The truth is that overall 2016 was a great year financially, no matter what some people had to say. Unemployment was very low, the stock market thrived, fewer people lost their jobs from major corporations (who remembers the end of 2008 & the beginning of 2009 when tens of thousands at a time were losing their jobs?).

living well financially

If that’s the case, then why do so many people think the economy was bad? Actually, there are two reasons.

The first is that there are multiple communities where jobs that were lost almost a decade ago weren’t replaced by jobs that paid people at the same level, and those people didn’t want to leave their homes to find better paying jobs.

The second is that many people don’t have any kind of direction when it comes to managing their money, so it feels like they’re struggling to pay bills, have fun, and do what they want to do.

I feel you; honest I do. Losing my job in 2001 was why I decided to go independent. My career has been up and down based on the economy, and it’s not always easy. However, I do have some tools and rules that I live by, which I’m passing along here to offer at least an opportunity to get you thinking about how you might push forward on your financial goals for the upcoming year.

1. Increase Income

Why are you still sitting there doing the same thing year after year without trying to improve your situation? If you’re lucky, you’ll be eligible for a 2% raise at some point during the year; have you ever calculated just how much that is? Not much when compared to the cost of living, rising taxes, the other things you like to buy increasing in cost.

I’m not going to advocate giving up your job… well, not really. It’s the first viable option though, changing companies to get a raise. Sure, you’ll be back in the same position a year from now but maybe if you do some of the things mentioned below you’ll be better off.

Of course there are other ways of increasing income. You could get a part time job. You could sell homemade products or get hooked up with some kind of MLM business. You could do some kind of training or other side business. Thinking of ways to make more money instead of sitting home watching… well, whatever the popular TV shows are these days (I rarely turn the TV on), can only benefit you long term. Who knows; you might even find yourself making enough money to go on your own full time; who would complain about that?

2. Invest Something

Saving and Investing Street Sign On Wall Street
Creative Commons License Investment Zen via Compfight

I’ll admit that I’m not very big on investing after losing almost all of my money market investment in 2009. I’m turning a page for 2017 and in January I’m going to be investing at least $1,500 into some kind of plan to get going. I’ll be hoping for an interest rate of at least 3% annually, which in my estimation is reasonable, although I’d love for it to be higher.

The thing about investing money is that if you do it right and the economy cooperates you don’t have to do anything except watch your money grow. My problem in 2009 was twofold; the economy was failing and I was trusting my financial advisor to keep me informed of everything that was going on… without realizing that he’d actually left the company and that no one was watching my money anymore. That’s a major lesson; if you invest, check on it, follow it, and ask questions if you need reassurance.

3. Set Up A Budget

People in general hate budgets because they feel they’re constricting. It’s the wrong way to view one’s money. It’s always better to know where you stand financially with a budget because it’s the one time you’re totally in control of your money.

With a budget you really know how much money you’re bringing home. With a budget you know exactly what your normal bills are. You might even find out that you’re making plenty of money and just haven’t been allocating it properly. At the very least you should be balancing your checkbook every 3 months or so, whether or not you’re writing checks anymore.

4. Get Health Care Coverage

This one’s going to cost you some money, but it’s also going to save you some money. The ACA is still in effect, which means that if you don’t have insurance coverage in 2017 it’s going to cost you 2.5% of your total household adjusted gross income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, to a maximum of $2,085.

Yutah I would like to make a deposit please.
Yutahthewolamute via Compfight

Here’s the thing about having health insurance. Even if you have a high deductible, health providers are obligated to reduce your outstanding bill down to the level agreed upon with the insurance companies. Also, if you have a catastrophic illness, the insurance plan protects you from owing hundreds of thousands of dollars, which can accumulate quickly in some communities across the country. It’s better to be protected than not.

5. Get Comfortable Talking And Thinking About Money

Many people will talk about things they’d love to have if they had the money to buy or do them, but they never really sit down and think or talk about money. It’s probably more of a taboo subject than sex in America; that’s saying something.

I’m not saying we should sit around discussing how much we make because that’s not productive at all. I am saying that when we’re by ourselves or with our family that there should be discussions on wants and needs, the money available for each and whether more money is wanted or needed. Saying you want to live comfortably as a goal is a myth because it’s undefined. Does comfortable mean you want to be able to buy a new car every 4 years or so, maybe go on a vacation once a year. Do you already have the money for that or do you need more?

When you talk with others, the same types of conversation should take place. You’ll either find other people in the same position as you or people who’ve figured out a way to have what they want.

Many people believe that money is the root of all evil. The true phrase is “the love of money” is the root of all evil. That phrase means that if all you think about is money, you don’t care how you get it, which could lead you into doing bad things to get it and hurting people. Money itself can be life saving and life transforming. You can not only help yourself and your family but others if you’re of a mind to do so.

The steps above will help you move in the right direction. For more things, go through this blog or other financial sites that talk about personal finance. Get comfortable thinking and talking about money and your finances. As Dr. Phil says, we can’t fix what we won’t acknowledge. 🙂
 

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