If 2016 was a financial disaster, then use 2017 as the year to get your money right. To rectify any bad money decisions made last year, we’re sharing five doable financial resolutions that will get your finances back on track. These resolutions will also make a positive impact this year and possibly the years to come.
Don’t be a Product Tester
In 2017, a plethora of new products will hit the shelves, from beauty products to trendy food items. This year, resist the urge to buy new products for the sole purpose of trying it. Companies launch new products several times a year to maintain or gain new interest from consumers. These new products will appear to be revised or contain a new unique or novel ingredient. If a product is already working for you, then there’s no need to try a new one, especially if it’s similar. Financial advisor Tonya Rapley advises, “Do not buy a new product if you already own a product that serves the same purpose and it is working for you.” Rapley listed this money-saving tip specifically for product junkies, or people who like to buy, try, and accumulate new products.
There’s a sale for just about every U.S. holiday. From Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Valentine's Day, companies use holidays as a marketing ploy to attract customers to their stores to spend money. Often, these sales are false and the products are not even considerably marked down from their original price. In fact, there’s a current lawsuit against four major department stores who advertised products with falsified higher original sales prices to lure customers into thinking they were getting a deal. Bottom line: if you don’t need it or regularly use it, then don’t buy it. As Atlanta-based financial coach Shannaan Dawda says, “Sales are only a true savings when it’s in something you buy on a regular basis.”
Build Your Emergency Fund
If you don’t have an emergency fund, then 2017 is the year to begin building one. This year, make a financial resolution to build an emergency fund, or a certain amount of money to offset a financial setback. This is one resolution that’s sure to make an impact, especially if you lose a job or suddenly need a major car repair. Ideally, your emergency fund should be 3-6 months worth of living expenses, depending on your family size. According to wealth management expert Zaneilia Harris, the best way to get started is to establish automatic withdrawals from your paycheck into an account designed for your emergency fund.
Create a Tangible Financial Plan
Mentally saving and budgeting is a precursor for money mismanagement. If you only have one resolution for this year, let it be to start manually managing your finances. As Black Enterprise finance editor Alfred Edmond Jr. puts it, “People looking to accumulate and maintain wealth know...not in their heads, but on paper and/or their computer.” Start using a paper or electronic tool to manage your income, spending and debt. There are several online and mobile budgeting apps, such as Mint, that make personal finance management convenient.
Make Your Dollars Count
By 2020, African-American consumers are projected to have a buying power of over one trillion dollars. This year (and subsequent years), make a financial resolution to direct some of that money back into the hands of minority business owners. Finding and buying from black businesses is becoming easier, as there are now several outlets (including WeBuyBlack) dedicated to supporting black-owned businesses. Most recently Black Lives Matter launched www.backingblackbusiness.com, a searchable website that lists black-owned businesses throughout the United States.