My husband and I were watching the new David O. Russell film American Hustle this last weekend. In one scene two of the characters are listening to a Duke Ellington piece that starts off with a dramatic flourish. Christian Bale’s character laments that nobody makes music like that anymore.
In art, there’s power in a first impression. Writers are taught to begin in the middle of the drama, not at the beginning, for maximum effect.
You can do that with your money, too.
By starting off 2014 with a financial “bang!” you can focus on your craft, your family, ways to earn a side income…whatever. You’ll have more money, more time, and less painful drama. (Although I love drama on the big screen, I DON’T love it in my personal life.)
Let me teach you three great ways to start 2014 like you’re in the middle of the action, with your income, your budget and your savings:
- One Big Income tip: Put the ball in someone else’s court.Think of three opportunities to make money that involve others, and send them an email or make a quick phone call to get the ball rolling. Why? You’ll be amazed at what happens when you take action and move the ball to someone else.To quote my high school science teacher, “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.” By making that first call or sending that first email, you’re setting up a chain of events that didn’t exist moments earlier.
Consider the game of tennis. When you hit the ball over to the other side successfully, you don’t have to worry about it until (and IF) the other player hits it back to you. In fact, you can’t score points when you have to hit the ball…only lose points. It’s when the other person has the ball that you score in tennis. It’s the same in life with your income. You can’t make anything happen with your income if you don’t force others to consider a proposal.
Big Idea #1 for 2014: Reach Out To Others With Ideas That Involve You
- One Huge Budget tip: Begin tracking your expenses in 2014…and review it regularly.If you’re old enough to drive a car, you know how valuable the dashboard is when you’re trying to go anywhere. It’s the same for your goals…you need to create and pay attention to your dashboard to successfully navigate 2014.You’re going to need to know where your money is going to find ways to save…but who has time for a budget? Not me. So, I use tools like Quicken, Mint.com, or even a spreadsheet, to track how I spend money (even some big banks and credit card companies now offer tools to help you track your money).
Set up weekly times to review your expenses. If you budget with a partner or spouse, review everything together. Good budgets are about everyone in the family knowing how money is spent and living the next week toward your goals, not against them.
Big Idea #2 for 2014: Find tools to make income and expense tracking easy and then monitor them against your goals so you’ll rock at saving money.
- One Tremendous Savings Tip: Save money without thinking about it. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal productivity has increased over 23% in the last ten years. That means the average person is accomplishing nearly a quarter more work today than in 2003.While that’s amazing, it also uncovers a truth that you already know: you’re overworked and short on time. At the end of a long, stressful day, who wants to think about saving? Yet, if you don’t save, you’ll never be able to own your future.
So, the key is to save without thinking about it.
Inquire if your bank will allow you to direct deposit money into a separate account for emergencies and holidays. You’ll be better off if you don’t have to touch the credit cards when your dishwasher breaks down or you need a vacation.
Set up an automatic deposit into a mutual fund. Most fund families will allow as little as $100 per month into a fund. If it’s automatic, you won’t have to think about writing a monthly check.
Sign up for a Roth IRA or 401k plan. If your workplace has a 401k or similar plan, by all means, use this for retirement because it’ll give you tax deferred money. Outside of work, check into a Roth IRA. Money grows tax free in a Roth, so although you’ll pay taxes now, you’ll always have this money (and the growth) without tax repercussions later. (There are some specific rules to Roth IRA contributions and withdrawals. Here’s the IRS web page to give you the details.
Big Idea #3: You’ll save TONS of money in 2014 if you make it automatic.
There they are! My three big ideas to help you light a fire under 2014.
Happy New Year, Abundance Bound family – let’s make this a great one!