Do You Need a Financial New Year’s Resolution?

Welcome to my very first blog posting! Since I am launching this site at the beginning of the year, it seems fitting to post my recommendations for New Year’s resolutions. Of our many cultural traditions, the annual writing down of our self-imposed vows to improve or completely overhaul our lives is one of the most fascinating of our national past times!

I have to admit that I have never been a person too enamored with the “resolution” tradition. My lack of enthusiasm especially applies to recommendations commonly suggested by many financial websites. Much of this advice, while perfectly sound, could be offered and implemented at any time of the year and will likely not inspire you to really keep those promises during the upcoming year!

For this first blog, I found myself faced with a decision: Do I join the Financial “New Year’s Resolution” party and offer my own “top ten” (or whatever number of tips) for financial success to start 2012? Or do I become a financial “party pooper” and skip it all together? Fortunately, the choice turned out not to be that stark!

Do You Need a Financial New Year’s Resolution?It seems to me that the start of a New Year provides a chance to look at things from a broader perspective. I recommend an introspective approach to the New Year by looking at various parts of your life. Get out a pen and paper, ask yourself the following questions, and write out your answers:

  • Am I happier now than I was this time last year?
  • What goals did I achieve in the last 12 months?
  • Which goals did I fail to achieve?
  • How does my financial situation look compared to last year?
  • How satisfied am I with my career and my income?
  • What progress have I made in my career?
  • How good are my relationships with my people in my company? Business partners? Coworkers? Customers?
  • How fulfilled do I feel?
  • How is my relationship with my spouse/partner? With my children? With my friends?

Answering these questions will give you the chance to figure out where you stand and where you want to go. The purpose of the exercise is to not beat yourself up about what you didn’t accomplish, but to non-judgmentally understand what is working well and what could change in various aspects of your life.

After you write down your answers, think about and then document your personal, professional and financial goals for 2012. This process is especially important for people going through some sort of change because what you want may have changed.

You should separately write down your specific financial goals for the year, but I think you will find this process easier when they are created against the backdrop of other things that you want in life.

Think about this activity as your “resolution” for what you will do in 2012! This will be far more beneficial than if I were to advise you open an IRA account or to avoid spending $1,000 on buying Cafe Latte’s at Starbuck’s. Besides, if the Latte’s make you happy, I say drink ‘em (unless you are putting yourself in financial peril)!

Now about that IRA account……

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