyone who has a goal but who hasn’t been able to stick with it to take a look at the post.  The post takes you through the steps of not only selecting your resolutions but coming up with a concrete plan for how that will happen.

A lot of people come to me and say “I want to feel more financially stable” or “I wish I didn’t lose sleep over money.”  But the real question is:  What does that mean for you?  Does that mean starting a 529 plan for your child?  Saving more for retirement?  Saving up an emergency fund?  Eliminating credit card debt? What specific goal(s) do you need to reach to achieve that stability or to get that good night’s sleep?

Still need some help articulating what you need to do?  Here are some important steps that you can take to get closer to achieving your 2010 financial goals:

1) Track your spending through financial software, a spreadsheet or just simple pen and paper.

2) Write down your important financial goals so that you’re reminded of them throughout the year

3) Reduce debt by creating your own payment plan and/or reaching out to your creditors to ask for reduced interest rates and payments

4) Set up an automatic savings system to get you to that six to nine month of emergency savings

5) Make sure you’re setting money aside for retirement in a 401(k), 403(b) or an IRA

6) Make it a plan for the entire family to be money conscious.  If you are changing your money habits but your husband or your children or a parent you support is spending like it’s 2007, have a talk with them about establishing new money habits. 

And finally, the most important thing is to do something!  Anything!  It can be overwhelming to overhaul your entire financial life and financial philosophy.  If you feel you’re chest seizing up when you sit down to think about your finances, pick one achievable step  and get it done.  It really is about baby steps.  And don’t be afraid get help if you need it.  There is help available to assist you in getting your money in order.  You don’t have to do it alone – but you have to do it. 

Good luck!

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