Did you know that it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit? Perhaps the reason New Year’s resolutions get such a bad rap is that people don’t practice them long enough to make them stick.
The start of a new year, however, can be an excellent time to look back, assess, and start afresh. One of the best resolutions you can make—and one of the easiest to keep, since the payoff is immediate—is to get organized.
Organizing your home, daily schedule, and finances not only makes your life easier, it also improves your productivity and may even help you to sleep better at night. Clean, simple routines require little maintenance, once habits are established, helping to eliminate feelings of being overwhelmed and reducing stress.
Some of the best ways I know to organize your finances include:
- Start a budget. Working with a spreadsheet, a simple piece of paper, or a budgeting app such as Every Dollar, designing a budget is the first step toward getting your finances well in hand. After a few months you will be able to see where your money is going so you can make adjustments to pay off your debts or increase your savings.
- Pay off debts. Once you’ve started your budget and are tracking your spending more closely, it’s time to pay off those debts. Start with your smallest balance first, and make sure to celebrate the achievement whenever you pay one off!
- Set limits. Discretionary expenses such as dining out can really add up if you’re not paying attention. To gain control, why not set limits on these activities? Perhaps restrict yourself to dining out twice a week, for instance, or, if fashion is your passion, establish a monthly clothing allowance. You don’t have to deprive yourself—and in fact, if you do, you’ll be less likely to stick to your plan.
- Work out for free. Daily exercise releases endorphins, which reduce stress and improve sleep. But you don’t have to spend a lot on a fancy club to reap the benefits. Simply taking the dog for a walk or doing yoga in your bedroom can make a big difference in your outlook, and without spending a dime.
- Be thankful. The fact that you have finances to organize can be a reason for gratitude! Keeping a gratitude journal creates a positive outlook, reducing stress and improving your physical health. Just writing down three things to be grateful for every morning (or at night before bed) can transform your mindset, and your life.
New habits don’t come easily; they take planning, effort, and dedication. Organizing your finances and developing a positive mindset, if practiced for just a few minutes each day, will lay a solid foundation for bigger changes in the future. Your feet firmly planted in the ground, you’ll find the freedom to plan big—to soar and dream! What better way is there to start a new year?