Personal Finance & The New Year

FireworksHappy 2013! With the start of a new year, I get the privilege of helping my clients create their personal finance plans. New Year’s resolutions that focus on money run the gamut of getting out of debt to saving for a special purchase. This is the perfect time of year to think about what you want to achieve in 2013 and lay out the steps to get there.

Your 2013 Personal Finance Plan

Recently my local CBS news station interviewed me on getting fiscally fit in the new year. Appropriately it aired on New Year’s Day! While the topic of the segment was creating a personal finance plan in 2013, they also interviewed average consumers about their spending habits.

Starbucks FreakOne guy said that it was too much of a hassle to make a lunch. He was willing to spend an extra $1000 a year for the convenience. Depending upon where you pick up your midday meal, that expense could be closer to $2000 or more.

The important point here is awareness. If you consciously choose to spend your discretionary income on things like Starbuck’s lattes and take-out sandwiches, that’s fine. It’s the unconscious and untracked spending that can adversely derail your personal finance plan. I highly recommend using a personal finance software like:

  • Quicken – great for tracking family financial management
  • QuickBooks – a better choice for small business financial management

While there are free programs out there (e.g., Mint.com), I prefer the security and reports that Intuit products provide. Shop around and find one that works for you and your family. If you don’t use the tool by consistently downloading your account activity and reviewing it regularly, it won’t do you or your personal finance plan any good.

So, spend a bit of time in the next few days and write down your personal finance goals for 2013. Bask in the remaining glow of the holiday season before those January credit card statements arrive.

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