It’s the beginning of the new year, and you’re probably gearing up for the rest of 2016 with resolutions and plans to start fresh in a few areas of your life.
There’s a reason why every machine at the gym has been occupied for the last few weeks, why your church sanctuary might look a little fuller on Sundays, and why so many people spend January throwing extra cash at their credit card debt.
We all start the year with good intentions! But if we don’t think through how we’re actually going to reach our goals, well, we often wave the white flag way before we should.
Luke 14:28 (NKJV) cautions us to think through our plans before we tackle them so that we’re actually able to finish: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it.”
If taking control of your money is one of your goals in 2016 and you didn’t make a plan in December, you need to start planning now. Don’t be the guy or gal whose drive fizzles a few months in. Be the one who’s still building that tower—in 2017.
So, are you ready to get started?
First, read through this quick article on how to set goals you can actually achieve. Then, think through these three hard questions now so you have a plan you can stick with for the rest of the year.
1. Where do I want to be financially at this time next year?
Take a second to close your eyes. Now imagine yourself better off, money-wise, by the next New Year’s Day. What does that look like? Depending on where you are now and just how crazy you want to get, you might have made a dent in your consumer debt, or you might be coasting through a fully funded retirement plan and gearing up to finally pay off your house. You’ll set yourself up for success by having a solid, definable goal in mind with a timeline in place to reach it.
Use the 7 Baby Steps as an outline to help you break down your goals into tiny, bite-size pieces. Now pull out your calendar and start dreaming!
2. How can I kick-start dumping debt for good?
The key to freeing yourself from debt is making a budget and sticking to it. Are you ready to do that every month for the rest of your life? It’s a commitment, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty simple, and it can actually be fun!
Once you have a budget, you have to change your perspective on debt. You have to hate it. We mean really, truly despise it. That’ll make you pay it off fast and avoid even more. If you have that mindset, you can say sayonara to debt forever.
That also means you might have to delay some things you really, really want! But if you slog through the painful stuff now, you’ll reap the rewards later. As Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV) says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”
3. What are my biggest financial obstacles?
Change isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would be debt-free, and none of us would need Christ! That’s why you need to identify what’s held you back in the past and attack those obstacles head on. Do you spend money you don’t have? Is your accountability partner MIA? Does an endless stream of emergencies drag you back into debt as soon as you’ve gotten out?
Identify your weaknesses or stumbling blocks so you can protect yourself from them when you’re feeling tempted or backed into a corner.
A class like Financial Peace University can teach you how to identify and overcome your own financial obstacles. And for a more personalized plan, consider meeting with a financial coach who can offer an independent perspective to help you reach your goals.
So, now that you’ve faced the hard questions, are you ready to make 2016 your best money year yet? With the right level of determination, a little bit of planning, and a whole lot of prayer, you can do it!