Resolution Time

Jim Ludwick, CFP®
Contributor

It's the end of the year. A new year looms in just a few days. Imagine that.

Who would have thought last Christmastime we would be where we are now?

Did you set any goals last year, or are you like most of us who have those good intentions, but they seem to be mostly gone by February?

My job as a financial writer is to inspire and educate you. Let's try inspiration and follow up with a little education.

Here are some resolutions to consider for 2017 along with an idea of how you might achieve them to help yourself and others, too.

• First, how about starting a gratitude journal? Take a moment each day or week and write down what's happened to you that you remember as being very good or fortunate. This idea came to me just a few days ago from a money psychotherapist I work with who uses it to almost completely write her annual holiday letter. I saw all the things she was grateful for and was envious how happy she is for 2010. On reflection, I'm happy too, but never took the time to write it down and share it with friends and loved ones.

• Next, try reducing a budget item, say gasoline for example, by 20 percent. Don't have a budget? There are lots of systems out there to track your expenses. I like mint.com. There are other online and pen and paper systems. Just Google budgeting and you'll find plenty. After several months, you can identify a likely target and work on significant savings.

• Open a charity savings account linked to your checking account and set up paycheck related withdrawals to fund those new charity savings. How much? You could use the amount you saved on the one budget item (remember the gasoline savings above?) to come up with a goal.  Now you can pick a new local, and a new international charity to contribute to using special savings account funded from your reduced expenses.  

• See how these things are tying together? How about resolving to find a new volunteer position in our community? There are lots of locally based groups waiting for your approach.

• How about inventing/expanding a family event or outing? What would please your nuclear or extended family? I'm expanding our beach vacation over Memorial Day by inviting more friends and family than ever before. I'm excited to be planning this and seeing what fun we have achieve.

• How about adding a new skill this year? What have you been putting off that beginning in 2011 can help you accomplish? I want to learn Italian over again this year. I took my last lesson 35 years ago and that skill is long gone. How about you

• How about asking your friends to donate to your favorite charity on your birthday rather than giving you a gift or another treat?  I tried this recently and raised some significant cash for a wonderful organization using Facebook as my medium of contact and promotion.

• And finally, as a new component to achieving success on your resolutions for 2017, put together an accountability group. The group will get daily/weekly/monthly reports from you so they can keep up with your goals and cheer you on to the finish line. I started one last summer for my weight loss goal and plan on expanding it to my other goals for 2017.

So, in summary: start a gratitude journal, reduce one expense, give to two new charities using payroll deduction into your new charity savings account, find a new volunteer role, plan or expand a family event/outing, learn a new skill, ask your friends to honor you by donating to your favorite charity, and put a cheering section together to motivate you to accomplishing what you set out to do in 2017.

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