2011 is on its way, did you and your family didn't meet your expectations financially? If not, no problem, there is a solution if you really are motivated to make a few changes. The most difficult part is making that first step and most people don't know where to begin because it feels overwhelming.
Try to set your goals on a realistic time line–say 30, 60, 90 days, 1 year and 5 years, this way you will give yourself time to achieve easy things in a short period of time and develop the habit of doing things differently. Also, don't try to be drastic because you won't get anywhere close to your goal. Be like the couple or family that set aside a small amount of cash each week for non-necessities. It's sort of like dieting; if you completely stop having the food you love, you'll spend more time thinking about what you might be missing.
Now is the time to track your expenses even with the holidays on the horizon. Look at where you are spending on a daily basis. A quick place you can start is check with your tax professional and find out if your withholdings can be adjusted. You might be able to meet your tax obligations and get more cash into your paycheck now before December 31. Why wait until next year to wait for a huge refund if you can start using some of the money now? By January, you will have a plan in place and 2011 will be off to a fantastic start!
I haven't been much of a fan of mass media for the last few years as the economy tanked–people were confused, hurt and panicked by the steady flow of scary news. Hopefully it has changed and certainly looks as though news stories are now trying to help people find ways to live in the new economy. There's even a new reality show airing this month that portrays a family working through their financial challenges.
You may or may not identify yourself as struggling but even the wealthy are learning to live differently in this new era. Here are some success stories that may inspire you to make a New Year's commitment to making a change in your personal economy: Debt Busters!
As always, don't change anything in your W-4 at work until after you check with your tax professional and, if you have specific questions about starting a new budget, you can email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.