While the holiday season is a wonderful time of year, it can also put great financial strain on individuals going into the new year. The demand of holiday spending can lead to worry of unpaid credit card bills, which can lead many to put themselves on a strict “money diet.” As you reflect on the past year and the goals you want to set for yourself, you may want to put financial wellness at the top of your list of resolutions.
But financial wellness is not just about achieving a specific dollar amount in terms of savings, advises Amanda Clayman, financial therapist and Prudential’s financial wellness advocate. Instead, Clayman recommends establishing overall healthy money habits when it comes to your finances in 2020. It’s about being both practical and less reactive when it comes to decisions around money.
Here are some tips for how you can improve your financial wellness heading into the new year.
1. Set up monthly “money dates”
“One of the smartest things we can do for our bottom line is simply reviewing our finances,” says Clayman. “Dedicate time each week or month (whatever you can do, just keep it consistent) to tackling your money management. These intentional ‘money dates’ with yourself and/or your family or partner could help you save money throughout the year.”
During your money date, review where you are in terms of your budget process, debt you are trying to reduce and your savings plan. Have unexpected expenses come up recently? Focus on how you can handle those, and better prepare yourself to cope with similar expenses in the future.
2. Be in a good headspace
Clayman acknowledges that most people find dealing with money stressful, which can cause them to avoid examining these issues or discussing them with spouses or family members.
“It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious about money from time to time,” Clayman says. “When this happens, take a break and come back to the task when you can think with a clear, productive mindset.”
Dealing with difficult money issues when you’re feeling emotionally stressed can lead to less rational decisions. Instead, review the issue when you’re more likely to be able to step back and see the big picture without overreacting.
3. Practice “Unsubscribe Sundays”
Clayman recommends that you take a few minutes every week to unsubscribe from the many promotional emails that clutter up your inbox. These might tempt you to shop impulsively when you don’t want or need to spend the money.
After the holidays is a great time to tackle this, as your online purchases may have gotten your name on a few too many email lists.
4. Get a money buddy
It can be helpful and encouraging to share your goals for the future and compare notes with someone who cares about you — and who may have experienced some of the same struggles along the way.
“This not only keeps us more accountable, but we’re able to make it fun and create a stimulating discussion,” advises Clayman. “Involve your partner, friends and family in your financial wellness journey.”
5. Keep your resolutions positive, not punishing
In an effort to achieve your financial wellness goals, focus on the positive rather than the negative. Clayman notes: “As opposed to saying you want to cut spending, think instead of what you want to put that saved money toward, and attach a specific number to it. This process will help you keep track of progress and ultimately reward you for getting there.”
This New Year’s, make money resolutions you can stick to, not just for your bottom line, but for your overall well-being and peace of mind. “Remember that the path to financial wellness is very personal and in no way linear,” says Clayman. “There’s no better time to begin the journey to a healthier money mindset than today.”
For information, advice and tools for investing in your financial wellness and establishing healthy financial habits, visit Prudential Financial.