For many of us, 2016 was a doozy but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2017! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January for new ideas, hacks and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.
New Year, new you! Among resolutions like foam rolling regularly after workouts, learning to love being single or landing your first job as a manager, saving more money is a 2017 priority for a lot of us. We talked with Ashley Feinstein Gerstley of The Fiscal Femme to put together the perfect 10-step money cleanse that’ll flush out all of your bad financial habits and keep you on track all year long. Read on to cash in and start saving like never before.
1. Find your motivation. Ashley tells us that the first and (most important!) step to kicking off your New Year’s money cleanse is to identify your motivation for getting financially fit. “What will you get out of it? Why do you want to do this?” she asks. It could range from not wanting to live paycheck to paycheck anymore (the stress!) or saving for a down payment on a house. Your answers will drive the positive steps you’ll take to your financial wellness.
2. Make the time to budget weekly. Ashley says, “One of the most common reasons people tell me they don’t make progress with their money goals is that they don’t have time.” She agrees that time is a limited but reminded us that it’s all about *what* we pick as priorities. “Think back to your motivation,” she instructs. “Is it worth making the time for a money cleanse? If it is, put aside time in your calendar each week to give your money some love.”
3. Share your money goals (however awkward at first) with your dream team. Everything is more fun when you do it with the people you love! “I highly recommend doing your New Year’s money cleanse with buddies,” Ashley suggests. “At the very least, enlist your friends, family and colleagues for support. Money is something we don’t talk about enough because it can feel awkward. When that happens, the people we love most aren’t in on our money goals and can’t support us.” She tells us that building a dream team means sharing what you’re doing with the people you spend the most time. Strategizing with them can totally help you meet your goals.
4. Keep a money journal or excel sheet to become more aware of your money. Ashley tells us that while technology has improved our lives in a ton of ways, it can still be tough on our wallets. “Swiping credit cards, hitting the ‘buy’ button when online shopping and hopping in and out of an Uber or Lyft without paying [in cash] might have separated you from where your cash is going,” she wisely notes. Ready to reconnect with your cash? Ashley says that one of the most effective ways to do it is to keep a money journal, where you write down (or type out) everything you spend and earn. “No item is too small!” she proclaims.
5. Go on a cash diet. Since credit cards and debit cards make it hard to really feel the implications of spending, Ashley suggests considering a cash diet, which means taking out a set amount of money for different things in your budget and paying for them in cash. ”It’s a very different feeling to buy something with a credit card than to pay for it in cash,” she swears. “Just THINK about handing over all of those $20 bills.”
6. Only buy essentials (no, manicures don’t count) for one week. Like other resolutions or New Year’s goals, a money cleanse is all about mindset. “When we let go of all the frivolous spending in our lives, it becomes really clear how much we already have. It’s also really eye-opening to take note of which expenses you miss and which aren’t really adding value to our lives,” Ashley says. Try giving up ALL non-essential spending for one week, then analyze what you can live without on the reg. Make the shift and your savings will grow so much faster.
7. Consider your everyday spending triggers. “Environmental toxins are the people, places and things that get the best of our spending,” Ashley explains. “There could be a certain store that you leave spending much more than you intended or a friend that seems to cause you to drop extra cash.” What to do? Plan for each event and reward yourself when you stick to it. And seriously consider avoiding Target when you just need toilet paper. Their colorful, organized products get us every time.
8. Notice what truly treats you. While you definitely deserve to treat yourself, it’s also super important to do it in a way that truly brings you joy, instead of mistakenly moving you further away from what you want most. “If your biggest goal is to save for a vacation or get out of credit card debt, that’s the true treat. If you end up buying yourself ‘treats’ throughout the year at the expense of what we really want, that’s no really treat at all,” Ashley cautions.
9. Face the numbers. Hopefully, your money your money journal and cash diet will have you clear on where your money is going. Now you’re ready to take an annual view. Ashley says, “The annual view is all about what’s coming in, what you want to put toward your money goals and how much is leftover to spend on your lifestyle. Things don’t line up quite yet? No worries! Ashley promises, “Even if this equation doesn’t work right now, it’s MUCH more important and powerful to face the numbers and know what’s happening with your money than to avoid it entirely. This way, you can do something about it early.”
10. Track and celebrate your success. Measuring your success is ultra-important when it comes to completing your New Year’s money cleanse. Ashley says to ask yourself how much you’ve saved, how much closer you are to your goals and how you’ll celebrate mini-milestones along the way. “Rewarding yourself might feel silly or sound trivial but it really works,” she says. “Don’t skimp on this last step. You’re worth it.”