Make next year your best year ever

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recently held a poll on their website. They asked visitors to predict the state of their financial situation one year in the future. Slightly less than half (49 percent) predicted that they’d be in better shape financially in one year’s time. About a quarter of respondents (23 percent) thought things would be essentially unchanged, while 17 percent worried that their finances would be worse.

It’s great that half of those surveyed feel positively about their financial future, but what about everyone else? Why do so many people think things are just going to stay the same? Or get worse?

One reason may be that a lot of people believe they don’t have control over their financial future. To some extent that may be true – most people don’t have a lot of control over the rise and fall of the national economy – but you have much more control over your personal finances than you may think.

If you want your financial situation to be better in 12 months then you can make that happen. Start taking steps today to make next year (and every year) better and better.

Increase your income

The best way to improve your financial situation is to add more income to the mix. It takes effort and time to create additional income, but it’s worth it if your current income doesn’t adequately support you and your family.

  • Ask for a raise. If you feel that you aren’t being paid competitively, be willing to do something about that. Make your case. Your boss may say no, but they may say yes. You’re almost certainly more likely to get a raise if you ask for one than if you didn’t say anything at all.
  • Get better at what you do. Whether or not your boss said yes to your request for a raise, if you want to be paid more you should strive to become more valuable. Learn additional skills. Grab every bit of training you can get. If your current employer can’t pay you what you’re worth, you’ll have an easier time finding someone who will.
  • Start a side business. Learn how to make money in your spare time. Pick something you’re passionate about and try to make a little extra cash out of it.

Control your expenses

The other half of your personal financial equation is your expenses – where is your money going? If you want to feel more comfortable with your finances next year you should probably strive to better control your expenses.

  • Create a budget. If you wish your financial situation was better, but haven’t even bothered to start budgeting yet, you really aren’t doing yourself any favors. A budget helps you maximize your available money by keeping expenses in check and purposefully directing your money towards your goals. If you want your financial situation to be better, start budgeting.
  • Set your priorities. What does an improved financial situation look like to you? More spending power? Less worry? You get to define what “better” looks like for you and doing so helps you decide what actions to take throughout the year.
  • Make a plan. Things don’t get better just because you want them to. You have to work at it. Once you pick your priorities you can set your goals. And once you’ve got goals you can create a plan to reach those goals.

There are never any guarantees about what the future will bring, but if you’d like your financial situation to improve you can take steps to make that happen. There’s no reason to assume things will get worse and then not do something about that. You control your financial future – so why wouldn’t you want next year to be your best year ever?

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.