Resolutions are the worst way to start off the New Year, especially in personal finance.
Although there are exceptions, most people don’t work on the “one-and-done” plan. We don’t wake up one day — whether it’s Jan. 1, or any other day — and simply and easily change a habit we’ve cultivated for years. In fact, those habits have not appeared overnight.
The difficulty in establishing New Year’s resolution is coupled with a tendency to become depressed when we don’t achieve a goal immediately.
Here’s the scenario: you make a resolution to change something — let’s say you want to start saving money by not eating out — a few weeks later, you realize you’ve gone out to a restaurant a few days in a row. Instead of laughing off the behavior and righting yourself, you become depressed. Then apathetic. Then, you figure, what the hell, you haven’t achieved your goals, so you might as well quit trying.
That’s why you might want to consider automatic. An automatic resolution is something that you can set up to help you achieve your personal financial goals. Here are a few examples:
Setting up the automatic delivery of personal financial email newsletters is an easy way to make sure you are continually learning about managing your money and these are awesome ways to remind you to pay attention to your financial decisions. Here are a few I like:
You can also use RSS feeds to automate your lessons in personal finance.
Automatic Retirement Plans
If preparing for the future is one of your resolutions, the first thing you should do in January is either sign up for your company’s retirement plan, updating your retirement plan, or starting an automatic IRA plan.
Automatic Investment Plans
Do you want to become a more active stock investor? One way to ease into that is through an automatic stock plan. You can try a direct dividend reinvestment plan — or DRIPs. These plans that are usually administered through the company that you invest in will automatically take any dividends you earn and purchase additional shares.
Here’s a great resource: Direct Investing
Another way to automatically invest is to set up an account in a service that will take money every month and invest it in plans that deduct money monthly from a cash account and purchase stocks. If you’re not crazy about the potential for stocks to grow in the next couple years, most of these services allow you to buy ETFs. Sharebuilder is one company that handles these types of transactions. Buy And Hold is another.
Investing is just one side of the personal financial equation. There are some other factors that you should consider; for example: saving money.
You can use online sites after you create a shopping list to see if there are any coupons or savings for the items on your list. Try this one: Shop At Home.
Most personal financial experts say you should create a list of needs first. If you shop a coupon site directly, you may end up spending more because the coupons serve as added incentive to buy things you don’t need. Which is why companies issue the things in the first place.
Make More Money
Another way to automatically follow-up on your resolutions is to sign up for newsletters, RSS feeds, or join Facebook groups that share freelance job opportunities. Freelancing is one way you can generate more revenue. Here’s a good list of sites that specialize in freelance jobs:
Start Up Your Startup
If you’re thinking of starting a business, stay connected with the idea by drawing on some regular inspiration at Startup Digest, or some other business newsletter. That constant flow of information will also serve as a reminder that the best day to start a startup is today!
Enjoy the new year!
And stay inspired!