Deciding to get a fresh start with your money can feel like an overdue decision that fills you with excitement and optimism. Now let’s use that optimism to join millions of people setting goals this year. But in your planning, we’d like you also to consider the potential missteps on your quest to achieve those goals.
Statistics show almost every resolution set this year will be about money or health. They’re the resolution “superstars,” which indicates that they’re important areas for most people. And truth be told, our health and our wealth greatly affect every day of our lives and the degree to which we’re able to help those we love.
Before you can prosper from your newly minted financial resolutions, it’s wise to take a good look at the months ahead. Consider these five money mistakes that can derail your well-intended financial resolutions:
Not Using Technology
If you’re not using technology to help you achieve your financial goals, you’re missing an easy win. Technology can help you “set it and forget it” when it comes to saving, donating, and checking in about your goals.
There are lots of apps and most of them are free. One we really love is called Qapital. If you purchase something for $2.50 it will round up to $3 and take that difference and stick it in a savings account for you. The average savings is about $44 a month. If you do that for a full year you will have saved about $550, which could cover your whole Christmas budget.
Apps like Honeydue and Honeyfi promote communication about spending decisions. Both allow you to sync credit cards and bank accounts to your dashboard, mark them as joint or individual accounts, and share transactions and balances. Put technology to work for you.
It can be tempting not to deal with your money because it feels too stressful or emotional, but head-in-the-sand money management will not help you reach your goals and it opens the door for ugly surprises.
Sit down with your spouse and start with the basics: What is your income? How much is in savings? What are your monthly expenses? How much debt do you have? Do you have an emergency cash account?
Once you have a clear picture, you can make informed choices and set some goals to improve the areas that need help.
Fussing Instead of Discussing
You can’t escape money; we spend it every day fueling our cars, filling our bellies, and incurring lots of other expenses.
With each decision, a potential misunderstanding or disagreement exists. But you can choose to communicate instead of arguing about money. Anticipate the areas that push your buttons, identify unhealthy patterns you fall into as a couple, and learn your Money Personalities.
Choose to communicate instead of arguing about money this year.
Avoiding Money Meetings
We know — it doesn’t sound like a blast. But fighting or worrying about money isn’t a picnic either. So why not set aside some time on the calendar to have quarterly or — even better — monthly meetings?
Keep the tone positive and work together. Two rowers in a boat will always beat the solo rower in a race. Take 45 minutes and look at your facts. Then share with your spouse your family needs. What season is coming up? Do you spend more in summer? Are your spending needs greater at Christmas? Discuss your dreams. What good are the riches God gives us if we can’t dream about the blessings He provides?
Find a new restaurant, hit a cozy coffee shop, or hunker down at the kitchen table, but be more intentional about your money this year.
Forgetting What Matters Most
If you hear nothing else, keep your finances in perspective. Your money management strategy is off the rails if you forget the role money has in our lives. It isn’t the most important thing and it never should be. Your relationships matter far more than any paycheck ever will.
“No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matt. 6:24).
God knew we’d struggle with greed and money, that’s why there are so many verses in the Bible dealing with it. Don’t forget what matters most in your life. Money can be lost and more can be earned, but relationships are eternal and priceless.
Don’t let money mistakes derail your plans for making the best of this year God has given us.
This article is adapted from HomeLife Magazine.