The holidays can be a joyful time, offering a chance to reconnect with friends and family. But they can also be super stressful. You feel immense pressure to buy and give gifts. And most people are worried about money.
This year, I decided to decrease my stress level by setting a budget and sticking to it. And, for the first time in as long as I can remember I didn't spend more than I planned. I followed the old gift adage (see below) and everyone seemed pretty thrilled with the results.
- Something you Want
- Something you Need
- Something to Wear
- Something to Read
It was my favorite holiday season to date. I bought less stuff, felt less stress and was able to create wonderful experiences and memories with my family. I live in Vermont and the holidays have always been about skiing and enjoying the outdoors. This year I spent less time running around like a chicken without a head and we spent more time together; hands down my favorite moment was a family cross country ski on Christmas. You can see my youngest daughter gleefully trudging through the snow as our trusty lab Matilda trails behind her.
The New Year is a time for fresh starts. Take advantage of this annual reset and take the time to make a financial plan. I took the OnUp Mental Wealth Quiz to help me plan for the new year. I have to say I thought their suggestions were pretty spot on (see below)
“You know what? You’re doing a pretty good job. And you should feel really proud. That being said, perhaps there’s a few things you could be doing even better. You need to step back from your financial flow and examine what matters the most to you. Here is one thing you can start doing right now: Weigh the cost of an impulse buy versus spending on what matters the most to you. Even the most organized people miss a bill payment every now and then. Find one bill you can automate.”
From the Mental Wealth Quiz results, I was able to create my 2017 onUp financial goals.
- Stick to a budget: This year I am going to create a budget and stick to it. I am not going to make myself super crazy and track every dime but I am going to track the larger ticket items.
- Start paying down debts: I plan to list outstanding balances and their corresponding interest rates. Then, each month I will pay the minimum amount due on each account – except I plan to pay as much as possible on the highest-rate account or loan.
- Start building an emergency fund. This year I am committed to starting an emergency fund. I will start slowly with a few dollars each month. I plan to double that amount to $2 for the next month. I am going to Double that again a month later and keep that pattern up.
- Audit your subscriptions: Subscription services have exploded over the last few years. I plan to revisit all of my subscriptions. From Netflix to Hulu, Microsoft 360 to Apple Music, these sneaky charges add up over time.
- Cut myself some slack: I know that from time to time I may mess up. This year I wont quit entirely on my financial goals every time I mess up but rather I will try to get back on track.
With a little planning you can also gain financial confidence can decrease your financial stress levels too. Hope this was helpful and Happy 2017!
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.
The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.
Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.