Starting Financially Fresh in the New Year

As the busy holiday season comes to an end, people around the world use New Year’s Day as a launching pad to improve themselves. While you may have the best intentions, many people find financial resolutions challenging to keep. Last year’s spending and financial decisions don’t simply disappear because it’s a new year. Instead, if you’re like most, you probably have a large credit card bill from the holidays staring back at you.

The trick with setting and keeping financial resolutions is preparation. The following guide will detail the framework you can follow to ensure you’re ready to start financially fresh in the new year.

Step #1: Assess Your Current Finances
Before you begin listing changes you want to make in the new year, you need to know where you currently stand. Review all your financial accounts and list your current balances. Then, identify all your outstanding loans and credit cards - including balances, interest rates, and payment due dates.
The more information you gather, the better!

Step #2: Pick Your Resolutions
Identify the behaviors you want to change or improve in the coming year. Some examples include:

  • Saving more money each month.
  • Paying off debt.
  • Improving your credit score.

While these are good starting points, your goals should be specific. Building on these examples, you might say:

  • Putting $250 into my Savings Account each month.
  • Paying an additional $175 toward outstanding loans monthly.
  • Setting automatic payments so you don’t miss a loan or credit card payment all year.

Step #3: Compile Your Budget
Building and maintaining a budget might feel tedious or time-consuming. But it is an important step to manage your money more effectively.

Begin by identifying all your recurring monthly incomes. Then, minus your current monthly expenses. People often underestimate how much they spend each month. To get a more realistic figure, review several months of past checking and credit card statements.

How much is leftover? Is it enough to satisfy your financial resolutions? If not, Step 4 is for you!

Step #4: Revamp Your Budget
If your budget isn’t quite where you want it to be, take a hard look at your monthly expenses. Can you identify any areas you could save money? Every little bit helps!

Some ideas include building your weekly grocery list based on sales, limiting how often you dine out or order coffee, and hosting a pot-luck game night with friends instead of going out.

Step #5: Automate Your Savings
While you might have the best intentions to save more money in the new year, life happens. Unexpected expenses always pop up. Whether it’s something significant like car repairs or just going out with friends, savings have a way of being spent.

The best way to ensure you’re saving more is to automate the process. With Payroll Deduction or Automatic Transfers, you can put your savings plan on autopilot.

  • Payroll Deduction: Allows you to designate a specific amount from each paycheck to deposit into your savings account automatically.
  • Automatic Transfers: You choose a date each month for a specific amount of money to automatically transfer from your checking account into your savings account.

Starting fresh in the new year is a wonderful feeling. With a bit of preparation, you can create a game plan that will jumpstart your motivation and help reduce any fiscal stress you’re feeling.


Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.