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New Year’s Resolution – part 1

If you made a New Year’s Resolution, was it geared towards your financial wellness?

If it wasn’t, or you didn’t make one at all it’s not too late, in fact it’s never too late.

Thankfully today experts understand there is a powerful correlation between our financial wellbeing and our general wellbeing.

We know that toxic levels of financial stress impacts us in many different ways, it affects our relationships, our self-esteem, our social life, our productivity at work, even our physical health.

That’s why it’s appropriate to set New Year’s Resolutions for our finances — and also our related behaviours.

There’s every chance 2023 will be another tough year as the cost of living, and interest rates rising to uncomfortable levels.

One well accepted method is to introduced measurable positive goals for the year ahead.

Tracking our progress helps return some sense of control, and leaves us better able to deal with what happens as it happens.

Here are some suggestions to help you kick off 2023 in a positive way.

BECOME SELF-AWARE OF YOUR FINANCIAL POSITION

A great way to break through the murkiness of money problems is to answer some simple no-nonsense questions.

Even if it’s a little scary, you should be clearer afterwards and probably more motivated too.

So wherever you keep track of important inventories in your life – be it a journal, diary, planner or an app, answer each of these questions:

    • Are your savings going up or down? What direction are your finances are headed in?
    • Have you had trouble paying basic bills and/or making normal repayments?
    • What are your financial goals and do you fully understand your finances?
    • Are you ok with being in the same position financially a year from now and five years from now?
    • Do you ever feel distracted because of your finances, including during work hours?
    • How often do you impulse spend on things you don’t need and/or aren’t healthy for you? When did I last do this? How many times in the past month has this happened?
    • Are you financially healthy but feel stressed and/or down about it anyway and why is that?
    • Do you ever experience conflict or feel anger because of your finances?
    • What steps are you taking to address your financial issues? If none, what is holding you back?

Spend at least thirty minutes on this and try to share the answers with someone you trust.

Write down at least one key action point after each answer. Give yourself a date to try and get that done.

TRACK YOUR SPENDING

“Spend less, save more” is on just about everyone’s list of New Year’s Resolutions, every year.

It’s a great goal, but a more specific objective that will help you work towards that goal is to carefully track all your spending – on a daily basis.

Use an app, a spreadsheet or write it down on paper. Whichever method suits you best, just make sure it’s a full record of spending.

Do it for a week, perfecting it, then keep doing it for a month.

Clear patterns will emerge which will help you to keep a realistic budget.

Keep doing it – this is one of the best habits anyone who feels financial stress can build.

REDUCE THE ‘NOISE’

There are just too many distractions in the world today.

To have any hope of living more mindfully, and sustaining financial resilience and overall wellbeing, we need to reduce the white noise in life.

Here are some suggestions:

    • Reduce your social media use. Cut back and make the time you spend on social media more meaningful. For example, congratulate friends on life events and achievements instead of getting dragged into debates. Post pictures and stories of something you are proud of. If you really struggle with social media, turn off notifications and set digital wellbeing timers;
    • Be wary of online news.There’s an old saying that still holds true in the news business: if it bleeds, it leads. News organisations have a vested interest in bad news and scandals and that cannot be good for anyone’s state of mind. Be aware of that before you click: news sites count on a natural human curiosity to witness dramatic events;
    • Plan your distractions. It’s ok to switch off and escape mentally for a while, in fact it’s essential with the pressures in life. Plan ahead for how to ‘escape’ and make an agreement with yourself to eliminate or minimise unhealthy behaviours and stick to your limits. For example, watching a movie or two episodes of your favourite Netflix show is very different from bingeing until 2am. Try one glass of wine on a Friday instead of two each night. Listen to a podcast on a walk instead of snacking;
    • Monitor and reduce screen use. Are you seeing more human faces on screens than in person, can you replace with real contact? Does your screen use feel compulsive? Do you wish you could turn something off but can’t seem to? Do you have blurred vision, neck pain, headaches, irritability and trouble sleeping? These are all signs of excessive screen time;
    • Don’t reply to everyone. It was true of email ten years ago and it’s true of all forms of digital communication today. We are not saying ignore people in need, but answer what you have to. You can’t always please everyone;
    • Aim for five minutes of complete silence each day. No screens, no music, no audio at all, no talking. Yes, it’s an old-fashioned idea but just try: it’s powerful. In that five minutes notice how your body feels.

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