Financial Resolution Check-up


We are several weeks into the New Year. This is usually the time when New Year’s resolutions start to fade away. The trips to the gym slow down. Doughnuts and soda pop re-emerge into diets. The credit card balance starts to climb again.

So how are you doing with your resolutions? If you are like most Americans, probably not good. The problem with most New Year’s resolutions is people attempt drastic action. People go from never visiting the gym to five workouts a week. Diets are radically altered. Spending goes from relaxed to miserly.

Drastic action never prevails. Motivation guru Tony Robbins often compares goal setting to his golf swing. As he tells the story, he hired a golf pro to help him with his golf swing. After numerous lessons, Tony became a solid golfer. His efforts culminated with a round of golf with the professional coach where Tony shot close to par. He was so excited at his progress he went out the very next morning with the pro.

That day, he struggled. Shots that flew straight the day before where now slicing into the woods. Tony couldn’t figure it out. His swing felt the same. He was doing precisely what his coach taught him, yet the results were drastically different. Completely frustrated, Tony finally asked his coach what he was doing wrong. The pro told Tony that his swing was fine. The problem was Tony’s grip on the club was off a few millimeters. This resulted in the club head opening up too much at contact causing a slice. This millimeter difference created an enormous variation in results as the ball sailed 200 yards down the fairway.

What does this story have to do with New Year’s resolutions? A small change in your lifestyle can yield enormous benefits over time. If you can cut 100 calories a day – the equivalent of half a soda, you will drop 10 pounds in a year. Substitute a packed lunch for eating out, and you save, on average, $2,000 per year. Take these results and extend them over a ten year period, and it can change your life.

If you started out this year attempting to drastically cut your calories or spending, maybe you should revisit your goals. Find ways to make small, manageable changes that you can maintain. Just like the golf swing, these minor changes yield big results over time.

For your finances, the most beneficial change you can make is to track your finances – spending, debt, savings. Understanding your financial picture leads to improvements.

Most people who are mired in debt do not know where their money goes each month. Yet, budgeting is a tedious task that ends as quickly as most New Year’s resolutions. You should look for a tool that can quickly provide you a financial snapshot without much effort.

Mint.com is an ideal tool for that. Without detailing the application, it automatically downloads and categorizes your expenses, savings, and transactions. This allows you to get a complete picture of your finances in 10 minutes per month – a minor time commitment that yields a considerable change.

Kirk Kinder – If you want to discover more ideas to improve your financial life without a great deal of effort, sign up for our free newsletter at www.picketfencefinancial.com.

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